Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), an anti illegal immigration non-profit group, says that since 2009, the Obama administration has systematically weakened effective immigration enforcement policies, moved aggressively against state and local governments that attempt to enforce immigration laws, and stretched the concept of “prosecutorial discretion”.
The result, FAIR says, is that despite the fact that the U.S. Constitution grants Congress plenary authority over immigration policy, the Executive Branch is now making immigration policy unconstrained by constitutional checks and balances. “This report chronologically highlights the process that has unfolded over the past three and half years,” FAIR says.
The groups says that a review of the Obama administration’s record shows:
The administration’s effort to end policies that enforce and deter illegal immigration. This includes the cessation of meaningful worksite enforcement against employers who hire illegal aliens and the removal of the illegal workers. It also includes ending effective partnership programs with state and local governments, such as the 287(g) program, that provide a structure through which state and local agencies may enforce immigration laws.
The administration’s “intimidation” (FAIR’s words) of state and local governments determined to enforce federal immigration laws. President Obama has turned the Department of Justice into the administration’s attack dog, filing lawsuits against states that pass their own immigration enforcement laws. When lawsuits fail, the Department’s Civil Rights division launches meritless investigations designed to harass local governments and officials who attempt to enforce the law.
News from http://thethorntonreview.com
News you can use
Many vets seek help after being sexually abused
WASHINGTON -- More than 85,000 veterans were treated last year for injuries or illness
stemming from sexual abuse in the military, and 4,000 sought disability benefits,
underscoring the staggering long-term impact of a crisis that has roiled the Pentagon and
been condemned by President Barack Obama as "shameful and disgraceful."
A Department of Veterans Affairs accounting shows a heavy financial and emotional cost
involving vets from Iraq, Afghanistan and even Vietnam, and lasting long after a victim
leaves the service.
Sexual assault or repeated sexual harassment can trigger a variety of health problems,
primarily post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. Although women are more likely to
be victims, men made up nearly 40 percent of the patients the VA treated last year for
conditions connected to what it calls "military sexual trauma."
It took years for Ruth Moore of Milbridge, Maine, to begin getting treatment from a VA
counseling center in 2003 -- 16 years after she was raped twice while she was stationed in
Europe with the Navy. She gets counseling at least monthly for PTSD linked to the attacks,
and she is also considered fully disabled.
"We can't cure me, but we can work on stability in my life and work on issues as they
arrive," Moore said.
VA officials stress that any veteran who claims to have suffered military sexual trauma
has access to free health care.
"It really is the case that a veteran can simply walk through the door, say they've had
this experience, and we will get them hooked up with care. There's no documentation
required. They don't need to have reported it at the time," said Dr. Margret Bell, a
member of the VA's military sexual-trauma team. "The emphasis is really on helping people
get the treatment that they need." amp; lt; /p
However, the hurdles are steeper for those who seek disability compensation -- too
steep, in the view of some veterans groups and lawmakers, who support legislation designed
to make it easier for veterans to get a monthly disability payment.
"Right now, the burden of proof is stacked against sexual-trauma survivors," said Anu
Bhagwati, executive director of the Service Women's Action Network. "Ninety percent of
26,000 cases last year weren't even reported. So where is that evidence supposed to come
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has said reducing the incidence of sexual assaults in the
military is a top priority. But it's a decades-old problem with no easy fix, as made even
more apparent when an Air Force officer who headed a sexual-assault-prevention office was
arrested on sexual-battery charges.
"We will not stop until we've seen this scourge, from what is the greatest military in
the world, eliminated," Obama said after summoning top Pentagon officials to the White
House last week to talk about the problem. "Not only is it a crime, not only is it
shameful and disgraceful, but it also is going to make and has made the military less
effective than it can be."
The VA says 1 in 5 women and 1 in 100 men screen positive for military sexual trauma,
which the VA defines as "any sexual activity where you are involved against your will."
Some report that they were victims of rape, while others say they were groped or subjected
to verbal abuse or other forms of sexual harassment.
But not all those veterans seek health care or disability benefits related to the
attacks. The 85,000 who sought outpatient care linked to military sexual trauma in the
latest full fiscal year are among nearly 22 million veterans across the country.
READ MORE - THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH http://thethorntonreview.com/
Oklahoma Tornado: Crews comb devastation; confirmed death toll lowered to 24
Rescue teams combed through pulverized buildings and splintered homes early Tuesday
after one of the deadliest tornadoes in U.S. history
http://www.spc.noaa.gov/faq/tornado/killers.html blasted through Oklahoma City and its
suburbs, killing at least 24 people, including nine children.
The confirmed death toll from the Oklahoma medical examiner was lowered from an earlier
figure of 51, illustrating the confusion as day broke over the shattered city of Moore.
Authorities cautioned that the toll could change again.
In Moore, where police said 19 people had been killed, entire blocks appeared as though
they had been razed, and cars were mangled beyond recognition. Piled up where houses once
stood were scraps of wood, clothes, glass and metal.
At least 120 people were injured in what President Barack Obama called "one of the most
destructive tornadoes in history."
Children were among the many missing after the tornado struck Monday afternoon and
delivered a direct hit to two elementary schools. Seven children drowned in a pool of
water at Plaza Towers Elementary School, which was all but leveled, officials said. The
twister also laid waste to a hospital.
"It's absolutely huge. It's horrific," Gov. Mary Fallin said on NBC's TODAY. "It looked
like somebody set off something that destroyed structures. Not blocks, but miles."
The threat was not over: Lightning flashed over rescue and cleanup crews, and
forecasters warned that more "large and devastating" tornadoes were possible,
big cities in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas also at risk.
SMARTPHONE USERS: WATCH LIVE COVERAGE FROM TODAY
Terry Watkins of the Department of Emergency Management said 101 people had been found
alive by search teams.
The death toll was revised after authorities determined that some people had been
counted twice in the chaos after the storm, said Amy Elliott, a spokeswoman for the
The dead included the 19 in Moore and five in southern neighborhoods of Oklahoma City,
said Moore police Sgt. Jeremy Lewis. The children killed included the seven at Plaza
Towers and one at Briarwood Elementary School, he said.
Children from Plaza Towers told of hearing sirens and running into a hall for cover,
some still carrying their math books. A teacher, Rhonda Crosswhite, said she huddled with
students in a bathroom stall and draped herself over them for cover as the storm hit.
"One of my little boys, he just kept saying, 'I love you, I love you, please don't with
me, please don't die with me,'" she told TODAY
"But we're OK. And we made it out, and it finally stopped."
She said all her students were accounted for.
Damian Britton, a fourth-grader, credited "Miss Crosswhite" with saving his life. He
estimated it took about five minutes for the twister to pass through before the students
emerged from cover to survey the damage and check on their classmates.
"It was just a disaster,'' he said. "There was just a bunch of stuff thrown around and
the cars were tipped over, and it smelled like gas."
