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10 Worst Cities For LGBT Rights

Huffingon Post Politics - Sat, 2014-11-22 15:20
Across the United States, cities are increasingly embracing equal treatment and access for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans. In a foreword to this year’s Municipal Equality Index, Chad Griffin, President of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), said that “cities continue to demonstrate that all corners of America are ready for equality.”

Bill Maher Surprisingly Reveals A Plan To Save Christmas

Huffingon Post Politics - Sat, 2014-11-22 15:03
From Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to Buddy the Elf, Christmas has had a lot of unlikely heroes over the years, but this may be the most shocking of all.

On the last "Real Time with Bill Maher" episode of 2014, the host dedicated some time to outline his three-point plan for saving Christmas. The comedian is pretty outspoken in his disapproval of religion, as outlined in his 2008 movie "Religulous," so he admitted himself that he's a surprising choice to come to Christmas' aid.

The comedian explained that it's not about the religious aspect of the holiday, though. Maher said, "It's about family, memories and the looks on the carolers' faces when I set the dogs on them."

Watch the full clip above, which has some NSFW language.

"Real Time with Bill Maher" returns Friday, January 9, 2015.

We're Mad as Hell, and We're Not Going to Take It Anymore

Huffingon Post Politics - Sat, 2014-11-22 14:45
MEXICO CITY -- Thursday, on the 104th anniversary of the 1910 Mexican Revolution in which millions died, the traditional military parade in Mexico City was hastily cancelled to make way for tens of thousands of students, teachers, families, social activists and people from all walks of society who converged in three orderly throngs on the Zocalo, the city's imposing central square and the political heart of the country, to demand the reappearance of 43 missing students from a rural teachers' college in Ayotzinapa, in Guerrero state, who were abducted in the nearby city of Iguala by police and drug gang members the night of Sept. 26-27. Family members of the missing students led the marches.

Many marchers carried placards with photographs of the students, and as we made our way down the spacious Paseo de la Reforma, the chant of "1, 2, 3, up to 43, justice!" resounded over and over again. A man dressed as Father Miguel Hidalgo, a leader of the 1810 Mexican War of Independence, waved a pennant emblazoned with the Virgin of Guadalupe, shouting "Death to bad government!"

Among the cries I heard and banners I saw were:

"Tell my mother I don't know when I'll be back, I went to find my country", "Who killed the students? It was the State!", "Revolution, Revolution!" "You have died, comrade, your death will be avenged!", "Peña, resign!" (addressed to President Enrique Peña Nieto), "Magic does exist, the students vanished", "I think, therefore I am disappeared", "Sorry to bother you, but they're killing us", "Criminals, you haven't kidnapped a mere 43 students, but an entire nation", "I'm tired of being, kidnapped, extorted, assassinated", "This struggle is against the narco-state. If you take drugs you're not on our side", "Death to the PRI!' (the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party), "It's time to howl, coyotes of Mexico" (the police turned the students over to the Guerreros Unidos drug gang at a place known as Coyote Hill), "I don't want to be number 44", "Peña, understand, the people can't stand you", "Why does the government fear students more than narcos?", "Mexico is crying for a change."

I was impressed by the degree of anger, by the overwhelming dissatisfaction with the way things are now, by the unanimity of the clamor for change. I felt that a breaking point will soon be reached.

Protesters in #Mexico expressing their fury by burning a figure of president Peña Nieto #YaMeCansé pic.twitter.com/YUCFShMagP

— RalphGM (@RalphGMWorks) November 21, 2014

A 30-foot effigy of Peña Nieto, its chest crossed by the presidential sash, would later be burned in the Zocalo. The sea of voices cried out for justice.

Two violent incidents in Mexico City featuring small groups of mainly masked and hooded agitators, identified by television commentators as anarcos ("anarchists"), were given prominence on TV news programs throughout the day. Early in the afternoon approximately 100 young people, some with faces partly covered, were heading for Mexico City's airport when they clashed with hundreds of municipal and riot police intent on keeping access to the airport open. After an initial skirmish, two patrol cars were set on fire, several journalists were injured, 31 protestors were arrested and the main group was encapsulated by the police. Twenty of the detainees are students.

Late in the night, as the mass of peaceful demonstrators drained out of the Zocalo, dozens of "anarchos" (as the TV news would have it) emerged from the midst and ran towards the National Palace on the east flank of the square. One of the building's monumental wooden doors had been rammed repeatedly and set afire during the previous mass demonstration on Nov. 9, as TV cameras filmed the assault, but police intervention was curiously late in coming. That night for nearly an hour attackers throwing sticks, stones, and Molotov cocktails surged back and forth with serried ranks of riot police who sprayed them with fire extinguishers. According to the Mexican news magazine Proceso, demonstrators who had remained in the Zocalo were rushed by the riot police and dozens were injured.

In a letter published in Saturday's La Jornada, a university teacher who was wounded describes violent police aggression against peaceful participants who were trying to leave the square and who were beaten and sprayed with mustard gas, many falling on top of each other or fainting. Entire families who sought shelter huddling against the metal shutters protecting stores were attacked by riot police. Eleven people arrested in the Zocalo have been charged with acts of terrorism, attempted homicide and organized crime. The detainees include students, a swimming teacher, and a professional photographer who was arrested while leaving the Zocalo with a few friends, according to his son.

Elsewhere in Mexico many more demonstrations took place. Again, TV reporting gave precedence to violence, as in San Cristobal de las Casas, in Chiapas, where a battle ensued between ransackers and storekeepers after stores were plundered and a bank trashed while the police stood idly by.

Citizens' groups and opposition party senators are now accusing the government of infiltrating agitators to justify repression and curtail freedom of speech and the right to protest.

On Nov. 7, Mexico's Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam announced in a press conference that the 43 students had most probably been done away with in Cocula, not far from Iguala, their bodies incinerated for 14 hours at 2,900 degrees Fahrenheit in the municipal garbage dump on a pyre of tires, wood, and plastic refuse doused with gasoline and diesel fuel, and their charred, pulverized remains stuffed into garbage bags and thrown into the San Juan River. In a video, three alleged participants, their faces pixelated, described their labors in gruesome detail.

The attorney general accused Jose Luis Abarca, the former mayor of Iguala, and his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda, of having given the order for the students, who were interfering with a political event staged by Pineda, to be "dealt with." Murillo Karam regretted that only two bones were in good enough condition for a leading Austrian forensics laboratory at Innsbruck Medical University, that has previously identified the remains of the Romanovs and victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, to extract DNA samples for possible matching to the students or their families. According to the Institute of Legal Medicine's director, deciphering the DNA would take at least 10 weeks, and then further work would be done in Spain before the results could be made known. Earlier that day, the news and two bagfuls of ashes and bits had been presented to the families. Murillo Karam called an abrupt end to the press conference, saying "I'm all tired out," which sparked a storm on Twitter.

No one is satisfied with the explanations so far. People are still waiting for the forcibly retired governor of Guerrero to be questioned. They want to know what the so-called "imperial couple" of Iguala, who were firmly in bed with drug cartels, may have confessed since their Nov. 4 arrest in a lower-class neighborhood in Mexico City. They wonder who gouged out the eyes and stripped the flesh from the face of Julio Cesar Mondragon, an impoverished 22-year-old student whose daughter was born two weeks earlier, while he was still alive, who murdered a taxi driver and his female passenger when buses filled with students were fired on. But the $64,000 question is still why were the students kidnapped and, presumably, killed? Some family members cherish the hope that they are still alive and doing forced labor in a mine.

The past 56 days have seen marches, sit-ins, teachers' and students' strikes, looting in shopping centers and supermarkets, ransacking and torching of public buildings, seizing of toll booths, blockading of highways and mass fasting and prayer. During last weekend's three-day holiday, 14,000 hotel reservations were cancelled in Acapulco due to the resort city's recent unrest.

Adding fuel to the flames, on Nov. 9 leading investigative journalist Carmen Aristegui published a report revealing that a sprawling $7 million dollar mansion in an upscale Mexico City neighborhood thought to be owned by Peña Nieto was in reality the property of an ad hoc real estate company belonging to a construction firm, one of whose subsidiaries was part of a Chinese-led consortium to build a high-speed rail line between Mexico City and the city of Queretaro. The contract was cancelled suddenly a few days before the news emerged, on the eve of a presidential visit to China. Millions have watched Angelica Rivera, Peña's soap opera star wife, on a prime time news program and on YouTube indignantly explaining that it is she who owns the house, which she has been paying for in installments, but that she will now sell her interest in it. In contrast, nearly 50 percent of Mexico's population lives under the poverty line.

The government is betting that people will forget -- give up or give in -- but Mexicans are tired of monstrous corruption and impunity. They're not falling for the stale old arguments of "a plot to destabilize the country" and "threats to the national project." I keep thinking of the renegade newscaster in the 1976 movie Network exhorting viewers to yell out of their windows "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!"

What's next? The Inter-University Assembly has called for a nationwide strike and a symbolic taking of Mexico City on Dec. 1, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Francisco Villa and Emiliano Zapata's entry into Mexico City with their armies. Dec. 1 is also the second anniversary of Peña Nieto's swearing in as president.

The future would seem to hinge on two bits of bone. If a match to the DNA of one or two students is discovered, will this be sufficient proof that all 43 perished on the pyre? Or not? And then what?

