NEWS ARCHIVES [March 2014]
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Boston Red Sox won the 2013 World Series Championship - The game was not only magical, it was special. This was the first World Series the Sox won at home with all their fans in attendance in 96 years. We have play-by-play photos in our Photo Gallery.
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The XXII Olympics Winter Games - 2014 -Sochi, Russia
[Last Updated Thursday February 13, 2014]
U.S. Sweeps Olympics Medals in Freestyle Skiing Competition
Men's ski slopestyle gold medal winner Joss Christensen of the United States, center, celebrates on the podium with his teammates Gus Kenworthy, left, silver, and Nicholas Goepper, bronze, right, during a flower ceremony at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 13, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.
86th Academy Awards - 2014 Oscar Night - Hollywood, CA
Photo Credit: Top: Monica Almeida/The New York Times; bottom Jason Merritt/Getty Images; right Mike Blake/Reuters
No News on Missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 - Flight 370
LATEST UPDATES: Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370
UPDATES: Missing Malaysia Flight - Russia-Crimea Crisis
WATCH MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Chris Christie's Bridge Gate
Tea Party Rep. Paul Ryan Visits the Inner-City: BY COMICS
UPDATE_Russian Provocation in Ukraine - Missing Flight 370
Healthcare.gov Comic - GOP's Trouble Minorities in Pictures
Russia Annexed Crimea - Watch Vladimir Putin's Speech
Missing Malaysia Flight Update
Flight 370 Vanished from the Sky
Crisis in Crimea - US Takes Sanctions against Russia
College Board Announced Major Changes in SAT
US Threatens Isolation & Sanction against Russia
The 2014 Oscar Awards Night - The 86th Academy Awards
Arizona Gov. Vetoed Anti-Gay/ Legal Discrimination Bill
Russian Troops Invaded Ukraine
BREAKING NEWS: FL Jury: Mistrial on 1st. Degree Murder
No Government Shutdown - Boehner Said
Winter Olympics 2014 from Sochi, Russia - Also in The News
Breaking News: David Wildstein Told Reporters He Has
Evidence of Christie's Knowledge & Connection to Bridgegate
NY City Mayor de Blasio Reached Deal to Scrap Stop-&-Frisk
Iran Nuclear Deal Moves Forward
*2013 In Review*
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March 30, 2014
UPDATE ON MISSING MALAYSIA AIRLINES FLIGHT MH-370 - 5:00 pm
The World Lost a Jumbo Jet with 239 Passengers and Crew
Right under the Noses of Modern Space Satellites - Google Map Sonar Systems and Military Radar
It's been 24 days since the airliner seemingly vanished from the sky over the Indian Ocean en route to China with 227 passengers aboard and 12 crew members on May 8, 2014. On March 23, more than 14 days following the disappearance of the Aircraft the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak, declared the airplane "lost in the Indian Ocean" based he said on new analysis of data from an automated satellite system on the plane, performed by Inmarsat and the British national aviation safety agency. As of today, updates from Malaysian authorities as well as search and rescue teams from more than 26 countries continue to consist of false leads depending largely on sighting of debris in the search areas over the Indian Ocean. But so far, those sightings have turned out to be not related to the missing jet liner. The families of those missing remain in shock and disbelief, and frustration has boiled over. Some have demanded meetings with authorities whom they believe have been keeping them prisoners in hotel rooms and giving them misguided information. Malaysian Airlines and the Malaysian government have promised to continue the search until they find answers as to what happened to Flight 370 and the fate of its passengers and crew.
March 23, 2014
[UPDATE ON MISSING MALAYSIA AIRLINES FLIGHT MH-370 - 6:30 PM
Day 18: MALAYSIAN PRIME MINISTER ANNOUNCED EARLY THIS MORNING THAT HIS GOVERNMENT IN CONSULTATION WITH AVIATION DATA ANALYSTS DECLARES FLIGHT 370 "LOST DEEP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE INDIAN OCEAN"
File Photo_Distraught Families of Missing Malaysia Fight 370 Passengers & Crew
In an unscheduled and surprise early press conference this morning, the prime minister of Malaysia announced in Kuala Lumpur that there was no longer any doubt that the missing Malaysian Airlines jetliner, Flight 370, was "lost in the Indian Ocean." Prime Minister Najib Razak said that this conclusion was reached based on new analysis of data from an automated satellite system on the plane, performed by Inmarsat and the British national aviation safety agency. The analysis narrowed down the possible paths the Boeing 777 aircraft could have taken as it kept flying for hours after contact with ground controllers was lost on March 8, and it ruled out that the plane could have gone anywhere but the remote waters southwest of Australia, where there is no place the plane could have landed safely.“It is therefore with deep sadness and regret that I must inform you that, according to this new data, flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean,” Mr. Razak said.
RUSSIA KICKED OUT THE G8 BY EUROPEAN UNION AND NATO ALLIES FOR ANNEXING CRIMEA IN THE EAST UKRAINE REGION - THE NEW YORK TIMES REPORTED TODAY
SEE PREVIOUS REPORTS BELOW
FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES: President Obama and the leaders of the biggest Western economies agreed on Monday to exclude President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia from the Group of 8, suspending his government’s 15-year participation in the diplomatic forum and further isolating his country.In a joint statement after a two-hour, closed-door meeting of the four largest economies in Europe, along with Japan and Canada, the leaders of the seven nations announced that a summit meeting planned for Sochi, Russia, in June will now be held in Brussels — without Russia’s participation.“This group came together because of shared beliefs and shared responsibilities. Russia’s actions in recent weeks are not consistent with them,” the statement said. “Under these circumstances, we will not participate in the planned Sochi Summit. We will suspend our participation in the G-8 until Russia changes course.
March 22, 2014
[UPDATE ON MALAYSIA AIRLINES FLIGHT 370 - 11:55 AM
DAY 14: FLIGHT 370 IS STILL MISSING OVER THE INDIAN OCEAN BETWEEN MORE THAN 100 SQUARE MILES OF LAND AND WATER - REPORTS YESTERDAY THAT THE AUSTRALIANS HAVE PICKED UP SATELLITE IMAGES OF 2 LARGE OBJECTS HAVE NOT YIELDED ANY RESULTS IN THE SEARCH FOR THE 239 PASSENGERS AND CREW AIRCRAFT. EARLY TODAY - DURING A BRIEFING BY MALAYSIAN OFFICIALS A NOTE WAS HANDED TO THE SPOKESMAN ON CAMERA ANNOUNCING THAT THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT'S SATELLITES HAVE LOCATED 2 LARGE OBJECTS OFF THE COAST OF AUSTRALIA - SPECULATIONS ARE THAT THESE NEWLY SPOTTED OBJECTS MIGHT BE SAME AS THOSE THAT WERE PICKED UP EARLIER BY THE AUSTRALIANS. THE FRUSTRATION OF WAITING FAMILY MEMBERS HAS REACHED A BREAKING POINT WHEN THE CONFRONTED MALAYSIAN AUTHORITIES THIS WEEK AND ONE MOTHER WAS TAKEN AWAY BY POLICE WHILE SHE CREAMED FOR HER SON. GROUPS OF WAITING FAMILY MEMBERS MARCHED ON THE STREET -WHILE OTHERS VOICED THEIR FRUSTRATION TO OFFICIALS DURING DAILY MEETINGS AND PRESS BRIEFINGS. DOZENS OF SHIPS AND AIRPLANES FROM 26 COUNTRIES ARE STILL INVOLVED IN THE SEARCH AND THE CHINESE ARE PLANNING TO DEPLOY 3 MORE SHIPS AND 2 MORE AIRCRAFTS.