READ MORE - U.S. NEWS NBC NEWS.COM
Apple prepares for Washington onslaught
Apple isn't taking any chances with senators looking to embarrass CEO Tim Cook on
Tuesday at a hearing on the tech giant's offshore $100 billion stash.
Monday night lawmakers were already gearing up, unveiling a report that alleges Apple
avoided paying taxes on $44 billion in offshore, taxable income.
A Senate panel says Apple did not break the law but did find a new way to limit its tax
burden -- three of its subsidiaries in Ireland do not pay income taxes to any country.
To deal with the nasty optics, Apple has turned to a top Washington law firm for help,
O'Melveny & Myers - veterans at trying to keep big companies out of trouble, like Enron,
Ford and Goldman Sachs.
Firms like O'Melveny & Myers work closely with committee investigators to track down
what CEOs can expect to face. And they try to limit the scope of the investigation before
the hearing even takes place.
Apple has also sent its own hired guns to Capitol Hill for recon duty. Their mission:
find out the planned line of questioning and expose any surprises senators plan to air.
Meanwhile, Cook and two other top execs are doing their homework in Apple's Washington
office, which has become ground zero for the company's preparations.
It all shows just how seriously Apple is taking the threat of a public spectacle that
can damage a brand with shareholders and the public -- even if senators never get around
to new regulation.
Corporate lobbyists, investigative lawyers and consultants say extensive preparation can
make the difference from getting through the process largely unscathed to creating a
bigger PR mess and potentially putting a company's bottom line in jeopardy.
"The goal is to make the hearing prep even more difficult than the hearing is going to
be. It sort of like boot camp," said Kirkland & Ellis' Brian Benczkowski, who prepped
senior witnesses at the Justice Department during the Bush administration and has
counseled senior execs at companies like Fisker Automotive in the private sector.
In Apple's case, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) is expected to hit the iPhone maker hard for
keeping money overseas - allegedly to avoid paying steeper U.S. taxes. Apple held $102.3
billion cash offshore as of March 30,according to a Securities and Exchange Commission
filing. That's a 24 percent increase from Sept. 30.
Levin has been a vocal advocate for tax reform of offshore tax havens and has
particularly focused on tech companies, calling Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft before
thepanel last year over the same issue.
On Monday, his panel released a 40-page bipartisan report that grabbed headlines by
outlining that Apple sheltered $44 billion from taxes - and how it did so.
Apple did not respond to a request for comment, but it did release its testimony Monday,
another sign of playing offense.
READ MORE - POLITICO
IRS officials tell Congress they were unaware of targeting
(Reuters) - Top Internal Revenue Service officials told Congress on Tuesday they were
unaware of the agencys targeting of conservative groups for extra tax scrutiny until
recently and were not deliberately misleading lawmakers last year when they did not reveal
Exasperated senators questioned the truthfulness of former IRS Commissioner Douglas
Shulman, who led the agency from 2008 to 2012, and outgoing acting IRS chief Steven
Miller. Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah accused IRS leaders of a "lie by omission."
At a Senate Finance Committee hearing, Shulman said he was "dismayed" when he read an
inspector generals report last week laying out evidence that IRS workers in Cincinnati,
Ohio, had inappropriately focused on groups with the words "Tea Party" and "patriots" in
Senators asked why Shulman did not reveal the practice, which started in March or April
of 2010, during congressional testimony in late March 2012. At the time, he rejected
conservatives complaints that the IRS was targeting groups for extra scrutiny.
"The full set of facts around these circumstances came out last week ... until that
point I did not have a full set of facts," Shulman said on Tuesday.
"What I knew sometime in the spring of 2012 was that there was a list that was being
used. I knew that the word "Tea Party" was on the list. I didnt know what other words were
on the list," he said.
A Treasury Department watchdog has said he informed Shulman about an investigation into
the matter in May 2012, but assumed IRS officials would have told Shulman about potential
targeting problems before that.
Lawmakers said they were disappointed in the answers, but Miller and Shulman denied they
had hidden the truth from Congress. "I did not lie, sir," Miller told Hatch.
Miller was forced to resign last week and more senior agency officials could be on the
firing line in the broadening scandal, as members of both parties have rushed to condemn
the IRS for overstepping its authority.
The rising political storm has undercut President Barack Obamas second-term agenda and
put the White House on the defensive as he tries to negotiate a budget deal with
Republicans and push a comprehensive immigration reform bill through Congress.
The hearing in the Democrat-controlled Senate Finance Committee featured a push for more
details about who ordered the extra tax scrutiny for conservative groups.
It also focused on what top officials knew about the practice, and when.
Those questions gained more urgency on Monday when the White House revealed that two
senior aides to Obama knew weeks ago about a draft Treasury Department watchdog report
detailing the IRS targeting that occurred for an 18-month period starting in early 2010.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler was notified
on April 24 of the reports preliminary findings, and that she told Chief of Staff Denis
McDonough and other senior staffers soon afterward.
Ruemmler chose not to inform Obama about the findings to avoid any appearance that he
had any role in shaping the report, Carney said.
Obama has said did not learn of the targeting until May 10, when IRS official Lois
Lerner apologized for the agencys actions while responding to a planted question at an
American Bar Association conference. Obama fired Miller after the inspector generals
report was released on May 14.
Miller on Tuesday took responsibility for the planted question at the event, calling it
"an incredibly bad idea." He said there were ongoing discussions about discipline for
Lerner, chief of the IRS tax-exempt unit.
The White Houses handling of the scandal has been a story line within the scandal and
raised questions about the ability of Obamas team to handle the crisis. The IRS scandal
comes as the White House faces scrutiny over the deadly attack on the U.S. mission in
Benghazi, Libya, last September and the Justice Departments tracking of reporters while
investigating national security leaks.
Late Monday, Treasury also acknowledged that it knew that the IRS planned to apologize
for agents behavior before the inspector generals report, but that Treasury officials left
the decision for how to do that with the IRS.
The leaders of the Senate Finance Committee - Democratic Chairman Max Baucus of Montana
and Hatch of Utah - sent the IRS a letter on Monday seeking a broad range of documents and
asking more than 40 questions covering three years of IRS activity.
READ MORE - REUTERS
Obama to take first major Africa trip in late June
President Barack Obama will leave on a first African tour next month, visiting Senegal,
Tanzania and South Africa, but his itinerary released on Monday bypasses Kenya, an
Obama disappointed many Africans by spending only a few hours in sub-Saharan Africa --
in Ghana -- during his first term, but is keen to implement a sweeping new regional
strategy, prioritizing democracy and economic reform.
Speculation will center on whether Americas first black president will see ailing
94-year-old South African anti-Apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, on a trip on which he will
be accompanied by First Lady Michelle Obama.
The White House said the long-awaited visit was intended to underscore Obamas
"commitment to broadening and deepening cooperation between the United States and the
people of sub-Saharan Africa" to advance peace and prosperity.
Obama will meet officials, businessmen, and civil society leaders, including young
people, on the trip between July 26 and August 3 -- an unusually long journey for a
president who normally dashes across timezones on trips abroad.