More from The WorldPost on Mexico's missing students:

- Mexico has been looking for 43 missing students. What has been found is truly terrifying.
- 11 numbers to help you understand the violence rocking Mexico
- 'As a Mexican. I am ashamed'
- 'Three causes behind Mexico's crisis of corruption and impunity'
- 'I am fed up with fear'
- 'Enough! Mexico Is Ready to Explode'

What to Do When You're Not Bombing: Think for a Change

Huffingon Post Politics - Fri, 2014-11-21 22:41
I often disagree with New York Times columnist Tom Friedman. But with his latest column, he's made a contribution to our malfunctioning political culture: He demonstrates self-reflection, a good faith effort at honesty, and relative freedom from the penchant for politically correct, "do something" tactics of knee-jerk violence. Most significant, he models what learning from (war) experience might look like. The column should be required reading for policy makers and "deciders" leading us, bleating, down the primrose path to bloody war yet again.

Friedman calls it like it is:

Ever since the Arab awakening in late 2010, America has lurched from one policy response to another. We tried decapitation without invasion in Libya; it failed. We tried abdication in Syria; it failed. We tried democratization in Egypt, endorsing the election of the Muslim Brotherhood; it failed. We tried invasion, occupation, abdication and now re-intervention in Iraq and, although the jury is still out, only a fool would be optimistic.

Just because it's cliché doesn't mean it's not true:

Maybe the beginning of wisdom is admitting that we don't know what we're doing out here...

Calls it like it is again:

We don't have the will to invest overwhelming force for the time it would take to reshape any of these places -- and, even if we did, it is not clear it would work. (Tom: "It is clear: It wouldn't work.")

He "has a take," as sports talk-show host Jim Rome says, and, as Rome likes to say, "it doesn't suck":

So if the Middle East is a region we can neither fix nor ignore, what's left? I'm for "containment" and "amplification."

Although I don't agree with every national assessment he makes, and he leaves out Israel, his strategy exemplifies what both Western medicine and Buddhism hold critical: "First Do No Harm" -- a calculus for good:

Where there is disorder -- Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya -- collaborate with regional forces to contain it, which is basically what we're doing today. I just hope we don't get in more deeply. Where there is imposed order -- Egypt, Algeria -- work quietly with the government to try to make that order more decent, just, inclusive and legitimate. Where there is already order and decency -- Morocco, Jordan, Lebanon, Kurdistan and the United Arab Emirates -- do everything to amplify it, so it becomes more consensual and sustainable. And where there is order, decency and democracy -- Tunisia -- give it as much money as they ask for, (which we haven't done).

He lays out working principles, based on lessons learned:

...Never forget: We can only amplify what they do. When change starts [with] or depends on our staying power, it is not self-sustaining -- the most important value in international relations.

After a long segment touting Dubai (no comment), he elaborates an often touted, rarely learned principle articulated by retired Lt Gen Daniel Bolger in his new book, Why We Lost.

The point: It has to start with them. The best we can do is amplify. David Kilcullen, the Australian counterinsurgency expert who served with the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan, told me: "Just like there is a spark of life in a physical body, there has to be a spark of legitimacy and coherence in a body politic. And, if it is not there, trying to substitute for it is like putting a cadaver on a slab and harnessing a lightning bolt to it to bring it back to life. You end up with Dr. Frankenstein. You can animate a corpse and make it walk and talk, but sooner or later it's going to go rogue. ... When you don't have the local leadership, invading does not make things better. It makes them worse."

From the mouth of columnists:

"Singing words of wisdom..."

From your mouth, Freudman, to the "deciders' ears.

Election 2014: Seven Wins for Women

Huffingon Post Politics - Fri, 2014-11-21 22:40
It's been more than two weeks since the midterm elections brought sweeping change to Congress and State Houses across the country. It wasn't the greatest moment for those of us working toward gender equality -- but there are some shining silver linings that prove change is happening, however incrementally.

Women were major players in Senate races from New Hampshire to Georgia to Iowa and Kentucky. They were key contenders for governor's seats in at least nine states. They brought their unique perspectives to the political and policy debates from state legislatures to the U.S. Senate.

Here, my top seven moments of the 2014 elections and what they mean for women.

Rhode Island Meets a Milestone: Ocean State voters elected a woman as their Governor for the first time, making history in one of the oldest boys' clubs. I know Governor-elect Gina Raimondo will lead with the same strength and likeability that defined her campaign and her tenure as Treasurer before that.

Massachusetts Makes History: My home state of Massachusetts made headlines with the election of Maura Healey, a qualified, dynamic, and energizing leader who will be the first openly gay Attorney General in the country. Let's hear it for progress.

Workers Win on Earned Sick Time: More than one million workers will not have to choose between their health and their job, as voters in Massachusetts and in three cities across the country passed ballot initiatives allowing workers to earn paid sick time. This is a real win for women, since we are still so often the primary caregivers for sick children or parents.

Minimum Wage on the Rise: Voters in four states said yes to boosting their minimum wage (and a fifth did the same, although it was a nonbinding referendum). This is good news for women, who make up nearly sixty percent of the low-wage workers nationwide, according to the National Women's Law Center. Overall, 62 percent of workers making the federal minimum wage, $7.25 an hour, are women, according to a Pew Research analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Women shouldn't have to choose between going to work, paying for childcare, and putting food on the table. With a fair, livable wage, they wouldn't have to. Here's hoping this shift in policy at the state level fuels a larger discussion over the federal minimum wage, too.

Diversity Marks the Day: We know from Barbara Lee Family Foundation research that voters value diversity in our elected leaders and think Congress would be better with a broader range of races, ages, and backgrounds represented. I couldn't agree more. This election saw some strides in that arena with the election of Republicans Mia Love and Elise Stefanik to Congress. Love will be the first black Republican woman in Congress, and at 30 years old, Stefanik will be the youngest woman ever elected to the body.

Women Governors Hold onto Their Seats: While this wasn't a banner year for women taking over the corner office, we didn't lose ground, either. The total number of women governors will remain at five with the retirement of Governor Jan Brewer in Arizona and the addition of Governor-elect Gina Riamondo in Rhode Island.

Women Break 100 in Congress: With Alma Adams' special election in North Carolina, the current Congress will now have at least 100 women. Before we celebrate, though, remember this: Men will make up 90 percent of the Republicans in Congress. We can do better.

Let's take pride in the small victories for progress we did see this year. Here's to the fearless women with the grace and grit to put their names on the ballot, the candidates who fought for fairness, and the people who helped push the dialogue forward on issues that disproportionately affect women.

It took 70 years from the first women's rights conference at Seneca Falls until women won the right to vote in 1920. It took us until 2014 to hit 100 women in Congress. As I think about this slow progress toward equality, I'm reminded of a poster that hangs in my office. It depicts groundbreaking suffragist Inez Milholland on a white horse, holding a banner with the phrase "Forward into light."

That's exactly where we're headed. Let's keep going.

In Secret, Obama Extends U.S. Role In Afghan Combat

Huffingon Post Politics - Fri, 2014-11-21 22:05
President Obama signed a secret order in recent weeks authorizing a more expansive mission for the military in Afghanistan in 2015 than originally planned, a move that ensures American troops will have a direct role in fighting in the war-ravaged country for at least another year.

With Mia Love's Election We're Still Not Post-Racial

Huffingon Post Politics - Fri, 2014-11-21 21:48
Congratulations to Mia Love on being the first black Republican woman in Congress. On the night of her victory, Love remarked, "Many of the naysayers out there said that Utah would never elect a black, Republican, LDS [Latter-Day Saint, or Mormon] woman to Congress. Not only did we do it, we were the first to do it."

But what exactly were the naysayers doubting? Surely it was not that a strongly Republican and heavily Mormon state could elect a Mormon Republican. And while there have been no Utah women in Congress recently, there have been three Utah women in Congress in the state's history, so the doubt was not about getting a woman elected either.

The real question was whether a very white state would elect a black representative. But on Election Day, the voters of Utah's fourth congressional district elected Mia Love.

Just as many people took the election of Barack Obama as a sign of a new post-racial America, some might take Love's election to mean that post-racialism has reached Utah. But the truth of the matter is that the election of a racial-minority candidate tells us very little about racial relations.

Love received 50 percent of the vote. The political scientist Michael P. McDonald estimates that only about 30 percent of eligible voters in Utah actually voted, so Love was likely supported by about 15 percent of all eligible voters in Utah. In other words, the vast majority of people eligible to vote did not vote for Love. By no stretch of the imagination can we use their non-vote for Love to assess their racial attitudes.

Additionally, we have no idea about the racial views of individuals who did vote for Love. Probably every American has supported a candidate about whom they were less than enthusiastic. Some Americans may have even voted for a candidate they disliked because they hated the candidate's opponent even more.

With Obama we saw this dynamic specifically related to race with the "racists-for-Obama" vote. For example, in 2008, a man told a woman working for the Obama campaign, "Ma'am, we're voting for the n*****." Another Obama supporter stated, "I wouldn't want a mixed marriage for my daughter, but I'm voting for Obama." We don't know whether there were "racists-for-Love" voters.

After the 2008 election of Barack Obama, many people declared America post-racial. This declaration was followed by large racial controversies around the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., around unauthorized immigration from Mexico and Central America, around the killing of Trayvon Martin, around changes to voting laws, and around the killing of Michael Brown. It would be a mistake to ascribe any post-racial motives to the election of Mia Love.

Mia Love is likely just the beginning of a new wave of Democratic, independent, and Republican elected officials of color. Many of these new elected officials of color will say Obama-esque things like Love's statement that "these issues that we're facing in our country, they're not black-white issues. They're American issues." They may even beat Obama's record for not talking about race. (In his first two years in office, Obama mentioned race fewer times than any Democratic president since 1961, according to research by the political scientist Daniel Gillon.)

But it would be a mistake for us to take their post-racial, colorblind politicking to mean that the country is actually post-racial. This point was illustrated crudely and clearly by a recent Republican caller to C-SPAN who stated, "This is about race. The Republicans hate that n***** Obama."