UPDATE ON RUSSIA'S ANNEXATION OF CRIMEA AND THE TURMOIL IN UKRAINE
NEARLY A WEEK AFTER A REFERENDUM THAT PRECIPITATED THE ANNEXATION OF CRIMEA BY RUSSIA - RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN CONTINUED TO DEFY SANCTIONS BY THE UNITED STATES AND NATO COUNTRIES AND MAINTAIN A COLD WAR POSTURE. PRESIDENT OBAMA AND HIS EUROPEAN COUNTERPARTS HAVE INCREASED TRAVEL AND FINANCIAL RESTRICTIONS AGAINST DOZENS OF RUSSIAN OFFICIALS AND RUSSIAN-BACKED UKRAINIAN OFFICIALS AND AT LEAST ONE RUSSIAN BANK. THE U.S. AND NATO HAVE PLEDGED BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN ECONOMIC AID TO UKRAINE IN THE FORM OF LOAN GUARANTEES - MILITARY INTERVENTION BY THE U.S. AND EUROPEAN ALLIES IS NOT AN OPTION.
WATCH MSNBC RACHEL MADDOW'S COVERAGE OF THE NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR
CHRIS CHRISTIE'S WASHINGTON BRIDGE TRAFFIC JAM GATE
Rachel Maddow: Chris Christie's Office Knew From The Start Bridge Lane Closures Were Harmful
MSNBC host Rachel Maddow determined on Friday that emails released on Friday detailing the plan to close several lanes on the George Washington Bridge in September 2013 show the woman now serving as N...
Press reports from New Jersey local journalists and the New York Times suggest that the origin of the “Traffic Study” cover-up in the New Jersey Governor Chris Christie Washington Bridge traffic jam scandal came from one of the governor’s bodies, Port Authority Police officer Nunziato and Port Authority appointee David Wildstein. Way back on December 4, 2013, Officer Nunziato claimed that he had suggested the traffic study cover story to David Wildstein to justify the 4-day traffic jam at the George Washing Bridge traffic jam scheme in Fort Lee scandal at a hearing before the New Jersey Senate Assembly.
Now, Nunziato's lawyer claimed his client only made that claim to appease Wildstein and others in Christie's inner circle. The New York Times has reported that “Paul Nunziato had nothing to do with nor knowledge of the planning, implementation or execution” of the closing of the access lanes,” based on a statement made by Nunziato’s attorney, Charles J. Sciarra, in response to questions from the newspaper about his client’s role and his public comments. “Mr. Nunziato first learned that there was an obvious improper motive regarding this issue” the statement further read. That statement was made when the committee released documents suggesting the action may have been politically motivated.
In the four-page statement, Mr. Sciarra said his client had talked to Mr. Wildstein in the middle of 2012 about an unrelated traffic problem near the Fort Lee access lanes at that time. That problem arose after tolls were raised, when car-pooling motorists were stopping to pick up passengers to go through a discounted high-occupancy-vehicle lane, he said, citing published reports about the practice at the time. In the written statement, Mr. Sciarra said Mr. Nunziato’s comments grew out of loyalty to his political allies and that he believed that the lane closings stemmed from the dispute between the Port Authority’s New York and New Jersey factions. “My client was trying to be supportive of people who were supportive of his union; he never intended to mislead,” Mr. Sciarra also said in a brief interview.
In a subsequent email, Mr. Sciarra said that Mr. Nunziato specifically told Mr. Baroni, before his appearance at the legislative committee, that the only suggestion Mr. Nunziato had ever made to Mr. Wildstein about the access lanes concerned those issues in 2012.
PAUL RYAN ON ECONOMIC INEQUALITY AND THE POOR
TEA PARTY HOUSE REPRESENTATIVE BUDGET CHAIRMAN & FORMER 201 GOP &
MITT ROMNEY'S VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE
PAUL RYAN VISITS THE INNER CITY
BY COMICS - REPUBLISHED BY DAILY KOS
fROM THE DAILY KOS: As if the people who are victims of economic inequality as a form of racial inequality are responsible for that racial and economic inequality. This is a country where a study has found that it's easier for a white felon than for a black non-felon to get a job. But please, Rep. Ryan, as part of your push to slash anti-poverty programs, do tell me about how the "real culture problem" is that "generations of men" in the inner city don't "value the culture of work."
March 20, 2014 [Update] 5:35 PM
Russian Troops Marched Closer to the Western Borders of the Ukraine Following Putin's Annexation of Crimea Yesterday & Putin's Firing Speech in the Red Square - Sanction War Between the United States and NATO Allies against Russia Escalated
Developments at a glance
- Armed troops reported to be Russian sealed off Ukrainian border.
- Russian troops have been reported in the Ukraine.
- Ukraine called up troops as Russian troops surround Crimea.
Malaysian Flight MH370 Still Missing - Australian Satellite Spotted 2 Large Objects Believed to Have Come from the Aircraft
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: Large objects were seen by satellite floating in the Indian Ocean, 1,500 miles southwest of Perth. Malaysian officials called it a "credible lead.' But there have been many false leads in the hunt for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
Healthcaregov Comic bis Daily Kos: BY COMICS
CPAC 2014 Panel [Annual Conservative Convention]
Hall & Panel for Minority Outreach - Pictures Do Speak Louder than Word
This Picture Screamed Words
"GOP's Problem with Minorities" in a Shot That Speaks a Thousand Words
via Daily Kos: Attribution_John Hudak/Brook via #VPAC2011ng
March 19, 2014 [Update: 9:00]
Russian President Vladimir Putin Annexed Crimea on the Eastern Border of the Ukraine - 1 Ukrainian Soldier Shot & Killed by Russian Troops
Watch Putin's Defiant Speech to Thousands of Celebrating Russian in the Red S Today
Full video: Putin's address on Crimea joining Russia, signing ceremony
President Vladimir Putin has, in the last hour, signed a treaty to incorporate Crimea into Russia.Putin signed the law after a speech to Russia's parliament, in which he hit back at his critics....
Day 12 of Missing Boeing 777 - Malaysia Airlines flight 370 en Route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing
Media Continue to Speculate - Aviation Specialists Hypothesize - Terrorism Experts Theorize - World Government at a Loss
March 18, 2014
What Happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370?
The Boeing 777 Vanished Out Thin Air 10 Days Ago
& the World Is Still Searching for the Aircraft
with 227 Passengers & 12 Crew Members Aboard
On Saturday March 8, 10 days ago today, Reuters reported that Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, China vanished without a trace between sky, land, and water. Since then there have been no answers but questions, false leads, and speculations as to the sophisticated Boeing 777 with 239 people on board might be. The questions are many: what happened to the plane? How could a jet that size equipped with the most advanced detection and transmitter systems be missing for this length of time in the face of a world covered with satellite systems from East to West? Did the jet crash, and if so why is it that dozens of search and rescue helicopters, battle ships, and fighter jets, including two guided-missile destroyers from the United States, have been unable to find any debris or parts from the plane? If the jet descended in an emergency landing, are the passengers alive, and where might they be?
Families of Missing Flight 370 Passengers
On the early morning of March 8, Flight 370 flew over the Gulf of Thailand between northern Malaysia and southern Vietnam, lost or suspended all communication links, and appeared to have changed direction and flew across the Malay Peninsula and out over the Strait of Malacca. Since then, 26 nations, including the United States military have been involved in a search expanded to cover 11 countries and deep ocean waters, marking a desperate and extensive international effort to locate the missing airplane. As of today, the missing airplane represents the biggest mystery known to men. Malaysian investigators, aided by their international counterparts have shown nothing but frustration in their regular press conferences, while 500 or so family members of
the missing passengers and crew members wait in a hotel in the Malaysian capital for any news. Thus far, however, the news have all been contradictory and the investigation appears to rely on nothing more than a process of elimination of false leads and theories, all known aviation possibilities having been exhausted and nearly eliminated.