But early scrutiny will concentrate as much on where he will not go in Africa, as his
planned stops, with Kenya, the land of Obamas late father, where he still has living
relatives, a glaring omission.
Obama frequently uses his past and background to connect with foreigners, remembering
his childhood stays while in Indonesia, his Irish heritage in Ireland, and as a Hawaii
native, posing as Americas "first Pacific president."
But politics appears to have scuppered hopes for Obama to reconnect with his roots in
It would likely be seen as unseemly for Obama to appear with Uhuru Kenyatta, elected
president in March, who will go on trial in July at the International Criminal Court (ICC)
for crimes against humanity in post-election violence in 2007-08.
Obama did visit Kenya in 2006, shortly after he was elected to the Senate, but before he
announced his 2008 run for the White House.
His visit to Africa will follow a similar tour made by his wife Michelle in June 2011,
during which she met Mandela.
While the president is yet to mount a full tour of the continent, he did host a meeting
at the end of March with recently elected Senegalese counterpart, Macky Sall, along with
the leaders of Sierra Leone, Malawi and Cape Verde, lauding them as examples of "the
progress that we are seeing in Africa."
In 2011, Obama received four other African leaders at the White House, the presidents of
Benin, Guinea, Niger and Ivory Coast. He had promised them the US would remain a "stalwart
partner" to democracies in Africa.
In June 2012, Obama unveiled a sweeping new Africa strategy, with the goal of
reinforcing security and democracy on a continent facing the threat of Al-Qaeda and a
Chinese economic offensive.
The new US blueprint seeks to boost trade, strengthen peace, security and good
governance and bolster democratic institutions, declaring that a continent torn by
poverty, corruption and discord could be the worlds next big economic success story.
The administration touted "successes" from helping to restore democracy in Ivory Coast,
nurturing the new state of South Sudan, backing stability efforts in Somalia and engaging
young African leaders.
In his speech before Ghanas parliament in 2009, Obama proclaimed that even though the
continent now needs international aid, "Africas future is up to Africans."
Obamas visit will also likely throw a new focus on the Presidents Emergency Plan for
AIDS Relief, which was the brainchild of his predecessor George W. Bush and is credited
with saving millions of lives.
READ MORE - ALTERNET
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WASHINGTON — More than 85,000 veterans were treated last year for injuries or illness stemming from sexual abuse in the military, and 4,000 sought disability benefits, underscoring the staggering long-term impact of a crisis that has roiled the Pentagon and been condemned by President Barack Obama as “shameful and disgraceful.”
Rescue teams combed through pulverized buildings and splintered homes early Tuesday after one of the deadliest tornadoes in U.S. history blasted through Oklahoma City and its suburbs, killing at least 24 people, including nine children.
(Reuters) - Top Internal Revenue Service officials told Congress on Tuesday they were unaware of the agency's targeting of conservative groups for extra tax scrutiny until recently and were not deliberately misleading lawmakers last year when they did not reveal the practice.
President Barack Obama will leave on a first African tour next month, visiting Senegal, Tanzania and South Africa, but his itinerary released on Monday bypasses Kenya, an ancestral homeland.
Obama disappointed many Africans by spending only a few hours in sub-Saharan Africa -- in Ghana -- during his first term, but is keen to implement a sweeping new regional strategy, prioritizing democracy and economic reform.
News from http://thethorntonreview.com
News you can use
Marco Rubio: De-Fund Obamacare
Marco Rubio: De-Fund Obamacare, Or Else He’ll Shut Down The Government
There’s virtually no chance that Senator Marco Rubio ( R-FL) can ever compete with
Senator Rand Paul’s filibuster, given his dry mouth affliction, unless Poland Spring
backed a truck right in into the Capitol Building. But like his senatorial colleague,
Rubio enjoys wasting everybody’s time with political brinkmanship and grandstanding
to further his presidential aspirations.
As congress tires of the sequester’s finger-pointing negotiations, Rubio and his
fellow Teabagger politicians_ Ted Cruz (R-TX)_ and_ Mike Lee (R-UT) _joined in refusing to
compromise on the budget, unless there are provisions to strip Obamacare of its entire
During an appearance on Hugh Hewitt’s conservative talk radio program on Thursday
night, Rubio reiterated a host of tiresome, thoroughly-debunked,
batsh*t-crazy, and Baracknophobic assumptions regarding Obamacare, and its supposedly
massive ramifications for american businesses. Further, he suggested that he would have no
problem shutting down government completely if Obamacare wasn’t stripped of
its funding. Naturally, he made absolutely no mention of sacrificing his
own generous six-figure salary and tax-payer funded health plan.
HEWITT: Senator Rubio, the continuing resolution is headed your way. How is this stacking
up as Act III of the spending drama?
RUBIO:Well first of all, I don’t think anyone is in favor of shutting down the
government, BUT I THINK THAT’S WHERE WE’RE HEADED ULTIMATELY HERE, unfortunately, if
we don’t fix our debt problem… But here’s what I’ve said about this continuing
resolution. SENATOR CRUZ FROM TEXAS IS OFFERING THIS AMENDMENT TO DEFUND OBAMACARE. IF
THAT GETS ONTO THE BILL, IN ESSENCE, IF THEY GET A CONTINUING RESOLUTION AND WE CAN GET A
VOTE ON THAT AND PASS THAT ONTO THE BILL, I’LL VOTE FOR A CONTINUING RESOLUTION, EVEN IF
IT’S TEMPORARY, BECAUSE IT DOES SOMETHING PERMANENT, AND THAT’S DEFUND THIS HEALTH
CARE BILL, THIS OBAMACARE BILL, THAT IS GOING TO BE AN ABSOLUTE DISASTER FOR THE AMERICAN
ECONOMY. You’re already starting to feel the outer edges of that… I already am running
into businesses that are planning next year on not hiring people or laying some people off
so they don’t have to meet these mandates. Others are going to push their employees off
of their private plans that they offer and onto these exchanges, driving up the cost for
the public. So this is going to be an implementation disaster. It’s going to hurt our
economy severely. And we’re not spending enough time talking about that. (_Think
READ MORE - ADDICTING INFO
Jeb Bush still untested on national stage
Anyone watching the clumsy kickoff of his book tour this week had to acknowledge that his
political skills are a bit rusty six years after leaving Florida's Governor's Mansion.
Maybe, after all the gushing about his policy chops, strong executive record and ability
to broaden the appeal of conservative Republicans, Jeb Bush isn't ready for the national
Certainly anyone watching the clumsy kickoff of his book tour this week — where he
pushed the 2016 presidential door wide open — had to acknowledge that his political
skills are a bit rusty six years after leaving Florida's Governor's Mansion.
It's one thing to make an off-hand comment that requires backpedaling or clarification on
a hot-button issue. It's another to co-author a book on a controversial topic then make a
carefully planned publicity tour that prompts much of the political world to question not
only where you stand but what your motives are.