The Womb Lottery

Huffingon Post Politics - Fri, 2014-11-21 21:24
I'm happy that President Obama finally has moved forward with immigration reform. But the six-year-long White House Bad Messaging Plague (WHBMP) continues unabated. We're in danger of losing the public on this issue even before the first work permit is issued.

President Obama's executive order removes the loaded guns pointed at the temples of five million human beings, who also happen to be undocumented U.S. immigrants. It is an act of compassion and mercy that has eluded House Speaker John Boehner for years, his utterly hypocritical nattering about the urgent need for immigration reform notwithstanding. If Boehner had ever looked up from his shot glass, he might have seen their sad eyes and felt some urge to confer simple dignity on them.

But that's not how the White House is telling it. Last night, I received the White House talking points, embargoed until 6 pm. (I received them at 6:03 pm, but nevermind.)

● The President will "help secure the border." (This is the first thing -- the very first thing! -- that they said.)

● The President will hold undocumented immigrants "accountable." How is he holding them "accountable" for entering or remaining in America without permission? By letting them stay.

● The President will "fix our broken immigration system." How will he fix it? By not enforcing it.

● The President will "prioritize deporting felons not families." Just as he has deported commas from that phrase, I guess. (Good alliteration, though.)

Please understand: I'm in favor of President Obama's action -- very much so. But this framing just... stinks.

Here is a test for you: Is there anything in these talking points that could not have come out of the Bush White House? Answer: No.

I've seen a poll or two in my life, so I understand that the terms "secure the border," "accountability," "fixing the broken [fill in the blank]" and "families" poll very well. Families, yay! Felons, boo! I'm very happy, and indeed relieved, that we Democrats now have established our bona fides as the anti-felon party.

I noted that the White House's very lengthy (i.e., numbingly repetitive) talking points never mention Boehner or the Republicans -- not even once. Instead, the White House extends its devastating six-year-long attack on "Congress," which has succeeded in: (a) driving Congress's approval rating down to single digits; (b) delivering the House to the Republicans in 2010; and (c) delivering the Senate to the Republicans in 2014. If some Higher Being did a global search and replace on every White House statement since Jan. 20, 2009, searching for "Congress" and replacing it in each instance with "Republicans in Congress," Democrats would have supermajorities right now in both Houses.

Here is the basic problem: Fox News has gotten into their heads. If you think that the primary purpose of immigration reform is "securing the borders," then your name is Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity, not Robert Gibbs, Jay Carney or Josh Earnest.

With all due respect, this is a pitiful effort to put a right-wing mask on a left-wing policy - and a meritorious and virtuous left-wing policy at that. But as Professor George Lakoff has demonstrated, even when you rebut the right wing's arguments, you're inadvertently reinforcing them. (As he puts it, "Don't think of an elephant!" You can't. Once the subject of elephants comes up, you're going to think about elephants, whether you like it or not.)

Look, this is important. The basic rules of existence for five million people are in play. Please, just this once, can't we be progressives? What is so wrong with that?

Let's try it this way: Every one of us draws a ticket in the womb lottery. Six Waltons had winning tickets; they were born billionaires. The victims of fetal alcohol syndrome have losing tickets; they suffer from terrible physical and mental disabilities.

There are seven billion people alive today. Only a quarter of a billion of them won the womb lottery, and they were fortunate enough to be born in the United States. Almost 50 million more worked the system well enough to acquire U.S. citizenship. But there are over 10 million people who love America so much -- so very much -- that they left behind their communities, their families, their property, their jobs, and they came here or remain here without the permission of our government. They didn't win the womb lottery, so it's too late for them to be born here. They feel that they were born in the wrong country. Their passports are not blue. But they want to fix that problem. They want to make it right. They can't be American citizens by birth, but instead, they desperately want to be American citizens by choice.

Isn't that a good thing? That people love what we have created so much that they want to be a part of it, and contribute to it. This isn't a threat, it's a heartfelt compliment.

My mother is an immigrant. My grandparents were immigrants. We are all the sons and daughters of immigrants, and we are all the children of God. Can we please, please respect each other, and live together in peace and dignity?

Think of it this way: for whatever reason -- lax enforcement of immigration laws, oppression in other countries, the need to survive, whatever -- these five million people are our new sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law. The polite thing to do is to welcome them. Repeat after me: "Welcome to the American Family, and thank you for contributing to the American Experience."


Rep. Alan Grayson

REPORT: FBI Arrests Men Near Ferguson After Allegedly Buying Explosives For Protests

Huffingon Post Politics - Fri, 2014-11-21 21:16
Two men in the St. Louis area were arrested on Thursday after allegedly buying explosives intended to be detonated in protests related to the killing of Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, law enforcement sources told CBS and Reuters on Friday night.

JUST IN: FBI have arrested 2 men in #STL area in sting operation for allegedly buying explosives to be used during protests, CBS News learns

— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) November 22, 2014

The men allegedly intended to use the explosives to make pipe bombs, CBS' Mosheh Oinounou reported.

ABC News identified the men as Olajuwon Davis and Brandon Baldwin and said they were charged with lying on forms to purchase handguns. The network, quoting an unidentified source, said the charges were filed against the men to "take them out of the rotation," in advance of a grand jury's decision whether to indict Wilson, expected any day.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the men were charged in a federal indictment unsealed on Friday with making false statements to obtain firearms. The newspaper quoted an anonymous police source as identifying the men as members of the New Black Panther Party.

Federal authorities searched two homes as part of the investigation -- one in St. Louis and one in St. Louis County, according to the Post-Dispatch. "The raids yielded information that both men had planned to obtain illegal weapons to do harm to law enforcement and the public," the paper reported.

The suspects were arraigned in federal court on Friday, law enforcement sources confirmed to Reuters.

Demonstrations are expected in Ferguson and across the country after the grand jury decides whether to indict Wilson for the Aug. 9 shooting of Brown. On Monday, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard to respond to anticipated demonstrations. About 100 FBI agents were deployed to the St. Louis area on Friday to help keep the peace.

The St. Louis office of the FBI did not immediately reply to inquiries from The Huffington Post.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, says the New Black Panther Party "is a virulently racist and anti-Semitic organization whose leaders have encouraged violence against whites, Jews and law enforcement officers." Members of the separatist group "frequently engage in armed protests of alleged police brutality," the law center reports.

This article has been updated to include details from the indictment and from reports by ABC News and the St. Louis-Post Dispatch.

Weekend Roundup: Is China Outpacing Mexico on the Rule of Law?

Huffingon Post Politics - Fri, 2014-11-21 20:44
On the same day this week that President Obama announced a measure that could give legal protection to 5 million undocumented immigrants, massive protests raged across Mexico against the impunity and corruption that led to the horrific massacre of 43 students. From Mexico City, Sergio Sarmiento and Elena Poniatowska chronicle the events and ponder what's next. Anthropologist Claudio Lomnitz examines the causes behind Mexico's corrosive impunity.

Meanwhile, as Xin Chunying writes from Beijing, China is also seeking to establish the rule of law through steadily boosting the role of the National People's Congress. While stifling dissent, China's President Xi is taking on both "tigers and flies" in his no-holds-barred assault from the top down on corruption.

Can China's effort succeed without active public engagement? Can Mexico learn from China and move from angry protest to systemic change?

Also writing from Mexico, Javier Ciurlizza and Mary Speck of the International Crisis Group note how the protesters' slogan, "I Am Fed Up With Fear," marks a turning point for Mexico.

As bleak as the troubled world today looks from the angry streets of Mexico, Human Age author Diane Ackerman finds inspiration in the most ingenious things humans are doing this week, from soccer balls that generate electricity to buildings and freeway overpasses that "eat smog."

Writing from New Delhi, Pawan Khera argues that it would be "disastrous" for India's development to agree to a climate accord like that just announced between the U.S. and China. Anoop Jain underscores just how far India lags behind China, with 550 million people without even toilets.

In an exclusive, The WorldPost publishes a wide-ranging dialogue between Henry Kissinger and Fu Ying, China's "iron lady," about whether the U.S. and her country can co-exist as "equal brothers."

Greece's president Karolos Papoulias tells Arianna Huffington, who is in Athens to launch yet another international edition of HuffPost, that the "troika" overseeing Greek eurozone reforms "acts as if they're speaking to rocks, not people."

WorldPost Middle East Correspondent Sophia Jones reports from Istanbul that, despite formal legal protections, "turkish women are still dying over the right to divorce." Former U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown calls for the establishment of an International Children's Court to end the global violation of children's rights.

In a video appeal, Bono reminds the world that epidemics like Ebola are what happen when promises of aid to Africa are broken. On the ground in Liberia, Dr. Phuoc Le talks candidly about what it means for a physician to treat Ebola patients with a "no touch" policy.

Finally, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict tragically flared once again in Jerusalem. Baroness Warsi writes that "violence always breeds violence" and there is no hope if that cycle is not broken. Beatriz Becerra, a Spanish member of the European Parliament, worries that recognition of a "Palestinian state" is an artifice destined for failure. And in this week's Forgotten Fact series, The WorldPost looks at a controversial response that Israel has brought back to terror attacks.


EDITORS: Nathan Gardels, Senior Advisor to the Berggruen Institute on Governance and the long-time editor of NPQ and the Global Viewpoint Network of the Los Angeles Times Syndicate/Tribune Media, is the Editor-in-Chief of The WorldPost. Farah Mohamed is the Managing Editor of The WorldPost. Kathleen Miles is the Senior Editor of the WorldPost. Alex Gardels is the Associate Editor of The WorldPost. Nicholas Sabloff is the Executive International Editor at the Huffington Post, overseeing The WorldPost and HuffPost's 11 international editions. Eline Gordts is HuffPost's Senior World Editor.

CORRESPONDENTS: Sophia Jones in Istanbul; Matt Sheehan in Beijing.