There have been few mysteries of this sort involving airplanes, but never a jet of this size. In 1937, Amelia Mary Earhart’s plane disappeared over the Pacific Ocean near Howland Island, while flying solo around the globe in a Purdue-funded Lockheed Model 10 Electra. In 1945, 19 United States Navy planes disappeared while flying over the area known as the Bermuda Triangle located between the island of Bermuda, Puerto Rico, and Miami. A search and rescue plane that was deployed by the Navy to locate the missing airplanes also went missing. Those planes were never found.
Data from the plane are sketchy, but authorities have reported that the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System, was shut off before it disappeared. The last transmission from that system was received by air traffic controllers early in the flight, at 1:07 a.m. But no one knows for sure when the system was shut down, as the next transmission wasn't due until 1:37 AM, 30 minutes later. However, someone in the cockpit, believed to be the co-pilot, made a last verbal communication with air traffic controllers at 1:19 AM before the Aircraft vanished from radar and ceased to send system communication and signal, with the voice saying, "All right, good night." At 1:21 AM, the airplane’s transponder was switched off and all civilian radar lost contact with the plane altogether at 1:30 AM. Nonetheless, at 2:15 AM, Military radar detected the plane off Malaysia's west coast, hundreds of miles off course. This was the last radar detection recorded from the Aircraft. Subsequently, more than seven hours after takeoff, a satellite made the last electronic connection, known as a "handshake," with the plane at 8:11 AM. Yesterday, Pakistan said that the plane never showed up on its civilian radars and would have been treated as a threat if it had. The Times of India reported that India's military also said there was no way the plane could have
Search & Rescue Photo_fijone.tv
According to CNN, Malaysia's New Straits Times reported today that the flight dropped to 5,000 feet after turning back from its Kuala Lumpur-Beijing route on March 8 and quoted unnamed officials as saying "it's possible that the aircraft had hugged the terrain in some areas that are mountainous to avoid radar detection." New Straits Times Editor Farrah Naz Karim told CNN's "New Day" that the newspaper spoke to sources close to the investigation and asked how flying at that altitude could be done. She added that this is one aspect that investigators could be looking into but it's all speculation at this point. “A signaling system was disabled on the missing Malaysia Airlines jet before a pilot spoke to air traffic control without mentioning any trouble,” a senior Malaysian official said yesterday.
The fate of the Malaysia Flight 370 and its 239 passengers and crew members remains embedded in mystery. The question as to whether or not the airplane and its passengers may have been the victims of terrorism or high jacking is being explored. As of now, a statement by the Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Razak, relative to the search for the missing jet tells the whole story; He acknowledged that data from military radar and satellite raised the possibility that “the plane could have ended up somewhere in Indonesia, the southern Indian Ocean or along a vast arc of territory from northern Laos across western China to Central Asia.” “It’s something of the scope I’ve never seen before,” said Cmdr. William Marks, the spokesman for the United States Navy Seventh Fleet, which joined the search. In a telephone interview, he added: “Essentially, it’s like looking for a person somewhere between New York and California. It’s that big.”
Crisis in Crimea Took a New Turn
U.S. Imposed Sanctions on 11 Prominent Russian and Ukrainian Nationals & Officials
European Officials Approved their Own Set of Sanctions against 21 Russians & Ukrainians
Obama: U.S. Expanding Scope of Russian Sanctions
March 17 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama speaks at a White House press conference announcing sanction on Russian government officials in response to the nation's actions in Crimea.
Localized Russian authorities in Crimea claimed the Moscow-backed referendum in Crimea on Sunday to break off from Ukraine and rejoin Russia was favored by a 97 percent vote. Sunday, in Crimea, as helicopters dropped Russian troops just outside the Crimean peninsula between the Russian and the Ukrainian borders and seize a natural gas terminal, tensions grew on the eve of the referendum for Crimea to secede from Ukraine and rejoin Russia.
The newly-formed Crimean government declared itself independent in a step clearly intended to move the country toward annexation from Russia. The confrontation started when Russia sent troops into the Ukrainian province following the ouster of the Russian-supported former Ukraine President Yanukovych’s in February after his troops opened fire and killed 80 demonstrators who gathered in support of joining the NATO alliance.
According to press reports, the President told Putin in a telephone call on Sunday that the referendum “violates the Ukrainian Constitution and occurred under duress of Russian military intervention” and “would never be recognized by the United States and the international community.” Meanwhile, the President continues to indicate that “there remains a clear path for resolving this crisis diplomatically.”
Today, President Obama signed an executive order freezing the assets and banning visas for Russians deemed to be responsible for the seizing of Crimea or otherwise interfering in Ukrainian sovereignty. In a press conference today, President Obama announced sanctions against Russian officials. In coordination with the European Union, the United States has placed sanctions against Vladislav Surkov, one of President Vladimir V. Putin’s most influential advisers. According to reports by the New York Times, the President has set in place a new set of sanctions that target a limited number of Russian nationals and officials. Others facing U.S. sancions Sergei Glazyev, Vladimir Putin’s economist and Ukraine advisor, Matviyenko, chairman of the Federation Council_ the upper house of Parliament, and Deputy Prime Minister, Dmitry Rogozin. Many others have been placed on a the list of sanctions, including Leonid Slutsky and Yelena Mizulina two members of the State Duma_ the lower house of Parliament, and Andrey Klishas, a member of the Federation Council who wrote a bill to seize Western interest assets in retaliation for any sanctions imposed on Russia.
In addition, the White House also sanctioned two officials supported by the Russians; those individuals, Sergei Aksyonoy_the newly named prime minister, and Vladimir Konstantinov_the newly declared speaker of Parliament. Both are under sanctions for supporting the Russian power and land grab in Crimea. Yanukovych, the pro-Russian Ukrainian president deposed last month is also under sanctions by the United States, along with Viktor Medvedchuk, the head of a pro-Russian civil society group. No sanctions have been placed on Mr. Putin himself. However, the White House officials revealed in a tele-conference today that the president may go to a broader range of sanctions that the Russian had not faced since the Cold War. Currently, a number of large American corporations are significantly invested in the Russian market, including ExxonMobil, Boeing, Ford and PepsiCo. The United States is not engaged in any large trade with Russia, but American businesses are nervous about the rapidly escalating conflict.
The president has dispatched Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to Eastern Europe to meet with leaders of Poland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, all NATO allies that feel especially nervous about Russia’s actions in the Ukraine. The president is scheduled to travel to Europe next week on a previously planned trip, which now may be centered around the recent events on the Russian border.
March 5, 2014
College Board President David Coleman Announced
Major Changes in the SAT Test
The New York Times broke the news today that College Board President David Coleman announced landmark changes in the SAT test and the way students will take test, complete with support program to help low-income students by waiting the entrance exam fee. The paper reported Mr. Coleman saying both the SAT and the ACT “have become disconnected from the work of our high schools.”
In addition to the fee waiver, which will help low-income student with their college applications, the College Board, in partnership with Khan Academy, will offer free online practice problems from old tests and instructional videos showing how to solve them before the exam time.
- The SAT’s rarefied vocabulary words will be replaced by words that are common in college courses, such as “empirical” and “synthesis.”
- The math questions, now scattered widely across many topics, will focus more narrowly on linear equations, functions and proportional thinking.
- The use of a calculator will no longer be allowed on some of the math sections. The new exam will be available on paper and computer, and the scoring will revert to the old 1600 scale, with a top score of 800 on math and what will now be called “Evidence-Based Reading and Writing.” The optional essay will have a separate score.