A series of national interviews this week made Bush look like a cross between Mitt Romney
— flip-flopper — and Rick Perry — having to walk back what he wrote in his own book.
Bush used to support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, but wrote in
his new book, co-authored by Clint Bolick, that he now only supports a pathway to legal
residency for illegal immigrants currently living in America.
READ MORE - TAMPA BAY
Panel clears bill to end guaranteed pension plan
Traditional pensions for new state and county employees, including teachers, would end
under a proposal that's advancing through the Legislature.
The House Appropriations committee on Friday voted 12-9 along party lines on a bill that
would do away with guaranteed pensions for workers hired as of January 2014. It would
replace pensions with individual investment accounts similar to 401(k) plans.
That will save the state nearly $13 million a year by 2016, according to Rep. Jason
Brodeur, the Sanford Republican who's sponsoring the bill (HB 7011).
"This bill reduces the state's risk, saves the taxpayers a great deal of money, keeps
every promise made to every current state worker, and offers robust benefits for our
future state workers," he said.
Democrats, labor unions and other critics are fighting the effort, saying state and local
governments will have to pay more into the current pension plan because there will be
fewer members paying into it.
READ MORE - HERALD TRIBUNE
Gov. Scott knows nothing about state tree giveaway
In 2009, the state settled with a Panhandle billboard company for $100,000 to be paid
interest-free over six years after illegally giving away $2 million worth of state-owned
So, what does Scott know about the issue? Nothing.
“I have not seen it,” Scott said during press availability Thursday.
When told the Times-Union discussed the settlement with both his staff and the department
prior to publishing a story last month, Scott still said he knew nothing about the
“I didn’t see it, no,” he said.
The July settlement came after a series of Times-Union stories, a grand jury finding the
trees were given away in “flagrant violation of the law” and admissions of wrongdoing
by department workers.
In a separate interview after he addressed the Senate Transportation Committee,
department Secretary Ananth Prasad said Thursday the settlement was much less than what
was given away illegally because the department also was at fault.
“I think the point in the whole process is the interpretation of the law by the
department was inconsistent, so there was exposure by the department,” he said.
“There is accountability on the department,” he added.
The issue emerged after a Times-Union investigation found, among other things,
Milton-based Salter Advertising received permits to cut the trees without submitting
required documents to show how they would replace the trees, pay costly mitigation fees,
turn over an estimated $4 million in older, nonconforming billboards or pay fines it
should have incurred after the trees were cut.
In the wake of the stories, the department reevaluated the rules and conducted staff
READ MORE - JACKSONVILLE
'Parent trigger' bill cleared by House panel
School-choice supporters revived a bill that would give Florida parents a say in
turnaround plans for failing public schools and saw its first win of the year on Thursday.
The House Choice and Innovation subcommittee cleared the "Parent Empowerment in Education
Act" (HB 867) on a party-line 8-5 vote.
Known informally as the "parent trigger" bill, it would allow parents to vote on what to
do with a failing school. Options include reassigning students to other schools or handing
the school over to a private company to run as a charter school.
The local school board makes the decision, but that decision - which may be against the
majority of parents' wishes - can be overruled by the State Board of Education.
And just as it did last year, the bill is summoning up the blood of both sides.
Opponents, like public school districts, teachers' unions and parents' groups, call it a
back-door way to hand public schools over to private educational companies. Backers say
that by giving parents a voice, it will encourage them to get involved in their children's
A similar bill passed the House in 2012 but died on the floor of the Senate in a tie
vote. Lobbyists for the measure privately say there are enough votes in both chambers for
it to pass this year.
Gov. Rick Scott, who must sign it into law, has yet to take a position on the proposal.
He's pushing lawmakers to support his plan to give Florida's teachers a $2,500 pay raise.
READ MORE - AP
Florida lawmakers lay groundwork for natural gas “fracking”
State Rep. Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, says that “every indication is at some point in the
future” fracking — or, more formally, hydraulic fracturing — will happen in Florida.
The national debate about a type of oil and gas drilling known as “fracking” has
never hit home in Florida.
Rodrigues on Thursday moved forward with a bill (HB 743) that would lead to companies
reporting the chemicals they inject into the ground while fracking in the state.
The House Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee voted unanimously to approve the
measure, which would direct the state Department of Environmental Protection to set up a
registry to collect the information about chemicals and volumes of water used in the
fracking process. Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, has filed the Senate version (SB 1028)
of the proposal, though it has not been heard in a committee.
Fracking involves injecting water, sand and chemicals underground to create fractures in
rock formations, which allows the release of natural gas and oil. The process has spread
in recent years, with supporters saying, at least in part, that it is opening up vast
supplies of natural gas.
But controversy in states such as New York and Pennsylvania has centered on whether the
process can contaminate groundwater and cause other damage to the environment. The
Associated Press reported that the New York State Assembly voted Wednesday to put off
until 2015 decisions about allowing the practice, though the state’s Senate has not gone
along with such a moratorium.
Rodrigues said his bill creating a Florida registry is modeled after a measure in Texas.
He said he thinks it is better to be “proactive” on the issue instead of waiting to
take action after fracking comes to Florida.
The Florida Petroleum Council expressed support for the bill during Thursday’s meeting,
while environmental groups did not offer opinions to the subcommittee.
Florida has long had oil drilling in parts of southwest Florida and the Panhandle. The
Fort Myers News-Press reported in October about emails it had obtained from the Department
of Environmental Protection that indicated discussions had been taking place about the
possibility of fracking in Florida.
READ MORE - PALM BEACH POST
BP faces escalating spill payouts after court ruling
BP must keep paying certain types of oil spill compensation in much larger amounts and to
more parties than it was expecting, according to a court ruling which could add billions
to its final bill.
The March 5 ruling, made by the New Orleans court where BP is battling to keep a lid on
other fines and penalties, was outlined in the company's annual report.
The decision applies to payments made as part of a settlement stemming from the Deepwater
Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 which BP has already agreed, but where the
actual amount is uncapped.
BP had earmarked $8.5 billion for payments which included claims for "Economic and
BP said it would appeal the ruling, which upheld the payout administrator's
interpretation of the settlement, and which has resulted in more and larger payouts than
BP had expected.
"BP strongly disagrees with the ruling of 5 March 2013 and the current implementation of
the agreement by the claims administrator," it said.
"BP intends to pursue all available legal options, including rights of appeal, to
challenge this ruling."
BP also removed about $800 million from its $8.5 billion estimate for compensation claims
under this part of its $42.2 billion of total spill provisions so far.
Far from signaling a lower potential final bill, however, BP said the reduction reflects
"the inherent uncertainty that exists... (over) the higher number of claims received and
higher average claims payments than previously assumed".
READ MORE - REUTERS
Rosa Parks statue in the Capitol
The new Rosa Parks statue that was unveiled at the National Statuary Hall.