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Mexico's President Forced into a Corner

Huffingon Post Politics - Fri, 2014-11-21 20:31
MEXICO CITY -- It was a sweet, prolonged honeymoon. During his first 18 months in office President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico signed a political agreement with the country's top three political parties, something unheard of in a country known for its acrimonious, highly partisan politics. He proceeded to get 11 major reforms approved by a divided Congress. Peña Nieto moved Mexico from the crime sections to the business pages of international newspapers. His energy reform opened up Mexico's oil, gas and electricity industries to private investment. The telecommunications reform has tackled powerful local business empires. In his annual state of the union report, on Sept. 1, a confident Peña Nieto claimed that, after a long paralysis, "Mexico [is] on the move."


But the movement has turned into an earthquake. On the evening of Sept. 26 a group of first-year students of the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers College arrived in Iguala, a city in the southern state of Guerrero. They had been ordered by their school "Struggle Committee," the radical leftist group that rules life at the college, to disrupt a celebration organized by María de los Ángeles Pineda, the wife of Iguala's mayor, José Luis Abarca, who had plans to succeed her husband.

The students had stolen buses. Mayor Abarca ordered the Iguala police to "stop" the students. When the police intercepted them, the students apparently threw stones at the police, who then reportedly responded with live bullets. According to eyewitness accounts, three students were killed right there. Forty-four others were taken away by the police. The others are presumed to have been taken to Cocula, a small town, and handed over to a drug organization known as Guerreros Unidos or United Warriors. The drug traffickers allegedly killed them and burned their bodies. The government claims the mayor and his wife had links with this drug organization.

Mexico is used to violence. President Felipe Calderón, Peña Nieto's predecessor, launched a war against drugs in 2006 and saw an increase in murders from 8 per 100,000 people in 2007 to 24 in 2011. A slow decline in homicides began in 2012. In 2013, the first year of President Peña Nieto's government, there were 19 homicides per 100,000 people. The reduction prompted Peña Nieto to promote the idea that violence was a thing of the past.

No more. The disappearance and apparent murder of the Ayotzinapa students has horrified Mexico and the world. Other acts of violence have also become public knowledge. When searching for the Ayotzinapa students, government investigators uncovered a number of clandestine burial sites in the state of Guerrero. They thought at first they were the Ayotzinapa students, but were proven wrong. Dozens of bodies have been recovered and are now painfully and slowly being identified.


The Iguala affair has turned into a political crisis for President Peña Nieto. The Ayotzinapa school is known for its Marxist bent. Instead of having pictures of the nation's heroes, it is decorated with portraits of Che Guevara and Subcomandante Marcos. Its classes are used for indoctrinating students on revolutionary struggle. Lucio Cabañas, a famous guerrilla fighter of the 1970s, was a graduate of the college -- and remains the most admired alumnus.

Dozens of left-wing organizations have now joined the Ayotzinapa Struggle Committee in a movement that openly seeks the resignation of Peña Nieto. This would appear strange. Neither the president nor his party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party, had anything to do with the events in Iguala. The mayor was a member of the moderate leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution.

Peña Nieto's attorney general has pretty much solved the crime, which is unusual in a country with a 98 percent impunity rate, and has detained more than 70 people, including the mayor and his wife. Many of the accused have confessed to the mass kidnapping and the executions of the students. Still, the leaders of the movement claim that this was "a state crime" and thus the head of the Mexican state must resign.

The president's public image has been further tarnished by information that his wife owns a $7 million residential compound in Mexico City's posh Lomas district. Images of the luxurious home have circulated widely. A former successful television soap opera star, Angélica Rivera issued an emotional video explaining that she purchased the property with her own resources. Part of the compound, however, was bought on credit from a government contractor. The first lady claims that she is repaying the loan with interest.

On Nov. 20, the anniversary of the Mexican Revolution, thousands of people demonstrated in the streets of Mexico City demanding Peña Nieto's resignation. At this point there is no indication that the president is even considering the move. His administration is constitutionally scheduled to end in November 2018.

But the government is now afraid to use public force to prevent demonstrators from blockading roads and streets, stealing buses and trucks, ransacking supermarkets and torching government buildings. President Peña Nieto has claimed that his patience has limits, but so far the Ayotzinapa movement appears to have forced him into a corner.


Many of the demonstrators on Revolution Day threatened President Peña Nieto with a revolution if he does not resign. Paradoxically, Peña Nieto said on that very same day, in a ceremony to commemorate the 1910 Revolution, that violence is not acceptable. Apparently he was not aware of the fact that the Mexican Revolution was a violent affair that cost the lives of perhaps 1 million Mexicans, one tenth of the population at the time. Perhaps he should have remembered the words often attributed to Porfirio Díaz, the president who after 30 years in power resigned in 1911 at the start of the revolution: "In Mexico nothing ever happens -- until it happens."

Sergio Sarmiento is a columnist for the Mexican daily Reforma and a TV and radio commentator.

Friday Talking Points -- Obama's Gutsy Move

Huffingon Post Politics - Fri, 2014-11-21 20:13

When Congress wouldn't pass a bill, the president had to act on immigration and deportation policy, to keep families intact -- a measure that affected 40 percent of the undocumented immigrants in the United States. The president in question was George H. W. Bush, and the year was 1990. Congress, at the time, was run by the opposition party. What did they do in response? They passed a bill, which Bush later signed.

Last night, President Obama announced he's acting on immigration and deportation policy, to keep families intact, which will affect the same 40 percent of undocumented immigrants here. Congress is soon to be run completely by Obama's opposition party. What will they do in response?

There are a lot of possible answers to that question, but very far down on the list would be "pass a bill which Obama can sign." That was never going to happen -- it wouldn't have happened if Obama hadn't acted, it wouldn't have happened before the end of the year, it wouldn't have happened next year with a new Congress. And now it is definitely not going to happen. Nothing has changed on that front.

What is different is that this time Obama realizes this fact. Ever since his re-election, Obama has been coming around to the position that Republicans in Congress are simply not good-faith negotiators, because no matter what deal he hammers out with John Boehner, Boehner can never produce the votes from within his caucus to pass such a deal. So Obama has largely stopped banging his head against this brick wall.

Instead, he is setting the agenda in Washington in a breathtaking way. Since the midterm election, Obama has come out strongly for net neutrality, sealed the first deal that China has ever agreed to on curbing emissions, and now he's announced a new immigration and deportation policy which will affect the lives of millions of families for the better.

Republicans react to each of these presidential announcements, but they have already lost all the momentum they gained in their midterm electoral victory. Instead of setting the agenda themselves, on their own terms, they are reduced to reactionary moves each time Obama acts. The one thing for certain: nobody's arguing whether Obama is "relevant," the way they normally do at the start of a president's seventh year in office. Obama is more relevant than ever. In fact, if the tough negotiations don't fall apart this weekend, Obama may have a new treaty which curbs Iran's nuclear ambitions as early as next Monday to announce, as well (this is a longshot, admittedly). Obama is rolling out new initiatives by the week, and Republicans have been caught flatfooted.

Obama's move on immigration was certainly provocative, in the literal sense of "provoking a reaction." His speech was short and to the point, and he tossed down a few gauntlets in front of congressional Republicans, defying them to act on their own. He knows full well they won't, because their leaders cannot control the wilder factionalists within their ranks. "Pass a bill," Obama challenged, secure in the knowledge that they won't be able to.

This is because Republicans don't have a policy of their own. As a party, they cannot agree on what America should do to solve the immigration problem. About the only thing they come close to agreeing on is to "secure the border," but the House can't even get its act together to pass a bill which does that. Obama has now shifted the debate to what should be done about the 11 million undocumented immigrants who are already here -- a subject the Republicans aren't even close to agreeing on any particular plan or action. Self-deportation? Round everyone up and ship them back to their country of origin? Allow them to stay and work, but never become citizens? A path to citizenship? Anything? Republicans have no plan -- they don't even have a bad plan, they simply have nothing.

The biggest question hanging over Washington right now is how crazy the Republican response is going to be. The Republican leaders are desperately trying to head off any radicals from making odious and offensive statements in public, but my guess is they won't be successful in this effort. It won't take long before some Republican officeholder somewhere says something incredibly offensive, at least if recent history is any guide.

What else (other than exposing their extremism on the issue) will Republicans attempt to do? Well, there's always the "shut down the government in a temper tantrum" route. Again, Republican leaders are desperately trying to nip this knee-jerk action in the bud, as well as any even-more-extreme reactions (like impeachment). "We're suing him in court!" John Boehner offers up to the Tea Party, but that may not be red enough meat for them, at the end of the day.

The redder the meat for Tea Partiers, though, the more it looks to the middle-of-the-road American like nothing short of petulance and whining. Rather than attempting to set their own agenda in Congress next year, Republicans will be consumed with rage, caught in a loop of reacting to President Obama's actions.

Obama's gutsy move on immigration places the issue front and center, right at the earliest beginnings of the 2016 presidential campaign. An issue the Republicans would have much preferred to merely issue platitudes and bromides about will now have to be addressed in a lot more detail. If Republicans hate Obama's plan so much, then what are they for, instead? What would they do differently? What is their solution to the problem? Instead of being able to dodge the tough questions, Republicans (especially those contemplating a run for the White House) are going to have to come up with real answers to those questions, for better or for worse. If Obama had failed to act, this would not have been true.


Let's see... was there any one Democrat who stood out in any particular way this week?

We are joking, of course. Because this week belonged to President Barack Obama. Obama decided to provide some leadership in an area sorely needing some, he decided to do what he thought was right, and he decided that he had had enough of the warnings of political implications of his action. What happens next is anyone's guess, but in one way or another this will be one of the more notable weeks of his entire presidency. Later, looking back, both historians and average Americans will put immigration reform within the top three most meaningful policies Obama ever achieved (the health care law and saving the economy from ruin would likely be the other two). Whether you are cheering Obama's action or howling in disagreement, you have to admit this is a big deal.