The new SAT will be introduced in the spring of 2016. Criticisms of the test have mounted in recent years, causing some colleges to create a "test optional" category for entering freshmen with the options to only submit high school transcripts and even write a paper.
In his announcement, Mr. Coleman said, " for many students the tests are mysterious and “filled with unproductive anxiety.” Nor, he acknowledged, do they inspire much respect from classroom teachers: only 20 percent, he said, see the college-admissions tests as a fair measure of the work their students have done in school.There have been intense complaints among parents , students, and educators that the test causes an ineffective and inappropriately high level of coaching and tutoring, which placed low-income students at a distinct disadvantage. Typically, students spent the better part of their junior year prepping for the test in what some have referred to as a test-prep marathon.
“It is time for the College Board to say in a clearer voice that the culture and practice of costly test preparation that has arisen around admissions exams drives the perception of inequality and injustice in our country,” he said in a speech Wednesday in which he announced the changes. “It may not be our fault, but it is our problem.”
Some of the changes will make the new SAT more like the ACT, which for the last two years has outpaced the SAT in test-takers and is increasingly being adopted as a public high school test by state education officials. Thirteen states use it that way now and three more are planning to do so. The ACT has no guessing penalty, and its essay is optional. It also includes a science section, and while the SAT is not adding one, the redesigned reading test will include a science passage. According to Mr. Coleman, the three-hour exam — 3 hours and 50 minutes with the essay — had been redesigned with an eye to reinforce the skills and evidence-based thinking students should be learning in high school, and move away from a need for test-taking tricks and strategies. Sometimes, students will be asked not just to select the right answer, but to justify it by choosing the quote from a text that provides the best supporting evidence for their answer.
Students now write about their experiences and opinions, with no penalty for incorrect assertions, even egregiously wrong ones. Going forward, though, students will get a source document and be asked to analyze it for its use of evidence, reasoning and persuasive or stylistic technique. The text will be different on each exam, but the essay task will remain constant. The required essay never caught on with most college admissions officers. Few figure the score into the admission decision. And many used the essay only occasionally, as a raw writing sample to help detect how much parents, consultants and counselors had edited and polished the essay submitted with the application.
Starting in the spring of 2016, some of the changes to the SAT will include:
• Instead of arcane “SAT words” (“depreciatory,” “membranous”), the vocabulary words on the new exam will be ones commonly used in college courses, such as “synthesis” and “empirical.”
• The essay, required since 2005, will become optional. Those who choose to write an essay will be asked to read a passage and analyze how its author used evidence, reasoning and stylistic elements to build an argument.
• The guessing penalty, in which points are deducted for incorrect answers, will be eliminated.
• The overall scoring will return to the old 1600 scales, based on a top score of 800 in reading and math. The essay will have a separate score.
• Math questions will focus on three areas: linear equations; complex equations or functions; and ratios, percentages and proportional reasoning. Calculators will be permitted on only part of the math section.
• Every exam will include, in the reading and writing section, source documents from a broad range of disciplines, including science and social studies, and on some questions, students will be asked to select the quote from the text that supports the answer they have chosen.
• Every exam will include a reading passage from either one of the nation’s “founding documents,” such as the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, or from one of the important discussions of such texts, such as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”
March 4, 2014
Vladimir Putin's Russia - US Secretary John Kerry Spoke Threatened Isolation
and Other Tough Measures against Russia
by Western Allies and the United States at Press Conference form Ukraine
After Visiting Memorial of The 80 Murdered Protesters
Putin: No Russian Soldiers in Ukraine - Even Though They Are Crawling Around
US Secretary John Kerry is currently giving a press conference in the Ukraine threatening the Soviet Union with sanctions and isolation if President Vladimir Putin does not remove his troops from the Ukraine. Kerry's press conference came after he visited a memorial set up for the 80 people who were killed during the protest that dislodged the Russian-aligned former president of the Ukraine. Putin remains defiant, but denied the unidentified troops are from Russia. This news is fluid and developing.
Read more of this news below and how it all started a week ago.
March 3, 2014
The 2014 Oscar Awards Night Hosted Sunday March 2 Hosted
by Ellen Degeneres with All the Bliss & Glitters
& The Winners Are:
"2 Years A Slave" for Best Picture
"Gravity" Swept The Technical Categories
To Win Seven Awards
2 Years A Slave’ won the best picture honor at the 86th Academy Awards ceremony. Matthew McConaughey and Cate Blanchett took home the best acting Oscars. The film ‘Gravity’ earned seven awards, including the best director honor for Alfonso Cuarón.
As the New York Time put it in their corage, diversity dominated the 86th Academy Awards, beginning with Nyong’o; there was also the Mexican-born Alfonso Cuarón, the first Latino director to win; Steve McQueen, the first black man to win for best picture with “12 Years a Slave”; Robert Lopez, the first Filipino-American, now an EGOT winner, with his Oscar for “Let It Go” from “Frozen”; and probably a lot of celebrating in Australia, as Cate Blanchett, best actress, called out talented people there. With her wins for costumes and production design in “The Great Gatsby,” her countrywoman Catherine Martin became Australia’s biggest Oscar winner.
The tightest race was in the original screenplay, and there the prize went to Spike Jonze over David O. Russell. Russell was picked to win an award for "American Husler." which won 10 nominations. Mr. Russell was considered “due” for an Oscar, but voters chose “Her.”
The Times pointed out how the 86th Academy Award appeared to have consciously made room to "acknowledge" and send a message on gay right, mental illness, the African-American experience, and girl-power.
Oscar Fashion & Red Carpet Glitters
Left: Mike Blake/Reuters; top: Monica Almeida - Michael Buckner/Getty Images
Kevork Djansezian Photo Credit: Left: Mike Blake/Reuters; top: Monica Almeida/The New York Time: Michael Buckner/Getty Images
March 2, 2014
Republican Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona Vetoed Anti-Gay [Nice Shirt - Nice Shoes - No Service Bill]
Effectively Blocking A Legal License for Anyone in AZ
To Discriminate in Business on The Basis of Religious Beliefs
On Wednesday February 26, 2014, Despite Governor Brewer's insistence that public opinion and vocal opposition from all sectors of the country played no role in her decision, following a week of outcry and threats of boycotts by major corporations and businesses from airliners to technology companies, to sports franchises, Hollywood heavy weighs, the US Chamber of Commerce, and soft drink giants, Republican Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a bill that would have given business owners the right to refuse service to gay men, lesbians and other people on religious grounds. This save-face action was brought only when the media in unison shone a bight spotlight on the Arizona Religious Freedom bill, also known as the discrimination, a.k.a. the nice shirt – nice shoes, no service bill. The bill would have allowed anyone from hotel and grocery clerks to taxi drivers to refuse service to, for examples, unmarried mothers, people who drinks or smoke, a Muslim taxi driver could refuse to pick up a woman traveling alone. Overall, the potential for discrimination was endless under the broad provisions of this bill.
At the end, it was clear that Governor Brewer who claimed neither protests nor outrage would influence her decision to sign or veto the bill, ultimately vetoed the bill amid growing pressure and a real possible for crippling economic loss to her state. Not only was Governor Brewer under pressure from businesses and outside groups, the pressure on her to veto the bill also came from Arizona business leaders, who said the bill would be a financial disaster for the state and would harm
its reputation, as well as prominent members of the Republican establishment, including Arizona Senator John McCain, former 2012 GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott. One thing is certain: everyone agreed that the measure would have allowed people to use religion as a “fig leaf” for widespread discrimination and prejudice.