She is the first African American woman to be honored with a life size statue in the
It was on December 1, 1955 that Rosa Parks exercised her right to sit where she wished on
a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. In honor of that day and the celebration of the 100th
anniversary of her birth, there was a ceremony for the unveiling of the Rosa Parks statue
in the Capitol on February 27, 2013. Many of Ms. Parks’ relatives were at the unveiling
ceremony. This wonderful picture of the statue comes from the Architect of the Capitol
According to a recent New York Times article
President Obama offered praise for Ms. Parks: “[The president] chronicled how Mrs.
Parks, despite having held no elected office, lacking wealth and living far from the seat
of power, touched off a movement that made it possible for him to become president.”
Other speakers said she united the country by choosing to be arrested, instead of giving
up her seat.
Rosa Parks was given the highest civilian honors from the White House and Congress.
When she died in 2005, she was the first woman “to lie in state” in the Capitol
She will always be remembered for what she did for America.
READ MORE - LOBBY COMPLY
Spring Forward Daylight Saving Time Starts Sunday
Ushering in the bloom of spring, it's time to set the clocks forward for daylight saving
At 2 a.m. local time Sunday, daylight saving time arrives with the promise of many months
ahead with an extra hour of evening sunlight.
You lose an hour of sleep, but make sure to turn the clock ahead - spring forward -
before heading to bed Saturday night to avoid the panic of a late rise.
It's also a good time to put new batteries in warning devices such as smoke detectors and
hazard warning radios.
READ MORE - AP
Michael Jordan applies for marriage license
After a legendary career on the basketball court, NBA legend Michael Jordan set another
kind of court abuzz Thursday when he and his fiancee applied for a Palm Beach County
http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/palmbeach/ marriage license.
Jordan, who turned 50 on Feb. 17, was spotted at the West Palm Beach courthouse with his
soon-to-be-wife, Cuban-American model Yvette Prieto, 34.
"I know some people shook his hand, but I don't think he lingered for very long," said
Kathy Burstein, spokeswoman for the Clerk and Comptroller in Palm Beach County
http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/palmbeach/. "I do know it was the buzz of the
courthouse this morning."
Burstein said Jordan and his fiancee were both required under law to be present for the
marriage license application.
The pair, who showed up at the courthouse unannounced, did not ask for any preferential
treatment and were processed just like any other license applicant, Burstein said.
"He came in, got his marriage license and that was that," Burstein said, adding that the
clerk's office has been taking calls from a slew of media outlets including celebrity
gossip site TMZ and the Associated Press.
Both Jordan and Prieto listed their residence as Jupiter on the application. They have 60
days to tie the knot before the $93.50 license expires, Burstein said.
READ MORE - SUN SENTINEL
Army suspends tuition assistance program for troops
The Army announced Friday it is suspending its tuition assistance program for soldiers
newly enrolling in classes due to sequestration and other budgetary pressures.
“This suspension is necessary given the significant budget execution challenges caused
by the combined effects of a possible year-long continuing resolution and
sequestration,” Paul Prince, an army personnel spokesman at the Pentagon, wrote in an
email to Stars and Stripes. “The Army understands the impacts of this action and will
re-evaluate should the budgetary situation improve.”
The Army’s announcement follows a similar move by the Marine Corps.
The Army’s tuition assistance program was available for troops to complete a high
school diploma, certificate program or college or master’s degree. Under the program,
the Army paid 100 percent of the tuition and authorized fees charged by a school up to
established limits of $250 per semester hour or credit hour or up to $4,500 per fiscal
“The Secretary of the Army has approved the suspension of Tuition Assistance effective
5 p.m. (Eastern Time) on March 8, 2013. Soldiers will no longer be permitted to submit new
requests for Tuition Assistance,” read a statement posted Friday on the GoArmyEd.com
website. “However, Soldiers currently enrolled in courses approved for Tuition
Assistance are not affected, and will be allowed to complete current course enrollment(s).
“This change in the Army Tuition Assistance program applies to all Soldiers, including
the Army National Guard and Army Reserves,” the statement read.
READ MORE - STRIPES
Scott: Need more funding help people with disabilities
Gov. Rick Scott made a stop in Orlando to promote his proposed $36 million hike in
funding for residents with severe disabilities
... a move embraced by families whose loved ones have spent years on a state waiting list
"This investment of your tax dollars changes people's lives," Scott told a few dozen
supporters at an adult day-training facility near Eatonville. "For the first time in eight
years… hundreds of families are going to get some support."
For Scott, the scene was a dramatic contrast to April 2011, when the governor ordered
steep cuts to the state Agency for Persons with Disabilities to halt its mushrooming
deficit. The move was so widely vilified that, two weeks later, Scott announced he had
negotiated a deal with lawmakers to reverse some of the cuts.
"Rick Scott is becoming the people's governor," 67-year-old Phil Pearson of Palm Coast
told the crowd. His 39-year-old son, Bill, who has cerebral palsy and "a touch of autism,"
has been on the state's waiting list since 2004. "No, he didn't start out that way — but
there was a good reason for that. … The state cannot print its own money."
When Scott took office, he inherited the financial troubles of the disabilities agency,
which had been underfunded by the Legislature for years. It still has a waiting list of
more than 20,000 residents with developmental disabilities such as Down syndrome, cerebral
palsy and autism. The additional $36 million, if passed by the Legislature, would fund
services for 750 to 1,000 of the most severely disabled.
"There's not enough money to help my son this year," Pearson said. "But at least we're at
the table. … And what worries me most is what will happen to him down the road, when I'm
not around anymore."
The funding covers a range of services designed to help individuals avoid living in a
nursing home. Those can include personal aides, transportation, therapy and respite care
to give family caregivers a break.
Top priority will be given to the most critically disabled, children in state care who
have pending adoptions and individuals whose family caregivers are age 70 or older.
READ MORE - ORLANDO SENTINEL
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No One Should Have to Live in Fear of Violence
Today, President Obama signed a bill that both strengthened and reauthorized the Violence
Against Women Act (VAWA).
Thanks to this bipartisan agreement, thousands of women and men across the country who
are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking will be
able to access resources they need in their communities to help heal from their trauma. In
addition, thousands of law enforcement officers will be better equipped to stop violence
before it starts, and respond to calls of help when they are needed.
President Obama and Vice President Biden have steadfastly supported
reauthorization—it’s what’s right for our country. We thank Senators Patrick Leahy,
Mike Crapo, and Patty Murray and Representatives Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and Gwen Moore
for guiding this legislation to passage.
For the past 18 years, since Vice President Biden initially wrote the Act in 1994, VAWA
has helped to decrease the rates of domestic violence across the country. Three years ago,
our federal interagency group on violence against women began meeting to consider gaps in
our country’s response to this violence and make recommendations to Congress to fill
those gaps. We are proud that many of these recommendations were included in the final
bill. Now, we will be better equipped to recognize violence in its early stages, and help
to reduce the number of domestic violence homicides.