We're in the cheering section, just to be clear. Which is why there are absolutely no other candidates this week for our Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award. President Obama just made the lives of millions of American families a lot better. The question of which party is more friendly to the wants and needs of Latino voters is now crystal clear. The question of which political party still has racist elements within it and actively works against the hopes of Latinos is about to also be definitively answered.

President Obama could have taken his midterm defeat hard, and begun another round of "offering a hand to the other side" (only to have it slapped down, once again). He chose not to do so, this time. He chose to chart his own course. Which will indeed be remembered in the future, one way or another. For his bold and gutsy action on immigration and deportation policy this week (and for introducing it in one of the snappiest speeches he's ever given on any subject), Obama is hereby awarded his forty-fourth Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week. Stay strong, Mister President.

[Congratulate President Barack Obama on the White House contact page, to let him know you appreciate his efforts.]


We're pretty sure that Obama will see some defections in the ranks on his new immigration policy. There will doubtless be a handful of senators and representatives from deep-red (and mostly-white) districts who will see a bigger political benefit to opposing Obama's new plan.

But, so far, we're unaware of any who have jumped in front of television cameras to do so. Partly this was due to Obama's timing -- he announced his new plan right after all of Congress had gone home for the Thanksgiving holiday (because they're so special, they all get to take an extra week off to celebrate). This greatly diminished the immediate reaction.

But, like we said, we're pretty sure it'll happen. Since it hasn't yet, we are not going to award a Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week this week. No other Democrats were notably disappointing this week (on other subjects), and it's too early to see if some Democrats are going to be disappointing on immigration reform. So, for now, no MDDOTW award. As always, if you think someone obvious was ignored, let everyone know about it in the comments.


Volume 328 (11/21/14)

President Obama already made the moral case for taking action, in his speech (which I wrote about last night, in a "snap reaction" column on Obama's speech). He laid out the reasons why he thought what he did was both imperative and the right thing to do. He directly challenged Republicans to "pass a bill" if they disagreed with him, knowing they will likely be incapable of doing so both for the rest of this year and in the new Congress next year.

Democrats interested in taking this high moral road and explaining their support for the president in such terms have no further to look than the text of Obama's speech, in fact. Which is why we're taking a slightly different tack for today's talking points. Because while Obama is free to take the high moral road, other Democrats are going to have to fight in the political arena, where such tactics aren't going to be sufficient to match Republican wrath at (as they now call him) "Emperor Obama."

So here are some suggestions for how Democrats should make the political case to support Obama's actions. These can be used by both politicians on a Sunday morning television chatfest, or by Americans who have to go home for Thanksgiving and argue politics with Cousin Earl or Uncle Jasper. Enjoy, and use responsibly, as always.


   The door should be open

Americans United For Change really deserves a lot of credit for digging this one out, and for how fast off the mark they got their new ad out.

"On the subject of immigration, allow me to quote President Ronald Reagan. [Pause for a few seconds.] OK, was that enough time for conservatives to properly genuflect? Didn't want to interfere with anyone's religious practices, there. Saint Ronnie was speaking about one of his favorite metaphors -- the 'shining city on a hill' -- and he said the following (and I quote): 'I've spoken of a shining city, all my political life... in my mind it was a tall, proud city... and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors. And the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.' Americans United For Change has a great new ad up contrasting Reagan's statements with Obama's speech, in fact. So I'd like to ask you, point-blank: do you support what Ronald Reagan said, or not?"


   Forty percent is forty percent

This one's not as snarky, but it's probably the best historical parallel to draw, for obvious reasons.

"In 1990, President George H. W. Bush used his executive power to defer deportations to keep family members together. His action affected forty percent of undocumented immigrants in the country at that time. This week, President Barack Obama did exactly the same thing for exactly the same reason -- Congress wouldn't act. Obama, like Bush, is deferring deportation for family members of legal residents. Obama, like Bush, is acting solely within his executive responsibility. Obama, like Bush, will better the lives of exactly the same percentage of undocumented immigrants -- forty percent of them. At the time, however, nobody -- Democrat or Republican -- threw a temper tantrum and started using words like 'king' or 'emperor' to describe Bush. Democrats in Congress actually passed the bill Bush wanted, and the problem was resolved. Why is what Obama just did any different than what Bush did? Why are conservatives reacting differently now then they did then? Forty percent is forty percent, folks."


   Unitary executive

I'm surprised more of the media have to be reminded about this one -- it wasn't all that long ago, after all.

"Remember George W. Bush's administration? They certainly weren't shy about deciding which laws passed by Congress they were going to change or ignore. All you have to do is to do a web search on 'unitary executive' or 'signing statement' along with Bush's name, and you'll find hundreds of instances where Bush and Vice President Cheney strenuously argued that what the president did within the executive branch was simply not the business of Congress or the courts -- because, according to them, that's what the Constitution intended. All the media would have to do, really, is go back a decade and start searching for what Republicans had to say at the time about the 'unitary executive' theory. You'll find plenty of quotes justifying presidents acting without the approval of Congress. So why is now any different, to them?"


   Where is the Republican plan?

Republicans have gotten by with having no plan at all for lots of issues, but that is all changing fast (and will even more when they take control of the Senate in January).

"Ask any Republican about what their plans are for immigration reform, and they'll always try to run out the clock talking about border security. Border security, secure the border, build a giant wall, put in a moat with alligators -- they fall all over themselves in a frenzy of one-upmanship. But they refuse to talk about anything else. Because they have no plan. What is the GOP plan for the 11 million people here? What should America do about them? Should they stay or should they go, and if so, how? The 11 million is a subject that Republicans just won't address in any way whatsoever, especially after Romney's 'self-deportation' idea went over like a lead balloon. But now that the president's acted, Republicans are going to be forced to deal with the question one way or another. What is the Republican plan for the 11 million? If they have one, I certainly haven't heard it yet. The president's got a plan, which he announced. What is the Republican plan? Anyone?"


   Do your job

Keep these short and punchy.

"Republicans in Congress need to do their job. President Obama has done his. If Republicans don't like it, then they need to pass a bill. Next year they will have absolutely no excuse not to, since they'll control Congress completely. So pass a bill! Where are the Republican plans for immigration reform? Write them into bills and pass them! Refusing to do so is no longer an option, if you want to stop Obama's actions. Instead of whining about Obama, how about Republicans actually do their jobs, for once? Pass a bill! Do your jobs -- Obama's doing his."


   Not one thin dime

This is deliciously ironic, so get all the amusement from it you can.

"Republicans in Congress all wanted to use their famous 'power of the purse' to stop Obama's new immigration policy. They were going to de-fund the agency responsible for doing all the paperwork to implement Obama's new policy. There's only one problem -- the agency is entirely self-financed, meaning Congress has no control over their budget at all. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services are funded by the fees immigrants pay. This was intentionally done by Congress so that taxpayers wouldn't have to pay one thin dime for the immigration service. No taxpayer money is used at all -- just filing fees from immigrants. It's pretty funny when you think about it -- congressional Republicans can't de-fund the agency responsible because they don't fund it in the first place. So what are Republicans going to de-fund? The whole Homeland Security Department, including the Border Patrol? I seriously doubt it."


   Not the first...

The Washington Post has a great look back through the ages at how many different presidents were on the receiving end of strikingly similar language. I was going to use this image anyway today, but have to tip my hat to them for being so thorough, rather than just looking for the earliest instance.

"This isn't the first time a president has been called 'king,' and it certainly won't be the last. Americans as a whole have always disapproved of monarchy, going all the way back to when we overthrew one. Since then, it's been a common refrain for many presidents. Here is what we'd call an editorial cartoon of Andrew Jackson, for example:

[Click on image to see larger-scale version.]

"This image, from the Library of Congress, shows 'King Andrew The First' standing in the robes of royalty, trampling on: the U.S. Constitution, 'Internal Improvements,' and the U.S. Bank. Discarded on the ground is also a book titled 'Judiciary of the U. States.' He holds in his hand the veto, which enraged the Congress of his day. Here is just one tiny part of what Senator Henry Clay had to say about Jackson, in a thundering floor speech:

The eyes and the hopes of the American people are anxiously turned to Congress. They feel that they have been deceived and insulted; their confidence abused; their interests betrayed; and their liberties in danger. They see a rapid and alarming concentration of all power in one man's hands. They see that, by the exercise of the positive authority of the executive, and his negative power exerted over Congress, the will of one man alone prevails, and governs the Republic. The question is no longer what laws will Congress pass, but what will the executive not veto?

"In fact, the language Clay used in this speech was so anti-monarchical that the anti-Jackson faction coalesced into a new political party, which named itself for the most anti-monarchical party in England at the time of the Revolution: the Whigs. The very name Whig signifies what they thought of 'King Andrew The First.' In other words, tossing around terms like 'tyranny' and 'despot' and 'king' and 'emperor' is nothing new in American politics. Obama's got plenty of company, considering how many other presidents have had the same charges flung at them."


Chris Weigant blogs at:

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President Obama: Don't Use Ferguson As 'An Excuse For Violence'

Huffingon Post Politics - Fri, 2014-11-21 20:11
As the nation awaits the grand jury's decision of whether to indict Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson for the killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, President Obama said that Ferguson should not be used as an "excuse for violence."

In an interview with ABC News George Stephanopoulos that aired Friday night, Obama acknowledged the right to protest over the killing of Brown, but urged that demonstrations remain peaceful.

"This is a country that allows everybody to express their views," Obama said. "But using any event as an excuse for violence is contrary to rule of law and contrary to who we are."

Obama's interview from Las Vegas was an excerpt of a longer version set to air Sunday on ABC's "This Week." Watch the video excerpt above.