The bill was inspired by legislation passed or pending in legislatures in other states, and actual incidents in which florists, photographers and bakers were sued for refusing to cater to same-sex couples. But the Arizona bill contained expansions that would have allowed much broader religious exemptions by business owners. Supporters of the bill said it was needed to allow people to live and work by their religious beliefs. “This bill is not about allowing discrimination,” said Arizona State Senator Steve Yarbrough during debate on the measure last week. “This bill is about preventing discrimination against people who are clearly living out their faith.”
These companies, together with JetBlue, American Airline, The Marriotts, the NBA, the NFL, and many others warned Gov. Brewer against singing the legal discriminaionation bill into law
After announcing earlier in the week that she would take her time until Friday or Saturday to announce her decision, Brewer called a hasty press conference Wednesday, in which she took no questions. Ms. Brewer announced her veto after spending the day holed up in the Capitol in private meetings with opponents and supporters. “I call them like I see them, despite the cheers or the boos from the crowd,” she said. She added that the legislation “does not address a specific or present concern related to religious liberty in Arizona,” and that it was “broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences.” The governor further castigated the Republican-controlled Legislature, which passed the bill last in Mid-February, for making it the first piece of legislation to reach her desk this year. Her priorities, she said, are a budget, continuing the state’s economic growth, and “fixing our broken child protection system.”
The measure is the latest initiative in Arizona to set off a political firestorm. Arizona is still struggling to repair its image and finances after the boycotts and bad publicity it endured after the passage of an immigration law, also known as the “paper please” law in 2010. That law would have given police officers the right to stop people whom they suspected of being in the country illegally.
On Monday February 24, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. spoke about bans on same-sex marriage within the states, mostly in about 9 states in the South, including Georgia, Idaho, Ohio, Oklahoma and South Dakota. The Attorney General indicated that he sees ways to curb those bans on Gay Marriage.
Vladimir Putin's Russia
Sent Military to Ukraine – Ukraine Mobilizes Troops
SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine — on Saturday March 2, 2014, Russia moved to seize control of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. The build of troops along the Ukrainian border rattled the new Ukrainian government and prompted Ukraine to call up its military reserves by Sunday, and warn Moscow against further incursions. Mr. Yanukovych’s refusal, under Russian pressure, to sign new political and free trade agreements with the European Union last fall set off the civil unrest that last month led to the deaths of more than 80 people, and ultimately unraveled his presidency. The country’s new interim government has said it will revive those accords. On Saturday, Russian troops in military vehicles bearing the license plates of Russia’s Black Sea force but wearing uniforms without the identifying Russian insignia swarmed the major thoroughfares of Crimea across the border from Russia. They encircled government buildings, closed the main airport and seized communication hubs, solidifying what began on Friday as a covert effort to control the largely pro-Russian region. In Sevastopol, pro-Russian “self-defense” forces were blocking the entrances of the main Ukrainian naval headquarters.
Col. Sergei Starozhenko, the Ukrainian commander, told reporters the unmarked troops had arrived about 5 A.M. and “they want to block the base.” He said he expected them to bring reinforcements and call for talks. Asked how many men he has at his command, he said simply: “Enough.” At Perevalnoye, a small Ukrainian base some 15 miles south of Simferopol on the road to Yalta, scores of soldiers with masks, helmets and goggles, in unmarked uniforms, ranged along one wall of the base. Inside there were about two dozen Ukrainian soldiers, equipped with an armored personnel carrier.
Saturday, a pro-Russian crowd in Simferopol waved a Russian flag in front of a local government building guarded by armed men. It also started with former Ukraine Prime Minister Yanukovych’s refusal, under Russian pressure, to sign new political and free trade agreements with the European Union last fall set off the civil unrest that last month led to the deaths of more than 80 people, and ultimately unraveled his presidency. The country’s new interim government has said it will revive those accords. This crisis has the potential to create a breach in the international agreements on the sanctity of the borders of the post-Soviet nations, and bring back the Era of the Cold War between Eastern and Western powers.
Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksandr V. Turchynov, said at a briefing in Kiev on Saturday evening that he had ordered Ukraine’s armed forces “to full combat readiness.” A Ukrainian military official in Crimea said Ukrainian soldiers had been told to “open fire” if they came under attack by Russian troops or others though it was unlikely they could pose a serious challenge to Russian forces. Analysts generally agree that the goal of the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, may be to destabilize the region, rather than engaging in an all-out with the neighboring country, as was the case in the bloody war following the invasion of Georgia by Russia after the breakup of former Soviet Union when the Republic of Georgia sought to regain its independence from Russia.
Meanwhile, the aggressive response from Russia left world leaders and NATO scrambling for appropriate diplomatic responses. It drew sharp warnings and criticism among the Western Alliance. In Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron said that “there can be no excuse for outside military intervention” in Ukraine. Canada said it was recalling its ambassador from Moscow and, like the United States, suspending preparations for the G-8 meeting. The American ambassador, Samantha Power, called for an international observer mission, urged Russia to “stand down” and took a dig at the Russian ambassador, Vitaly I. Churkin, on the issue of state sovereignty, which the Kremlin frequently invokes in criticizing the West over its handling of Syria and other disputes. UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, also spoke with Mr. Putin on Saturday and described himself as “gravely concerned” and urged Mr. Putin to negotiate with officials in Kiev.
President Obama who just hours earlier had pointedly warned Russia to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty, became blunt on Friday, as he warned Russia that it should not intervene militarily in Ukraine, saying the United States will stand with the world to condemn a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty. “There will be costs,” said President Obama in a brief statement from the White House on Friday. The president said the United States government is “deeply concerned” by what he said are “reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside Ukraine.” The president accused Russia on Saturday of a “breach of international law” and condemned the country’s military intervention, calling it a “clear violation” of Ukrainian sovereignty. NATO has scheduled an emergency meeting for Sunday to discuss the crisis in Russia and the Ukraine. As of Sunday, the United States was threatening sanctions against Russia, and several countries, including the UK and Canada has announced a boycott of the upcoming G8 Summit in Sochi in an effort to isolate Russia and force Vladimir Putin to withdraw his troops from Ukraine.
February 15, 2014
Florida Jury Reached Partial Verdict in The Killing of 17 Year Old Jordan Davis
by Michael Dunn
Read our editorial in Views & analysis below
After four days of deliberation, the jury in the trial of Michael Dunn, a Florida man who shot a teenager to death in a parking lot during a dispute over loud music, said it could not agree on whether Mr. Dunn had acted in self-defense or was guilty of murder.The jurors did find Mr. Dunn guilty of three counts of attempted murder for getting out of his car, and firing several times at the Durango sport utility vehicle in which Jordan Davis, 17, was killed but three other teenagers survived. Mr. Dunn continued to fire at the car even as it pulled away. For that crime, Mr. Dunn he could be sentenced to 20 to 60 years in prison.The judge declared a mistrial on the count of first-degree murder. The jury also failed to reach agreement on lesser charges that are automatically included in jury instructions.Those were second- and third-degree murder and manslaughter. Prosecutors are free to move ahead with a new trial on the murder charge, if they wish.
February 12, 2014
The New York Times Broke The News Late Tuesday
Ending three years of brinkmanship in which the threat of a devastating default was used to wring conservative concessions from President Obama, the House on Tuesday voted to raise the government’s borrowing limit until March 2015 – without any conditions.The vote – 221 to 201 – relied primarily on Democrats to carry the legislation, the first debt ceiling increase since 2009 that was not attached to other measures. Only 28 Republicans voted yes.