The reauthorization also makes a strong effort to address the extraordinarily high rates
of violence among our young people. Last week, in honor of Teen Dating Violence Awareness
month, I had the opportunity to speak, along with Vice President Biden, at an event
with families of victims of dating violence, and youth and organizations. It was
incredibly encouraging to see people of all ages united in the fight against teen dating
I am proud to say that now, teens and young adults will have better access to prevention
and intervention programs to help break the cycle of violence aground the country. Studies
have shown that one in five women will be the victim of an attempted or completed sexual
assault while they are in college. We need to find a way to help these young scholars be
able to focus on growing and learning, instead of being fearful of being assaulted on
campus. This Act will help by requiring colleges and universities to provide information
to students about dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking and improve data
collection about these crimes. We call on all of our colleges and universities to make
ending sexual assault a top priority.
In addition, the bill removes barriers faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender
(LGBT) victims, whose needs are often overlooked by law enforcement, prosecutors, courts,
and victim service providers.
We are also thrilled that Congress held the line and maintained protections for battered
immigrants and took the important step of also reauthorizing the Trafficking Victims
Protection Act in this same legislation.
Finally and very importantly, VAWA will bring justice for Native American victims. Rates
of domestic violence perpetrated on Native American women are among the highest in the
country. VAWA will help to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the tribal justice
system and bring perpetrators of violence to justice.
No one should have to live in fear of violence, especially in her home, and VAWA affirms
that belief. Today’s signing ensures that victims and survivors can continue to be
provided the vital resources they deserve. Our country is better off for it.
READ MORE - THE WHITEHOUSE
Venezuelans pour into streets to mourn Hugo Chavez
Hundreds of anguished Venezuelans poured into the streets of downtown Caracas crying,
hugging each other and shouting slogans in support of President Hugo Chavez
after learning of his death Tuesday.
Clusters of women with tears streaming down their faces clung to each other and wept near
the Miraflores presidential palace. Some wore T-shirts with slogans that read "Go forward
Nearby, men with grim and somber faces pumped their arms in the air while shouting "Long
live Chavez! Long live Chavismo!"
People also gathered outside the military hospital where Chavez died. Soldiers in riot
gear stood shoulder to shoulder guarding the complex.
"I feel such big pain I can't even speak," said Yamilina Barrios, a 39-year-old office
worker weeping at a street corner. "He was the best thing the country had ... I adore him.
Let's hope the country calms down and we can continue the tasks he left us."
Many people left work and rushed home as shops and offices began to close early and
tension gripped the streets in Caracas, capital of a country deeply divided by the
socialist programs pursued by the charismatic Chavez.
READ MORE - CHRON
Nebraska considers closing juvenile jails
A long line of Nebraskans testified on a bill that would overhaul the state’s juvenile
justice system by moving to community-based treatment and closing the two juvenile jails
Nebraska locks up troubled kids at the third-highest rate in the nation, but the prospect
of closing the state’s two juvenile jails brought a wave of opposition from their
employees, union leaders, prosecutors and people who got help in the facilities.
Omaha Sen. Brad Ashford – who is leading the charge for reform – vowed to get
“substantial reform” passed this year by either closing or transforming the juvenile
“What we have now is not working,” he said, citing assaults in the centers and a lack
of “evidence-based” treatment. “No one is here to try to punish or penalize Kearney
or Geneva … but we absolutely must change a system that incarcerates youth at the rate
we are in Nebraska.”
His bill would create an Office of Juvenile Assistance to oversee the expansion statewide
of what is now a pilot project.
“There is no silver bullet to this problem,” Ashford said. “This committee has
labored for seven years to try to find a way to address in a substantial way the
ever-increasing number of children being incarcerated in our state.”
The bill’s co-sponsor, Omaha Sen. Bob Krist, said he’s glad the prospect of closing
the Geneva and Kearney jails got people’s attention. There will always be a need for a
detention facility, he said, but he said it’s time to move from brick and mortar to
treating kids in less restrictive settings.
“Let’s treat kids like kids,” Krist said."
READ MORE - WATCHDOG
The Koch Brothers Take Credit for Imposing Economic Hardship
In an email
Koch brothers’ front group, Americans for Prosperity (AFP), sent congratulations to
Republicans and their supporters around the country for helping push sequester cuts
One of, but not limited to, the symptoms of depression is a feeling of hopelessness that
can be exacerbated by unrelenting bad news, and for the past two weeks, Americans were
bombarded with portents of doom and gloom over the Republican sequester. On Sunday, there
was a glimmer of good news in the form of a reminder Willard Romney is not the president,
and although he said it “_kills him_” he cannot “boss people around,” he is still
alive enough to run his lying mouth about the President and how he handled the sequester.
Now that the sequester is signed into law, as bad as it is, Romney preferred Paul Ryan’s
budget that was four times as damaging as the sequester and increased the deficit by at
least $4 trillion. One of Willard’s biggest supporters is cheering the sequester and
claiming credit for its enactment, and looks forward to imposing more economic hardship on
the people and the nation in their never-ending assault on government.
In an email
Koch brothers’ front group, Americans for Prosperity (AFP), sent congratulations to
Republicans and their supporters around the country for helping push sequester cuts AFP
says are “_an IMPORTANT STEP forward for economic growth_.” The email continued,
“_Americans for Prosperity thanks Speaker John Boehner and House Republicans for
standing up to President Obama and making sure the $85 billion in much-needed sequester
spending cuts took effect_,” and it proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Koch
brothers and Republicans own the sequester and are giddy at the prospect of a recession
and killing millions of jobs. One aspect of sequester cuts little mentioned is that the
devastating $85 billion for 2013 is just the beginning of greater domestic spending cuts,
devastating effects on anti-poverty programs, Medicare, and without cessation, the end of
The sequester is a ten year plan that cuts $1.2 trillion across the board, and because
they began in March, $85 billion is about 70% of the next nine years of cuts coming in at
about $123.88 billion every year. It spells the end of recovery because experts estimate
that by the end of 2013, $85 billion in cuts means nearly a million jobs will vanish, and
GDP will fall between .7% and 1.7% in the first year alone. Kochs, AFP, teabaggers, and
Republicans are celebrating austerity that deliberately tanks the economy, creates massive
poverty, and all to avoid closing tax loopholes for the richest people in America.
Republicans claimed 2013 sequester cuts would devastate the economy, and yet they are
celebrating nine more years of 30% higher cuts, and are a reminder of the damage Willard
Romney would have imposed. Romney took time to weigh in on the sequester and accuse the
President of campaigning instead of working with Republicans to avert the cuts they were
destined to enact.
According to Willard, “_The president brings people together, does the deals, does the
trades…the president leads, and I don’t see that kind of leadership happening. He’s
campaigning_.” Romney also suspected President Obama blamed Republicans for rejecting
attempts to avert the sequester because “_there may be more interest in showing pain in
saying, See what the other guys did_?” President Obama did attempt to trade, deal, lead,
and bring Republicans together, but the sequester was the means Republicans used to impose
austerity, and unless Obama agreed to void defense cuts and replace them with more
austerity and domestic cuts, the sequester was going forward as part of Republicans’
four-year war on the economy.