Wilson shot Brown on Aug. 9, under disputed circumstances, sparking fierce protests in and around Ferguson, and a larger debate about race and police tactics.

The grand jury's decision on possibly indicting Wilson has been expected for weeks and may come soon. Guardian reporter Jon Swaine tweeted on Friday night that media had received information about official press conferences and other events after the grand jury makes its decision.

On Monday, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon activated the National Guard in advance of the grand jury decision. The FBI sent 100 agents to the area on Friday. Ferguson protesters were arrested on Thursday and Friday, as tension has mounted again. In advance of Obama's interview, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder released a video to advise police and protesters of how to avoid confrontation.

Immigration Reform, Lawful Authority and the Office of Legal Counsel

Huffingon Post Politics - Fri, 2014-11-21 19:49
Last night, the President announced several actions he was taking to improve "our broken immigration system." Actions like beefing up enforcement at the borders, prioritizing enforcement against felons, gang members, suspected terrorists and recent border crossers in the interior, and deferring the deportations of otherwise law abiding but undocumented persons when deportation would break up intact families where a child was lawfully present in the United States and updating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) that he first announced in 2012.

The reaction to the President's announcement from his critics has been swift and loud. Regrettably, they have focused nearly entirely on how the President has taken these actions, ignoring entirely any engagement on the merits of the steps taken. Perhaps that is because these do indeed seem to be sensible and constructive steps, partial though they must be in the absence of legislation. If the silence on the merits signals a good deal of support for the measures themselves, the new Congress ought to take up the President's invitation to enact immigration reform, which is long overdue. Legislation, the President acknowledged, can revise, improve upon, or even supersede every action he took last night.

Instead, critics seem fixated on accusing the President of "acting alone" in violation of his oath of office, and behaving lawlessly or like an emperor or king. These attacks ought not derail constructive legislative immigration reform -- if critics want to engage in allegations of lawlessness by the President, there ought to be plenty of bandwidth to do so while at the same time fixing our broken immigration system. Even better, however, would be for critics to abandon these attacks entirely, because they are without merit and serve only to deflect attention from the underlying dysfunction of that system.

The President Has The Lawful Authority to Take Executive Action. Within our constitutional system, it is indeed the Congress that writes the laws and the President that implements them. When those laws delegate discretionary authority to the President and he exercises that discretion, he is still implementing or executing those laws as his oath of office requires -- he is acting within the authorities granted to him by previous Congresses, authority that remains in place until and unless changed by a more recent law enacted by a more recent Congress.

This is ground that has thoughtfully been covered by Walter Dellinger's post on Slate, as well as Marty Lederman's post on Balkinization, which is also the original entry in an on-line symposium on the issue. Interested readers should stay tuned in to that symposium. And readers have an even more authoritative source to consult -- indeed, THE authoritative source within the executive branch, namely a formal legal opinion of the Office of Legal Counsel that the administration released yesterday just before the President's speech.

The existence of the OLC opinion should be no surprise. President Obama was similarly attacked when he announced the initial DACA, so prudence would clearly dictate making sure the legal authorities were carefully reviewed this time around, too. (The OLC opinion reveals in a footnote that that office was consulted prior to DACA as well). This opinion is hardly a rubber stamp for boundless presidential discretion under the immigration laws. It carefully discusses the applicable limitations, even concluding that one action that had been contemplated internally -- deferring deportation for the parents of children covered by DACA -- exceeded what was permissible under existing law. At the same time, the discretion that all President's have under the Immigration and Naturalization Act and its subsequent amendments is quite substantial, and the actions the President did announce fall well within it.

Remarkably, however a post up on the Federalist Society web page casts aspersions on the OLC opinion and its release. It contains an grab bag of points against the "not very long" OLC opinion (the opinion is 33 pages long, quite long enough to do its job) that seem intended to raise suspicions about it.

We Should Applaud the Release of the OLC Opinion. The first criticism is somewhat mystifying, suggesting there is something suspect about releasing the opinion before the President's speech. Far from criticizing this, we ought to be applauding the transparency of the President in showing the public the legal justifications for his actions, which in this case includes the conclusion that one of his possible actions would be unlawful, something no President is eager to hear. Yet the OLC opinion concludes that the President lacked authority to extend deferred action to the parents of children eligible for DACA, and the President did not do so. The disclosure of OLC opinions can be contentious and requests for them have been resisted by administrations, both Democrat and Republican. The merits of individual decisions not to disclose can certainly be debated. But objecting to an opinion being released contemporaneously with a presidential action is a new one for me. The suggestion that "the opinion is being used, not so much to make a legal case, but as a PR move," is equally odd. When you know that the legality of your actions will be challenged, I suppose that showing the formal legal opinion that underlies them is a part of relating to the public, but isn't providing the legal case for the actions a good thing to do when their legality is going to be called into doubt?

Next, the Federalist post says that the fact that the Office of Legal Counsel provided only oral advice prior to the DACA decision ought to "send[] up red flags." The suggestion that oral advice merits a red flag simply misunderstands the way OLC works. In my experience working there -- and I have no reason to believe that the process is different in the Obama administration -- a substantial amount of legal analysis can go into the examination of a legal question when the ultimate work product is "only" oral advice. There is no reason to believe that the legal consideration that went into the DACA decision was any less rigorous than that which lies behind the written opinion just released. Besides, we now have the formal written opinion examining the President's most recent actions, one of which is to extend DACA. The legal defense being offered now applies equally to the initial action, so it is there is plain view for all to see.

Relying Upon the Immigration and Naturalization Act is Legally Sound -- Even Required. The post next objects to OLC's conclusion that a decision for deferred action based on preserving intact families is consistent with the congressional policy that went into the Immigration and Naturalization Act back in 1957. The post seems to concede that looking for consistency with congressional policy is a guidepost to whether the President's exercise of discretion is legally sustainable. The objection, rather, is that the INA is too old and that there is no newer statute upon which to rely. But the absence of a newer statute addressing the situation of approximately 11.3 undocumented persons is what prompted the President to act. There simply is no statute that speaks directly to the situation the President is addressing, one way or the other. The House has passed a statute seeking to undo the 2012 DACA decision, but both chambers must act to create new legislation, and that has not occurred. There is no dispute that the OLC opinion accurately identifies congressional policies that are embodied in the INA, and no subsequent act of Congress has changed that. Does the post's author want to contend showing compassion in situations that would break up intact families where one member is lawfully present in the United States has ceased to be one of our policies?

There Are No Anchor Babies. The post's last ostensible objection to the OLC memo actually has nothing at all to do with its legal content, or even with its timing. Instead, the post asserts that the effect of the President's actions is to validate the "Right's" anxiety about "anchor babies." "This is the idea -- false, but persistent -- that all an alien had to do to gain lawful status in the U.S. is to have a baby here. This is not actually the case under the immigration statute. But it is precisely the case under Obama's new program..." Nothing the President has done validates this idea. As the post itself acknowledges, being eligible for deferred action as a parent of a lawfully present child under the President's actions requires satisfying numerous other conditions. More importantly -- and as the OLC opinion points out several times -- deferred action does not alter one's legal status. Such persons remain out of compliance with the requirements to remain here -- deferred action simply defers deportation. That out-of-status-but-deferred situation is not a permanent way to address the situation and that state of affairs can change -- in either direction -- by passing legislation addressing the situation. That brings the conversation full circle: The Congress ought to pass legislation that fix the broken immigration system consistent with our values. The President has taken some steps in that direction. They are assuredly legal, but they are not enough.

Sen. Jeff Sessions: 'We're Not Going To Impeach President Obama'

Huffingon Post Politics - Fri, 2014-11-21 18:36
WASHINGTON -- Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) took impeachment over President Barack Obama's immigration action off the table on Friday.

"No, we're not going to impeach President Obama. Or have a move to impeach," Sessions said at a Heritage Foundation event and then added, "The president has certain powers and we truly believe -- and I think it's accurate to say that he abused those powers."

Sessions urged Congress to come up with an approach to reverse the president's executive action, which will grant deportation relief to some 4.4 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.

According to the Alabama Republican, Congress can counter the action by using the power of the purse.

"I can't recall such a massive alteration of the classical understanding of what laws mean in America, being wiped out as we see now," he said. "It's a serious constitutional question, and there are powers that Congress has and ought to use."

Sessions had written an op-ed on Thursday in which he noted Obama’s reluctance to bypass Congress on the issue of immigration in 2011:

Only a short time ago, President Obama himself admitted this action would be illegal and unconstitutional: "I know some people want me to bypass Congress and change the laws on my own," he explained, adding, "That's not how our democracy functions. That's not how our Constitution is written." President Obama also said that: "The problem is that I'm the president of the United States, I'm not the emperor of the United States. My job is to execute laws that are passed."

The senator referred to Obama as the United States' "first emperor" now.

Sessions’ Friday remarks contrast with recent comments from several other Republican lawmakers, like Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, who floated the idea of impeachment proceedings and even prison time.

“At some point, you have to evaluate whether the president’s conduct aids or abets, encourages, or entices foreigners to unlawfully cross into the United States of America,” Brooks said in an earlier interview with Slate. “That has a five-year in-jail penalty associated with it.”

The Fed Just Acknowledged Its Too Big To Jail Policy

Huffingon Post Politics - Fri, 2014-11-21 18:11
WASHINGTON -- The federal government until recently shielded big banks from criminal prosecution out of concern that convictions may damage the financial system, a top Federal Reserve official said Friday, explicitly acknowledging a policy long denied by the Obama administration.

The admission came during a tense exchange between William Dudley, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) at a Senate Banking Committee hearing meant to explore the cozy relations between federal regulators and the banks they supervise.