February 11, 2014
THERE MAY BE NO GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN THIS TIME AROUND
OVER RAISING THE DEBT CEILING TO ALLOW THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT
TO PAY ITS BILL AND PREVENT DEFAULT
From the New York Times: Facing a rebellion over his latest debt ceiling proposal, Speaker John A. Boehner has told House Republicans that he will bring legislation to a vote Wednesday that would raise the government’s borrowing authority with no strings attached.“House Republican leaders told members this morning that it is clear the paid-for military COLA provision will not attract enough support, so we will be bringing up a ‘clean’ debt limit bill tomorrow,” a Republican aide said. “Boehner made clear the G.O.P. would provide the requisite number of Republican votes for the measure but that Democrats will be expected to carry the vote.”;The military provision would have reversed a cut to the pensions of working-age veterans that Congress approved two months ago to try to trim the budget deficit.
Winter Olympics 2014 from Sochi Russia - Medalists
[Update: Monday February 17, 2014]
Meryl Davis & Charile White Winning gold in The Ice Dancing Competition
on Sunday Febraury 16, 2014
The Sochi Olympics 2014 - Men Freestyle Ski Slopestyle Medalists
Gus Kenworthy - Silver Medalist
Gus Kenworthy - Silver Medalist
U.S. Olympics Men Slopestyle Ski Team Medals Sweep Winners
Sage Kotsenburg won the snowboarding gold medal with his incredible trick, which he named
the "Holy Crail."
Austrian Matthias Mayer won gold in the Blue Riband Winter Games Men's Downhill
Alpine Skiing Women's Super Combined USA - Bronze Medalist Julia Mancuso
Jamie Anderson completes Slopestyle Sweep - USA won 2nd gold medal
IN THE NEWS
February 6, 2014 [1:30 AM]
Fallen Stars Governor Chris Christie in Trouble Waters under the Washington Bridge Traffic Jam in Gate in Fort Lee - Walls Are Closing In on Gov Read below [See related articles and links below]
the New York Times broke a story tonight that the Port Authority official who personally oversaw the lane closings on the George Washington Bridge in the scandal now swirling around Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey said on Friday that the governor knew about the lane closings when they were happening, and that he had the evidence to prove it.
The Port Authority official who personally oversaw the lane closings on the George Washington Bridge in the scandal now swirling around Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey said on Friday that the governor knew about the lane closings when they were happening, and that he had the evidence to prove it.In a letter released by his lawyer, the official, David Wildstein, a high school friend of Mr. Christie’s who was appointed with the governor’s blessing at the Port Authority, which controls the bridge, described the order to close the lanes as “the Christie administration’s order” and said “evidence exists as well tying Mr. Christie to having knowledge of the lane closures, during the period when the lanes were closed, contrary to what the Governor stated publicly in a two-hour press conference” three weeks ago.“Mr. Wildstein contests the accuracy of various statements that the Governor made about him and he can prove the inaccuracy of some,” the letter added.The letter marked the first signal that Mr. Christie was aware of the closings, something he repeatedly denied during a two-hour press conference earlier this month.In early January, documents revealed that a deputy chief of staff to Mr. Christie, Bridget Anne Kelly, had sent an email to Mr. Wildstein saying, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” the town at the New Jersey end of the bridge, where Mr. Christie’s aides had pursued but failed to receive an endorsement from the mayor.Mr. Christie has steadfastly denied that he knew before this month that anyone in his administration was responsible for the lane closings, and his administration has tried to portray it as the actions of a rogue staff member.
NEW YORK STOP-&-FRISK IS DEAD
Mayor Bill de Blasio Announces Agreement in Landmark Stop & Frisk Case
Mayor Bill de Blasio Announces Agreement in Landmark Stop & Frisk Case Brownsville Recreation Center1555 Linden Boulevard, BrooklynJanuary 30, 2014
NEW YORK MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO REACHED AN AGREEMENT WITH CIVIL RIGHTS GROUPS ALONG WITH A SETTLEMENT WITH THE PLAINTIFFS IN THE CASE TO END STOP-&-FRISK
The New York Times: Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday that New York City had reached an agreement with civil rights lawyers who had challenged the Police Department’s stop-and-frisk practices. This announcement makes way for the city to implement the sweeping reforms ordered by a federal judge last summer. Those reforms, which were blocked on appeal by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, include the appointment of a federal monitor to oversee the police department policies toward minorities in the City. Last fall, the judge rule that the city’s stop-and-frisk policies were unconstitutional and that the department had resorted to “a policy of indirect racial profiling.” The judge, Shira A. Scheindlin of Federal District Court in Manhattan, had also ruled that the policy resulted in “the disproportionate and discriminatory stopping of blacks and Hispanics in violation of the Equal Protection Clause” under the Fourteenth Amendment.
After federal judge Shira A. Scheinlin issued her blistering order against the New York City Department Police practices of Stop-&-Frisk and declared it unconstitutional, it was widely reported that the policy has allowed for police to stop over 700,000 New York City residents just in the last year of the policy (2013), mostly Black and Hispanics men without probable cause and search them on the spot for weapons and other contraband. It has been documents and also widely reported that about 98 percent of those stopped over the 9 years that this program has been in effect were found carrying no weapon or drug. A great number of those victimized were handcuffed and brought to police stations for questioning, and even arrested and then released without being charged with any offense or just to see all charges dismissed because they committed no crimes. Court Halts New York Stop-and-Frisk Ruling, Taking Judge Off Case
- Newly released emails seem to bolster Zimmer's case that she was being strongarmed by Christie
- Cartoon: Hungry Mungry
- Republican repeal conundrum gets more complicated by the day
- New laws restrict abortion rights the same way poll tax and literacy tests restricted voting rights
- Millions to go uninsured ... to spite Obama?
- Rand Paul says there is no GOP war on women because Monica Lewinsky, so there
- Cartoon: Lucky Ducky makes a billionaire fear genocidal apocalypse
- Utah Republican: Make the NFL pay taxes
- Documents show Hoboken mayor pressured on development at meeting with state officials
- 'As much as we overestimated what would happen in October ... we underestimated January'
- Right-wing law prof's case against early voting
- NY-11: Grimm's fairy tale could have a happy ending
- Obama: Clapper excused because 'between rock and a hard place'
- Jon Stewart contrasts media treatment of Rob Ford and Justin Bieber with Richard Sherman
January 1, 2014
2013 Year in Review
January: President Barack Obama got sworn in for a historic second term after a brutal 2 billion dollar campaign against Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and vice presidential candidate and Tea Party House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan.
February: It was the deadliest storm in modern Philippine history, and one of the strongest ever recorded. Typhoon Haiyan plowed through the country's midsection on Nov. 8, with winds of more than 150 miles an hour. The storm killed more than 6,000 people and displaced more than three million. President Benigno Aquino III estimated the cost of the damage—including 550,000 homes—at nearly $13 billion. The worst-hit area is mainly agricultural. Government economic managers have said the damage could lower growth, although reconstruction spending should temper the storm's effects on the economy.
Also in February: Christopher Dorner, an ex-police officer, is named a suspect wanted in connection with shootings that occurred throughout Southern California within a week period. In those shootings, three people died, including a police officer and an assistant women's basketball coach at California State University, Fullerton, and several others were wounded. Dorner was later killed after taking refuge in a house in the mountains and taking the homeowners hostage.
March: 76-year old Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires became Pope Francis, succeeding Pope Benedict XVI who stepped down two weeks earlier, citing declining health—the first pontiff in more than six centuries to resign from a position traditionally held until death. Pope Francis of the Jesuit Order has amazed the world and brought back a billion Catholics to the Catholic Church through his return to the basic and fundamental principal of Christianity: caring for the poor and the less fortunate, and “love your neighbor as you love yourself for the love of God.”
April: 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, and his 19 year brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, bombed the Boston Marathon killing 3 people and wounding 260. Day later, the brother killed a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer and started a standoff with Watertown police in a chase that started in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The hunt for the surviving 19 year old Tuft University student shut down and paralyzed Metropolitan Boston for over 24 hours.