Real economic experts cited ways Republicans are deliberately killing recovery;
self-inflicted austerity, cuts to under-funded social programs, cut Social Security and
Medicare benefits by slashing “entitlements,” and the sequester. Republicans and their
supporters at Americans for Prosperity encouraged their base to campaign to “_keep the
cuts_” so we can “_get our economy moving again_” in spite of overwhelming evidence
that killing a million jobs and slashing domestic spending will cut GDP between .7-1.7% in
the first year of a ten year program. Austerity already cost a reduction in growth in
the fourth quarter, and combined with the Eurozone’s austerity-caused recession
increases the risk to America’s economy because Europe is the nation’s leading trading
partner. Austerity is decimating economies all over the world and all the while,
Republicans, Koch brothers, and teabaggers are celebrating.
READ MORE - POLITICUSUSA
America’s Unsustainable Inequality
In a word, we have witnessed a steady concentration of wealth – income inequality
– in this country that has reached levels no market economy can long endure.
Without all sorts of artificial props – from credit-card debt and no-doc or
"interest-only" loans to dodgy financial assets nobody understands (try wrapping your mind
around a collateralized debt obligation or credit default swap) – is would have become
impossible to camouflage what was (and is) happening.
To see just how unequal the distribution of wealth in the US has become, click here:
Wealth Inequality in America http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPKKQnijnsM
This video, re-posted on Charlie White\'s "Mashable" website
http://mashable.com/2013/03/02/wealth-inequality/ among others, started going viral last
Friday. It's based on a chart http://danariely.com/2010/09/30/wealth-inequality/
developed by a Harvard Business School professor named Michael Norton and Dan Ariely, a
behavioral economist at Duke. If you haven't already seen the video, here's a
sampling: _the top 1% own 40% of the nation's total wealth while the bottom 80% own
Marx famously said that the bourgeoisie unwittingly produces its own gravediggers. A
market economy – capitalism, that is – inexorably gives rise to an elite social class
whose members create an economy that contains the seeds of its own destruction. So said
Marx, the champion of socialism and bête noire of the corporate class.
A recent study from The Stanford Center for Poverty and Inequality
http://www.stanford.edu/group/scspi/cgi-bin/facts.php parallels the one cited
above. The study highlights "twenty facts about US inequality that everyone should
know". In 1965, CEO pay in the United States was 24 times higher than the average pay
for workers. By 1977, it had risen to 35 times. It then doubled to 70 times by 1989
(that is, during the first decade of the Reagan Revolution). During the 1990s, thanks in
no small part to the Republicans' Contract with America, it rose to a peak of nearly 300
times. Today, it stands at roughly 380 times.
Say what you will, Marx had a point. We have to attack the natural tendency of a
capitalist economy to produce the seeds of its own destruction – namely unsustainable
inequality. Only mass protests, a groundswell, on a scale that hasn't happened in this
country since the Vietnam War will make that happen. Or maybe not.
READ MORE - NATION OF CHANGE
Forum on Devastating Effects of Gun Trafficking Crimes
On Tuesday, March 12, 2013, Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland), Scott Rigell
(R-Virginia), and Carolyn Maloney (D-New York) will convene a bipartisan forum
On Tuesday, March 12, 2013, Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland), Scott Rigell
(R-Virginia), and Carolyn Maloney (D-New York) will convene a bipartisan forum to hear
from victims of gun crimes that resulted from “straw purchasing” and other gun
trafficking efforts, as well as law enforcement officials charged with combating these
WHAT: “Victims and First Responders: The Critical Need for Gun Trafficking
WHEN: Tuesday, March 12, 2013, at 2:30 p.m.
WHERE: Room 340, Cannon House Office Building
Shooting in New York, Dec. 24, 2012:
Theodore Scardino, Volunteer Firefighter, West Webster, New York
Shooting in Pennsylvania, Sept. 13, 2012:
Chief Joseph Lawrence, Plymouth, Pennsylvania Police Department
Multiple Gun Trafficking Crimes in California, 2009-2012:
Chief Greg Suhr, San Francisco Police Department
National Law Enforcement and Prosecutor Representatives:
Commissioner Charles Ramsey, Philadelphia Police Department
President, Major Cities Chiefs Association
David LaBahn, President, Association of Prosecuting Attorneys
The hosts of the forum are original co-sponsors of H.R. 452, The Gun Trafficking
Prevention Act of 2013
which would combat the flow of firearms to violent criminals, international drug cartels,
and a host of other dangerous people. Their legislation has been endorsed by law
enforcement officials from across the country.
Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee adopted similar gun trafficking legislation on a
READ MORE - DEMOCRATS OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE
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Obama to name EPA official Gina McCarthy to head agency
The president will nominate Gina McCarthy, who heads the Environmental Protection
Agency's air and radiation office ...
On Monday, President Obama will nominate Gina McCarthy, who heads the Environmental
Protection Agency's air and radiation office, as the agency's next administrator, and MIT
professor Ernest Moniz as energy secretary, according to a White House official.
McCarthy helped usher through many of the EPA's most contentious rules during Obama's
first term, including regulations curbing mercury and soot emissions from power plants.
But she has also cultivated a strong working relationship with members of the business
community, dampening much of the opposition her selection might otherwise have
Moniz, a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who served in the Bill
Clinton administration, lends Obama's Cabinet scientific heft and brings prior Washington
experience. At MIT, he directed the school's Energy Initiative, where he oversaw reports
on almost every aspect of energy.
The White House declined to comment on the matter Sunday night. The official who
confirmed the nominations declined to be identified because they were not yet formally
READ MORE - WASHINGTON POST
Ruth Bader Ginsburg says she’s got at least two years left
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg tells the New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin that
she's likely to stay on the court for at least another two years, health permitting.
"It's not this year. You can never tell when you're my age," Ginsburg said. "But, as
long as I think I have the candlepower, I will do it. And I figure next year for certain.
After that, who knows?"
Ginsburg is the Court's oldest member, at 79 years old, and is in her 20th year on the
As a member of the court's liberal wing, she would ensure that President Obama gets to
pick her replacement if she retired sometime in the next four years -- something that
would hearten liberals.
READ MORE - WASHINGTON POST
Florida's concentration camp for little boys
Dark secrets unearthed in KKK county ... Excavators discover 50 bodies buried in the
grounds of a boys borstal, which was only shut in 2010
For years, almost no one at the Dozier School even knew about the burial ground in a
clearing in the woods on the edge of campus. It was forbidden territory. The soil here,
churned in places by tiny ants, holds more than the remains of little boys. Only now is it
starting to give up its dark secrets: horror stories of state-sanctioned barbarism,
including flogging, sexual assault and, possibly, murder.
That the Arthur G Dozier School - a borstal for delinquent boys founded in 1900 - was
not a gentle place was well-established. Boys as young as six were chained to walls,
lashings with a leather strap were frequent and, in the early decades, children endured
enforced labour, making bricks and working printing presses. When it was closed in 2011,
it had already been the subject of separate federal and state investigations.