Until May, large financial institutions investigated for wrongdoing had dodged criminal prosecution under the Obama administration, despite evidence from federal regulators and prosecutors showing that big banks had, for instance, laundered money for suspected terrorists and drug cartels; manipulated interest rate benchmarks; rigged various commodities markets; mislead investors in mortgage-linked securities; duped homeowners into taking out expensive mortgages; manipulated municipal debt markets; and broke state and federal rules when attempting to seize homes after borrowers fell behind on their payments, a scandal that became known as "robosigning."

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have long suspected that federal prosecutors didn’t pursue guilty pleas because they were afraid the consequences -- a potential unraveling of a giant bank -- would endanger the global economy. Attorney General Eric Holder suggested that was the case in March 2013, but quickly walked back his comments after a public outcry.

It wasn’t until May that years of persistent criticism eventually gave way to a guilty plea by Credit Suisse, the giant Swiss bank, to allegations it helped thousands of Americans hide their wealth to evade U.S. taxes.

But until Friday, no senior federal official had acknowledged this was explicit U.S. policy.

“We were not willing to find those firms guilty before, because we were worried that if we found them guilty, that could somehow potentially destabilize the financial system,” Dudley said. “We've gotten past that and I think it's really important that we got past that.”

Dudley’s admission was just one of several cringe-worthy exchanges during an hour-long appearance before a committee intent on holding him accountable for regulatory lapses.

Senate Democrats seized on recent news media and government reports that found widespread regulatory failures at the Federal Reserve, specifically at Dudley’s branch in New York. A recent report from the central bank's inspector general found that the Fed dropped the ball on JPMorgan's London Whale debacle, which lead to $6.2 billion in losses for the bank. Former New York Fed employee Carmen Segarra also released tapes showing higher-ups at the New York Fed ordering lower-level regulators to go easy on Goldman Sachs.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) tore into Dudley over a risky transaction between Goldman and a Spanish bank, Santander, which was designed to help Santander dodge European capital rules. Dudley claimed that he did not know whether he or anyone at the New York Fed had contacted European authorities to inform them of the deal's intent after waving it through.

WATCH Warren's exchanges with Dudley in the video above.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) aggressively questioned Dudley's claim that the New York Fed had helped end too big to jail with the Credit Suisse case. No human beings are actually in jail for Credit Suisse's tax evasion scheme -- either the Americans who stashed cash in secret, illegal offshore accounts, or the Credit Suisse employees who executed the scheme. The criminal investigation into Credit Suisse, Merkley emphasized, was spurred by a report from Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), not the Fed.

"You're the regulator," Merkley said. "Doesn't that mean you're asleep at the switch?"

Republicans made things hard on Dudley by not showing up. Only five senators attended the hearing, and one, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), asked no questions. The others -- Sens. Brown, Warren, Merkley and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) are bank reform hawks who have long been critical of the Fed's weak oversight.

Reed opened his questioning by taking issue with the way regional Fed presidents like Dudley are elected, noting that banks have a big say in who ultimately oversees them. Each regional fed board has three classes of directors -- one selected by banks, another headed by corporate leaders selected by banks, and a third that is supposed to represent other public interests. The corporate and public interest directors choose the Fed president. Since big banks like Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase select the corporate directors in the New York region, they exercise a great deal of influence over the process. Dudley himself is a former Goldman Sachs banker.

And while Dudley insisted that he had changed the culture of the New York Fed for the better since succeeding Timothy Geithner, who left to serve as treasury secretary, he also pushed back against calls for more aggressive oversight of the banking system. He rejected Warren's suggestion that the Fed's bank regulators should function as "the cop on the beat" looking out for misconduct.

"There is an enforcement element to it, but I don't think our primary purpose as supervisors is really the cop on the beat," Dudley said. "Now that doesn't mean that if we see something, we should walk by and ignore it. I don't think that's the case at all."

"You don't think you should be doing any investigations?" replied an incredulous Warren. "You should wait to see if it jumps in front of you?"

"Because I think our primary focus on supervision is ensuring that the bank is safe and sound, that it's run well," Dudley said.

After 90 grueling minutes, the committee let Dudley go.

"Is there a cultural problem at the New York Fed?" Warren asked earlier in the hearing. "I think the evidence suggests that there is. ... Either you need to fix it, Mr. Dudley, or we need to get someone who will."


Huffingon Post Politics - Fri, 2014-11-21 18:07
It being the day after Joe Biden's birthday, one imagines he spent it apologizing and making assurances that he'll never touch Wild Turkey again. John Boehner said the president "sabotaged" his relationship with Congress, though didn't add if any wells had been poisoned. And Al Franken is targeting Uber. We don't think a newly detailed Acura and complimentary water bottle will make him change his tune. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, November 21st, 2014:

BENGHAZI ANSWERS! - But, but, but… AP: “A two-year investigation by the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee has found that the CIA and the military acted properly in responding to the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, and asserted no wrongdoing by Obama administration appointees. Debunking a series of persistent allegations hinting at dark conspiracies, the investigation of the politically charged incident determined that there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue, and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria. In the immediate aftermath of the attack, intelligence about who carried it out and why was contradictory, the report found. That led Susan Rice, then U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, to inaccurately assert that the attack had evolved from a protest, when in fact there had been no protest. But it was intelligence analysts, not political appointees, who made the wrong call, the committee found. The report did not conclude that Rice or any other government official acted in bad faith or intentionally misled the American people.” [AP]

OBAMA DEFENDS IMMIGRATION ACTION - Politico: “President Barack Obama on Friday kicked off his sales pitch for the executive actions he unveiled on Thursday night by traveling to the same high school where he began his push for immigration reform nearly two years ago. But even after introducing the most sweeping relief to undocumented immigrants in decades, Obama was briefly derailed by a protester arguing that the president had not gone far enough. ‘I’ve heard you and what I’m saying to you is, we’re still going to have to pass a bill,’ Obama said to a young man whose shouts were drowned out by supportive chants from the audience surrounding him at Del Sol High School. ‘This is just a first step.’ Yet he still painted his actions as dramatic. ‘Our immigration system has been broken for a very long time, and everybody knows it,’ he said. ‘For years we haven’t done much about it. Well, today, we’re doing something about it.’” [Politico]

BOEHNER WILL FIGHT YOUR IMMIGRANTS ON THE BEACHES, ON THE LANDING GROUNDS, IN THE HILLS AND IN THE STREETS - He’s not happy. Mike McAuliff: “House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) vowed Friday to push back against President Barack Obama's executive action shielding up to 5 million unauthorized immigrants from deportation, accusing him of sabotaging any chances of comprehensive legislative action to reform the immigration system. The president announced Thursday his intentions to shield from deportation up to 4 million parents of American citizens and up to 1 million other people who live in the United States without proper documentation, prompting howls of rage from Republicans. Boehner said he would not stand by and let Obama accomplish his plan, but did not say how or when. ‘With this action, the president has chosen to deliberately sabotage any chance of enacting bipartisan reforms that he claims to seek. And as I told the president yesterday, he's damaging the presidency itself,’ Boehner said in a news conference outside his Capitol Hill office.” [HuffPost]

ENZI, SESSIONS FACING DOWN OVER BUDGET GAVEL - Fight! Fight! Fight! The Hill: “Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) will seek the Senate Budget gavel for the next Congress, his aide announced Friday, igniting a showdown with fellow Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.). ‘Under the Republican Conference rules, he has seniority for the post and it is Senator Sessions that is challenging him, not the other way around,’ Enzi’s press secretary Daniel Head said in a statement. Enzi’s decision to throw himself into the budget race is bound to ignite a fierce battle over the gavel. Sessions had been positioning himself to be the panel’s chairman and delivered a keynote speech on his priorities at a budget conference the first day of the lame-duck session. A request for comment from Sessions’ office was not immediately returned. Enzi’s seniority could help him, however, during the committee elections that are expected to happen January.” [The Hill]

Tom Coburn said there would be riots if President Obama issued an executive order on immigration. There weren’t any.

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REPUBLICANS UNSURE HOW TO DEAL WITH FILIBUSTERS - Jen Bendery: “Some Republicans have strong feelings on the need to revert to the 60-vote threshold, in the name of fostering bipartisanship and restoring collegiality. ‘I've always been an advocate to go back to the way it was before,’ said Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.). ‘I'm going to be strongly backing [Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's] effort to return the Senate to regular order,’ said Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who complained about Democratic leaders preventing debate on legislation as well as nominees...others said Democrats should have to experience being in the minority under the rules change that they made. ‘Personally, I think we ought to stay right where we are,’ said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). ‘My view at the time they did it was, if this rule changes, it's likely never to revert back to where it was,’ said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). ‘We'll have to see.’” [HuffPost]

GOP FINALLY GETS AROUND TO OBAMACARE LAWSUIT - Roll Call: “Four months after the chamber authorized a lawsuit against President Barack Obama — and on the third try with an attorney after the first two lawyers bailed — the GOP-controlled House has formally filed its case, Speaker John A. Boehner announced Friday. ‘Time after time, the president has chosen to ignore the will of the American people and re-write federal law on his own without a vote of Congress,’ the Ohio Republican said in a statement. ‘That’s not the way our system of government was designed to work. ‘If this president can get away with making his own laws, future presidents will have the ability to as well. The House has an obligation to stand up for the Constitution, and that is exactly why we are pursuing this course of action,’ Boehner said.” [Roll Call]

AL FRANKEN TAKING ON UBER - Emil Michael is quickly becoming the Joe Francis of the tech world. Bloomberg: “Two weeks after he easily secured a second term, Minnesota Senator Al Franken is plunging into the scrum of journalists, investors, and technologists now questioning the ride-share company Uber. In a letter sent Wednesday to Uber's chief technological officer, Travis Kalanick, Franken asks about the news, broken by BuzzFeed's Ben Smith, that Uber senior vice president Emil Michael speculated about paying to dig up dirt on reporters covering the company. Franken pulls the same thread that BuzzFeed and the tech media have pulled all week, asking questions about Uber's omniscient data knowledge...Franken concludes by saying that he expects answers to his questions by Dec. 15. (In an email Thursday, Uber spokeswoman Natalia Montalvo said the company will “be responding to Sen. Franken's questions in the coming weeks.”) The timing underscores his problem: As a member of the expiring Democratic majority, Franken is losing his gavel in the Privacy, Technology and the Law subcommittee of Senate Judiciary.” [Bloomberg]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here are some goats standing on things .