May: Under the leadership of the bipartisan so-called “gang of eight,” led by Tea Party Cuban-American Florida Senator,Marco Rubio, the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary approves immigration reform legislation that would give citizenship to millions living in the country illegally. At the time, Rubio was regarded as a rising star in the Republican Party – the man likely to fix Republicans’ electoral deficit among Latinos. However, within days, Rubio was forced to distance himself from his own plan when he came under attack from conservative groups and Tea Party faithful. Rubio who was considered a sure bet to run as a candidate in the 2016 Republican presidential primaries quickly fell from grace and was side swept by Tea Party hardliners the Junior Senators from Texas and Kentucky, respectively Ted Cruz who led the government shutdown with the help of 80 Tea Party House Republicans and Senate Libertarian Rand Paul.
June: 29-year old former NSA contractor and data analysts released top-secret documents to the UK newspaper, The Guardian and the Washington Post, unleashing outrage and disbelief in the massive National Security Agency data-swooping program on American citizens and foreigners. The leak revealed the government’s reach into private telephone, internet, and financial records access by internet into the systems of major service providers, including AT&T, Verizon,Sprint, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and others. Snowden later released thousand more pages of classified documents, some showing illegal practices by the NSA and the monitoring of telephone activities of at least 19 foreign Heads of States, including France and Germany.
Also in June: the Republican majority legislature in Texas passed one of the most restrictive laws banning most abortions and passing regulations which would have made impossible for doctors and clinics to provide abortion services in the State. When the legislature attempted to pass the law in just before midnight at the end of the legislative period, Texas Democratic Senator Wendy Davis mounted an 13- hour filibuster. The filibuster rules in the Texas legislature are strict and forbid members to get off topics, lean on the podium, and even from drinking water. When a Senate colleague tried to provide Mss. Davis with a back support, the Senate Republican Chair declared that she had violated the rules and ordered her to terminate the filibuster By that time, words had gotten out on social media and thousands of people spontaneously showed up and filled the galleries of the capitol, chairing and chanting for her to be allowed to continue. When she was finally forced off the floor just 1 minute before midnight, the Republicans tried to rush the bill through and passed it. However, the record later showed that they had voted for the bill 2 minutes after midnight when the legislative session had already expired, which would have made the bill illegal. That forced the Republicans to pull out the bill. but in July, Texas governor Rick Perry called a special session of the legislature and the bill was passed. Democrats are a small minority in the Texas legislature.
July: A Seminole County Florida Jury found George Zimmerman not guilty in the shooting death 17 year old Trayvon Martin. Reactions around the country was swift as people marched in several cities around the country to protest the verdict from coast to coast.
August: The Islamic politics and cultural website, Islamic Invitation Turkey released a video, they said, showed that the Syrian government had launched a chemical attack near Damascus, the capital of Syria. The international press reported stories about the attack, but the evidence began to indicate that the chemical attack, which killed 1500 civilians, including 400 children, was ordered and carried out by the military forces of Syrian’s President Bashar Al Assad. President Obama threatened military action against Syria. However, several days later, news broke that Secretary of State John Kerry, brand new on the job, had reached a diplomatic agreement with the help of Russian President Vladimir Putin to monitor the destruction of Syria’s entire chemical weapon under the close supervision of the United Nations’ Weapons Inspectors.
Also in August: Federal Judge Shira A. Scheindlin struck down New York’s stop-and-frisk “policy” ruling that the New York Police Department tactics of violated the constitutional rights of minorities in the city. The ruling effectively killed the program, following the election of New York’s new Mayor Bill De Blasio. In her ruling, Judge Scheindlin effectively rejected New York Mayor’s Michael Bloomberg and his administration’s argument that the tactics plays a major element in fighting crime in the city. In her ruling, Judge Shira A. Scheindlin found that the Police Department resorted to a “policy of indirect racial profiling” as it increased the number of stops in minority communities. That has led to officers’ routinely stopping “blacks and Hispanics who would not have been stopped if they were white.” The judge found that patrol officers have used the policy in the past 9 years “to stop innocent people without any objective reason to suspect them of wrongdoing.” Bloomberg tries angrily and desperately to hang onto his racist policy under the pretense of safety, and he woe to pursue this bloody odious legacy through the courts. Ultimately, this scheme will be found unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme; for it cannot survive any serious scrutiny by any person of conscience under the IV and the XIV Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
In Egypt, Muslim Brotherhood Supporters Declared a “Day of Rage.” The country descended into chaos and violence, and appeared to be on the verge of a civil war after the military intervened in Egyptians’ second uprising against President Mohammed Morsi and installed interim PM Hazem Beblawi. Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood vowed to rise against what they considered a military coup and took to the streets by the thousands in protest. Egypt has been under military rule since, and in a state of turmoil since President Morsi was democratically elected by a majority of Egyptians a year ago in the wake of the Arab Spring, which resulted in the ouster of 30-year military dictator Hosni Mubarak in 2011. The military promised new elections, but has since banned the Muslim Brotherhood from political participation, declaring the party a terrorist organization.
September 1: North Carolina passed the most extreme voter ID laws with other measures all aimed at preventing targeted groups of voters from casting ballots in the general elections. Those laws targeted Blacks and Hispanics, younger voters, low income and elderly voters by making it difficult, and in some cases impossible, to obtain newly required State ID that the State made almost impossible to obtain based on the very requirements that were put in place to obtain such ID. In addition, many states reduced the number of days for voting, cut down on voting hours, and reduced voting precincts by moving them out of populated areas and increasing them in more rural areas with lower populations. Civil rights groups successfully sued over those voting restrictions and by Election Day, most of those laws were struck down and found unconstitutional by the Courts. In addition, the Justice Department blocked several of those states from putting those laws into effect by using Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act to challenge the new laws and protect the voting rights of millions of Americans.
September 5: After her fifth attempt, Diana Nyad did something truly historic, when she completed a swim from Havana, Cuba to the Key West, a voyage she started 35 years ago. The 64-year-old left Havana Saturday and reached the shores of Florida’s Key West on Labor Day, Monday, September 2, 2013 just before 2 PM local time after about 53 hours of swimming in shark-infested water. Although looking a bit dazed, with a swollen lip, and covered with sunburn, Nyad swam within feet of the beach before walking onto dry land. She was received by clapping spectators who cheered her on and wanted to take pictures with her. She was taken to the hospital for medical treatment. CBS reported that she was released from the hospital Monday evening after receiving IV treatment. The record-book swimmer told reporters, "I have three messages. One is, we should never, ever give up. Two is, you're never too old to chase your dream. Three is, it looks like a solitary sport, but it is a team," she said on the beach. "I have to say, I'm a little bit out of it right now," she was reporting saying.
September 28: President Obama announced that he spoke on the telephone with the President of Iran, Hassan Ruhani,
before the Iranian President left New York after he attended and delivered a speech at the United Nations this week. The conversation was said to have lasted 10 to 15 minutes, after which President Obama made the announcement to the White House press without taking questions. The President acknowledged the barriers that exists on the road to forging a diplomatic solution over Iran's nuclear program. However, given that the Iranian Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Khomeini gave his green light for President Ruhani to engage in serious diplomatic negotiations with the U.S. to reach a negotiated settlement that would benefit all parties, including the middle East as a whole, by bringing about more stability, and satisfy the United State government, while allowing Iran to continue to pursue a peace civilian nuclear program. This was a breakthrough announcement, considering that the two countries have been in a virtual Cold War and open hostility since 1979, when Iranians revolted and overthrew the American puppet government of the Shah of Iran, took American hostages and returned the Supreme Leader, who was in exile in France, The Ayatollah Khomeini.