But, as suspicions deepen about how the boys in the burial ground died, pressure is
growing again on the state to shine new light into the darkest days of the school in
Marianna, a Florida Panhandle town that once was a bastion of the KKK and the site of the
1934 lynching of Claude Neal. The pressure is coming from some of the schools survivors,
from relatives of boys who died here, and from Floridas top US Senator, Bill Nelson.
"Where there is smoke, there is fire," Senator Nelson declared last month, calling on
the state to delay plans to sell off the 1,400 acres occupied by the old school so that a
team of forensic anthropologists from the University of South Florida can complete a
project begun last year to comb the campus for more graves. He wants any bodies found
exhumed, identified and returned to the families they came from.
So far, the team, led by Erin Kimmerle, has focused its work around the once-secret
cemetery. It knows that as many as 98 boys died at the school between 1914 and 1973. Since
starting last year, Professor Kimmerle has found 19 previously undiscovered graves in
addition to the 31 marked by steel-pipe crosses. That means 50 graves so far. Forty-eight
have yet to be located, assuming graves were dug for each body.
"Its more than we anticipated," she says. "Our purpose is to explain who these children
were, what happened to them and to understand what the story is that should be told." The
official stance - that all the children died from accidents, such as fires and drownings,
or natural causes - does not impress her. She cites the case of one child, Billy Jackson,
whose cause of death was listed as kidney failure. There is a record of his being beaten
two weeks earlier and admitted to hospital. "Common sense", she asserts, says he died from
The place of Dozier in Floridas history is already set and its a shameful one. That is
thanks in part to a group of Dozier survivors who call themselves the "White House Boys"
because that was the colour of the small building where the floggings used to take place.
A decade ago, they began finding one another by email and social networks and sharing
their painful memories. In a book that Roger Dean Kiser eventually wrote about his time at
the school - The White House Boys: an American Tragedy - he called it a "concentration
camp for little boys".
Robert Straley, who has built a web site called whitehouseboys.com, was 13 when he was
remanded there. Even now, he recalls the wardens with fear, including the one-armed Troy
Tidwell, who, he says, beat him on his first day. "They were just totally out of control
up there," he said. "The ones that got the most beating were the 11-year-olds. They liked
to beat the little ones because they didnt have to be afraid of them coming back after
them with a brick in the hands. The older the boys, the less beatings they got."
In the town of Marianna, conversations about the school are difficult. Calvin Creamer,
62, knew the school cobbler who made boots with markings in the heels so they could track
the boys down if they ran away - and the leather straps for the floggings. "They were mean
people to start with," he said of the men who dispensed the discipline. "Back then, it was
torture for those boys. And the police didnt care either. They would strip them down and
strap them to 50-gallon drums bear naked, and then theyd beat them."
READ MORE - THE INDEPENDENT UK
Bob Woodward and the Rules of Washington Morality
Why does Bob Woodward get to lie--twice!--and still be Bob Woodward?
Woodwardgate got me reflecting on the question of Washington morality. Now yes, that's
an oxymoron if ever there was one. But surely there is some set (however bizarre) of
impulses and rules that lets Bob Woodward say what he said, and Politico promote it as if
it were a feud between two soap opera stars, with both walking away essentially unharmed,
as they likely will (certainly in Politico's case; Woodward's black eye will need a little
time to heal). More important than that, there must be a set of impulses and rules that
observes what has been going on in this town for the last four years, with Republicans
being the most obstructionist opposition in the country's modern history, and yet somehow
contrives to blame Barack Obama for the fact that our government can't function. I have
divined three such rules that seem to apply to the present case and to most of the big
dilemmas the capital has confronted in recent times.
Rule One: When information is being injected into the discourse, the content of the
information is far less important than the stature of and/or establishment's feeling about
the person injecting the information. You could be as prescient as old Tiresias bumping
his way around Thebes, but if the Washington bigwigs have never heard of you or haven't
already given you their seal of approval, you're wasting your time. However, if you
already possess said seal of approval, you can say pretty much anything, and you will be
Think of Colin Powell at the U.N. That was one howler after another. Now granted it was
hard to know that in real time. But what it wasn't hard to know at that point in the
spring of 2003 was that the neoconservatives then peopling the Bush administration had
been thirsting for war against Saddam since 1991, and anyone who knew that (as all of
Washington should have) would have taken the general's presentation with several grains of
salt. Of course, the opposite happened. Powell was widely respected, and, well, it seemed
impressive, with all those photos of all those trucks surely doing clandestine, trucky
As for the obverse, my liberal allies, this explains why information that seems so
obvious to us never gets through. Yes, when the private market isn't pumping enough money
into the economy, that's when the public sector should be doing it--it's exactly the wrong
time to tighten the belt. This is Keynes 101. A bushelful of Nobel laureates have been
running around saying this since 2008, most recently the great Robert Solow
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/28/opinion/our-debt-ourselves.html?_r=0 in the _Times_ the
But Solow isn't a Washington animal. Ditto Paul Krugman. Why should we believe him,
Washington sniffs? Not one of us. Besides he's so snooty, and so ... so negative. Now Joe
Scarborough! There's a man to trust. Talks sense, not all this Princeton mumbo-jumbo.
Okay, he's not an economist, but what do those fancy-pants economists know anyway?
There are two types of people in this realm--those who yearn above all else to win the
establishment's seal of approval, and those who couldn't give a shit. Those who yearn
quickly learn to say the right things: that entitlements are our nation's crushing
problem, that we simply must attack the deficit, that both sides are equally to blame. If
you are of moderately above-average intelligence, you need attend only about 3.2
Washington cocktail parties to figure out that these are the lines to parrot for purposes
READ MORE - THE DAILY BEAST
Switzerland Clamps Down Hard On Executive Pay
Should U.S. Follow Suit? Yesterday, voters in Switzerland overwhelmingly approved new
measures http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-21647937 to clamp down on executive pay.
Under the approved referendum -- which means that the new provisions will be added to
the Swiss constitution http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-21647937 -- shareholders
will have the ability to veto executive pay packages, so-called "golden parachutes" will
be outlawed, and executives who defy the rules could see jail time. As the Wall Street
Journal's Andrew Peaple wrote, "Swiss voters' anger is understandable. Like other
countries, it has seen executive pay rise out of all proportion over the past decade":
Switzerland has the highest remuneration per board member in Europe, according to
Deloitte. Pharmaceutical company NOVARTIS'S RECENT OFFER OF A SIX-YEAR $76 MILLION GOLDEN
PARACHUTE TO OUTGOING CHAIRMAN DANIEL VASELLA IS THE LATEST EXAMPLE OF SEEMINGLY EGREGIOUS
REWARDS. UBS CHAIRMAN AXEL WEBER WAS PAID $5.3 MILLION WHEN HE JOINED THE BANK THIS YEAR.
Compared with Swiss average wage of $73,500, such payments look out of whack.
The European Union has also approved new restrictions
on bonuses at large financial firms.
READ MORE - THINK PROGRESS
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