YOUNG PEOPLE ARE IGNORANT: YOUNG PEOPLE - Ariel Edwards-Levy: “Young Americans aren't just less likely to vote than their older compatriots. They're also less likely to believe that everyone should cast a ballot, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll. Most Americans age 45 and over say everyone should vote, according to the survey. But people under 30 are more than twice as likely to say that only the well-informed should cast a ballot as they are to say that all eligible citizens should do so. ‘The results don't startle me,’ said Peter Levine, director of Tufts University's Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. ‘I've often encountered young people who say that the reason they don't think they personally should vote is they're not well-informed, and they take that as kind of a moral position that they're not really qualified to vote.’ Exit polls show that those young Americans who did vote this year reported paying a significant amount of attention to the election.” [HuffPost]


- “The Big F*cking Joe Biden Calendar,” a calendar for all you Joe Biden fans.

- “Wet Hot American Summer” as a Scorsese film.

- Forgotify is a web app that only plays music from Spotify that’s never been played

- Fans of poop rejoice: there’s a website that geotags all of San Francisco’s waste complaints


@LOLGOP: But remember, the guys who've never told the truth about Benghazi or anything are very upset about the ethics of how the ACA passed.

Because we can't do Benghazi anymore

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The Green Industrial Revolution: Here Now

Huffingon Post Politics - Fri, 2014-11-21 18:06
Co-authored with Grant Cooke

The First Industrial Revolution that arose in England in the late 18th century was a turning point in human history. Until then, draft animals had been the major economic power source. Then James Watt, an English mechanical engineer, changed everything when he redesigned and improved the steam engine. Watt's creative insight, allowed Great Britain to led the revolution in machine-based manufacturing.

The Second Industrial Revolution started in the U.S. around the end of the 19th century. America developed the beginnings of a domestic oil industry and coupled that volatile fuel with the tremendous power of the internal combustion engine. Together they powered a previously unimaginable world of machines and personal transportation. Thomas Edison with his electricity and then Alexander Graham Bell with the telephone revolutionized the daily lives of ordinary people and led to telecommunication centers, huge data server farms and complex electrical networks, all of which required vast amounts of energy.

Since the First Industrial Revolution, the planet has been getting hotter and smokier, and more crowded, creating severe environmental consequences. Each day, precious resources get scarcer. Today there are 7 billion people living on the planet, and by 2053, the UN predicts that there will be 10 billion people. Compounding the problems is the rise of a middle class in developing nations. People in emerging nations want to get out of poverty. They want the things that developed nations have--nice clothes, nutritious food (including animal protein for their children), and large, air-conditioned, electrified homes as well as education and a future for themselves and their children. They also want the things that most citizens of developed nations take for granted: washing machines, cell phones, refrigerators, televisions, and cars.

Add it up, and the world will soon be resource-constricted, particularly since the planet is running out of fossil fuels. We are reaching a tipping point with our fragile planet, and how the world responds, or does not respond, to climate change will have an unprecedented impact on the course of human history. This is exactly what prompted the agreement between US President Obama and PRC (China) President XI in mid-November to "collaborate" and work together on reducing each countries carbon emissions.

With China's emissions and pollution now making it the top nation (over-taking
the US) as the world leader in greenhouse gases (GHG), the impact on the health of every person in China, especially the nation's Capital, Beijing, was both remarkable and costly in terms of human health and the environment. The rapid building there and around the country, over the last decade, moved China into recognizing the need to stop GHG as well as revising pollution. The cost in health, lives and the environment forced a difference in the PRC National Government which took office and then implemented plans with funds and financing in 2012.

The issue is that there is a cost to reducing GHG as it also means stopping the nation and local dependence on fossil fuels. For China that means moving off of its historical dependence on coal to other lower emission fossil fuels and even nuclear power. Unfortunately, that change in energy resources mean that China would need to get natural gas from Russia (a major problem for them for economic, security and infrastructure reasons such as pipelines) and also Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) sent by ships primarily from Australia. But fortunately, there is global evidence that a new era driven by sustainable green energy generation, innovative smart green technologies, and public sensitivity toward the environment has emerged. It started in Asia in the 1980s and then the Nordic Countries in the 1990s as well as then with Germany leading at the turn of the 21st Century.

We are calling this new industrial and hence economic era the Green Industrial Revolution, or GIR for short. The GIR has already proven to be viable, economic and successful in Japan, Korea and the Nordic countries where it has gone well beyond the First Industrial Revolution in the 18th century, the Second Industrial Revolution of the 20th century and what some call the Third Industrial Revolution at the turn of the 21st Century. The Green Industrial Revolution has replaced the carbon-generated and even nuclear power infrastructures with renewable energy, storage system technologies, and smart green on-site distributed grids.

Prompted by the Arab Oil Embargo of the 1970s, the Green Industrial Revolution started to emerge at the end of the 20th century. Initially proclaimed as occurring in northern Europe, it actually began in Japan and South Korea before it emerged in Europe.

As a small and densely populated island nation of 130 million people, Japan has a tradition for the need of energy, but with "no waste" that dates back to the Middle Ages. By the 1980s, Japan and South Korea were concerned with the need to become energy independent and secure. As a result, they developed national policies and programs to reduce their growing dependency on foreign fuels. By the beginning of the 21st century, China had leapfrogged the USA into this new era, driven by unprecedented economic growth and development, urbanization and infrastructure needs.

In northern Europe, the Green Industrial Revolution received a big push from Germany's Energiewende and its feed-in-tariff (FiT) program. Germany became the number one producer and installer of solar panels for homes, offices, and large open areas from 2006-09. In 2010, Italy then took the FiT concept into its economic and culture so that it held the distinction of world leader in solar panel installation. China took the lead in 2011 and continues as the number one solar panel and photovoltaic manufacturer and installer. Japan is now leading in auto manufacturing, jumping ahead of the competition with its hybrids.

The Green Industrial Revolution, with its extraordinary new technologies and promise of thousands of new green jobs, is trying to come to America. It is hampered by the lack of a national energy policy, and a political process that is beholden to the fossil fuel industry. Big Oil and now Natural Gas, which calls itself "clean energy", have been America's "elephant-in-the room" for over a hundred years, exploiting the nation's resources, pushing the country into a dependence on foreign oil producers who are politically destabilizing, and not aligned with our national interests.

The natural gas industry sees the rise and commercialization of hydrogen fuel cell cars from all the auto manufacturers around the world as its future. The industry anticipates being "selected" as the primarily source for hydrogen to refuel the thousands of hydrogen-powered cars predicted to be on the roads, starting with California and other areas of the US in 2015. A recent biding process in California awarded 20 out of 25 hydrogen refueling stations to one natural gas company. And Yes. There are ethical and conflict of interest issues in this process and the one company selected. These companies have "influenced" decisions made on the refueling stations as they know that these stations will need to be paid for over decades and make the consumers of all transportation systems dependent upon them: drilling, processing, pumping (pipelines and trains) as well as reforming into hydrogen energy for vehicles.

A new era of sustainability and carbonless energy generation is here now. The push , public policy, economics and technologies for renewable energy with a carbonless lifestyle will become history's largest social and economic megatrend. The potential of extraordinary benefits in the form of economic revival, innovation, emerging technologies, and significant job growth for those nations capable of fast entry is here today. Developing nations know this. Developed ones, like the US are still trapped in the Second and Third Industrial Revolutions. Indeed, the world has changed.

Jon Stewart Pokes Democrats For Cynical Keystone XL Pipeline Ploy

Huffingon Post Politics - Fri, 2014-11-21 05:44
Supporters of the Keystone XL Pipeline claim it'll create jobs, but as Jon Stewart pointed out on Thursday night's "Daily Show," Senate Democrats are worried about just one job: that of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who is fighting for her seat in a runoff election.

Landrieu is trailing in the polls and the race won't change the balance of power in the Senate, but some Democrats have dropped their opposition to the project hoping it'll help her keep the seat.

"So the party that lost the midterm elections because it didn't stand for anything has decided, 'Oh, I got an idea -- what if we stood for less?'" Stewart said.

The Democrats aren't the only ones abandoning core principles to push through this project. Republicans who claim to support property rights don't seem too concerned that the pipeline may require extensive use of eminent domain to complete.

Watch Stewart tear into the Democrats in the clip above. Then, check out the segment below to see what he has to say about Sen. Ted Cruz & Co.

U.S. Navy Ships Collide In Gulf Of Aden; No Injuries

Huffingon Post Politics - Fri, 2014-11-21 03:23
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A US Navy spokesman says two of its supply ships briefly collided in the Gulf of Aden but that no one was injured.

The spokesman for the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, Cmdr. Kevin Stephens, says the USNS Amelia Earhart and the USNS Walter S. Diehl were involved in a minor collision during an exchange of goods early on Thursday. Stephens, who spoke to The Associated Press over the phone, says the ships continued to operate with "relatively minor damage."

The two ships resupply U.S. Navy warships that conduct operations for the U.S. 5th Fleet, which is based in Bahrain.

Naval "underway replenishments" typically involve ships coming within 100 to 150 feet, or 30 to 45 meters, of one another and ferrying dry goods across cables and fuel through hoses.