October 1: When the clock struck 12:00 last night, the extreme right wing Tea Party Republicans in Congress shut down the federal government. The demand in this hostage-taking: House Republicans want the President of the United State to scrap his own Health Care Law, which was duly passed in both Houses of Congress, upheld as constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, and ratified voters in two elections. At this time, a small but the most radical faction in the Republican majority in the House of Representatives has managed to hold the country hostage and shut down the government. Their leader in name only in the US House, Speaker John Boehner, stumbles and bumbles in front of cameras as if gagged and bound. After two weeks of holding funding for the federal government hostage in an attempt to dismantle the President’s Health Care law, through unworkable legislative maneuver, at midnight last, the Republican majority in the US House of Representatives succeeded in shutting down the federal government.
Also on October 1: The last component of the President’s healthcare law, the open insurance marketplace, was launched and the media, the Republicans, and a small fraction of people who had been covered under sub-standard health insurance plans went into a frenzy over the utter failure of the roll-out due to the abject dysfunction of the website that was built to handle enrollment, healthcare.gov.
October 17, The United States Government re-opened for business after 3 weeks (16 days) of Republican shut down over a failed effort to defund the President’s healthcare law. After resisting putting the Senate bill on the floor of the House without the support of the majority of his Republican Caucus, House Speaker John Boehner (Rep.-Ohio) finally agreed to allow the Senate clean continuing resolution to fund the government to go to the floor of the House for an open democratic vote. The bill was passed with the support of all 200 Democrats in the House; 87 Republicans voted yes, including Speaker Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
November: Historic Typhoon Haiyan stormed through the Philippine at winds of q50 miles an hour. It was the deadliest storm in modern in the history of the country. The storm killed more than 6,000 people and displaced more than three million. A month later, about 101,000 people were still living in government shelters. President Benigno Aquino III estimated the cost of the damage, including 550,000 homes, at about $13 billion.
December: Tea Party House Republican Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate Budget Chair Patty Murray reached a budget agreement passed by both the House and the Senate. The first federal budget to have been enacted in 3 and a half years, paving the way for possible future compromises between the 2 governing parties and signaling a winding down of Republican obstructionism. The passage of the 2013 two-year budget also makes it less likely that Republicans will attempt to shut down the government over the raising of the country’s debt ceiling comes the deadline to do so on February 15, 2014. The budget deal also replaced the sequester cuts that caused the layoff of thousands of government employees and reduced benefits for food stamps recipients and meals on wheels for seniors. Although the Republicans succeeded in cutting $23 billion dollars out of the SNAP program that helps low-income families feed their children, they were unsuccessful in cutting the $40 billion they were looking to cut or eliminate the program altogether. The Democrats also held the line and prevented the Republicans from cutting Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security. However, House Republican Speaker John Boehner adjourned Congress without passing the Senate passed Farm Bill or extending unemployment insurance for the 1.3 million unemployed Americans whose unemployment insurance ended 2 days after Christmas on December 27. Many of the new cuts have been placed squarely on veteran and federal employee pensions.
The Boston Red Sox won the World Series.
The Stock Market rose to all-time highs, breaking all records going back 50 years.
Wall Street ended its best year since the 1990’s.
The S&P 500 closed the year at record highs_ 29.6%.
The Dow Jones Industrial climbed to 26.5% ending its best year since 1995.
The Nasdaq climbed to 38.3% - its best year since 2009.
Wall Street and big banks settled with the government in a
multi-layer investigation into the fraudulent financial practices that led to the economic crash of 2008, and paid billions of dollars in fines and penalties, but nobody went to prison for defrauding ordinary citizens and causing untold miseries to homeowners and pensioners.
Worker marched and protested low wages
Hispanics marched to demand immigration reform and a stop to deportation and the break up of families
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Views & Analysis
In this section, we will analyze important news and offer our own views and opinion on the issues of the day. We will approach those issues from angles that may not be covered by the larger news media. We encourage and appreciate your feedback.
September 7, 2013
Syria – Is America an Imperial Power or Not?
If the Answer is no
We Have no Business Bombing Anyone
Except in Self-Defense
Or to Protect U.S. & ally-Nations' security Interest
Last week, U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, a Vietnam veteran who demonstrated the war, made a stunningly bold and powerful statement, indicating that not only did the United States obtain conclusive evidence that the Syrian army use chemical gas to kill over 1500 people, including 400 children, but the administration was also in the process of planning a retaliatory attack on Syria for the alleged act. The civil war between Syrian rebels and Syria’s President Bashar Al Assad has been raging for over two years, with over 100,000 casualties, including civilians and children. The destruction in Syria has been massive. In the United States, some lawmakers, such as former Vietnam veteran and prisoner of war, Republican Senator John McCain and War Hock Senator Lindsey Graham, had been calling for the United States to provide weapons and other military equipment to the rebels. However, no one knows for sure who these rebels are. There are reports that the rebel groups are divided among Syrian revolutionaries who want to get rid of the thirty-year regime of President Assad and various Jihad and Al Qaeda groups.
Meanwhile, on one side of the war, have been the United States and its friend and ally in the Middle East, Israel, and most European countries--the same coalition that took the rebel side in Libya and ended the reign of President Muammar Gaddafi who died in the conflict. On the other hand, standing with Syria, are Russia, China, Iran, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and some other countries, including Hamas in the West Bank. Syria has received heavy weaponry from Russia, and perhaps from other countries, such as China, Iran, and North Korea. In addition, the Syrian army is much better trained and prepared than was the Iraqi army when both President George H. Walker Bush declared his Golf War (Desert Storm) on Iraq for invading Kuwait in 1989, and when George W. Bush invaded Iraq in 2003 ”Shock and Awe,” with a bombing campaign followed by a full ground invasion that left hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead, imprisoned, or fleeing the country, as well as over 4,000 American soldiers dead and over 32,000 severely injured by improvised explosive devices or IED . Eventually, that war went on for 10 years unti President Obama, who ascended to office by running against the Iraq war, began withdrawing American troops from the country last year. The war in Afghanistan, which started after 9-11-2001, is still on-going with plans to withdraw the last American troops out of that country by 2015.
The American President’s rational for retaliating against Syria is the international agreement that banned the use of chemical and biological weapons after World War. That agreement was reiterated in 1972, and then again in 1993, and was signed by all but a handful of the countries in the world. Syria was not a party to that agreement. The real issues are that the United States has no real business either telling other countries what to do, or to act as the policeman of the world. In addition, the argument that the U.S. action is necessary to take a stand against a perceived egregious act by Syria is eviscerated, given that the international community that signed the chemical ban treaty is now retreating, with many of the signatory countries now refusing to participate in any U.S. military initiative. If this was not enough to invalidate a U.S. military action, the chemical ban treaty was signed under a United Nation Charter, and therefore would require a U.N. resolution to trigger a call to action. More importantly, this idea that somehow 15 hundreds people being killed by chemical weapons is an atrocity, when we watched pictures of dead and injured people, including children, day after day, all killed by machine guns, bombs, and missiles while we did nothing to intervening, is ludicrous. The fact in the matter is: The time has come for Western powers, including the United States, to stop waging war in that part of the world.
First, it was all about oil; America has to defend “its interests” in the region, used to be the pretense given to the country for invading Arab countries. Then somehow, it became all about Iran. Neocons from the failed Bush years have been itching for a war from day one of the first four years of the Obama administration. America, somehow felt endowed with some great power to order the Iranian government to stop working on nuclear activities. They have been fixing for a war with Iran. And now many view this alleged chemical weapon attack as their chance to start a war in Syria, which they hope will spill over into Iran. In fact, the United States has had an issue with Iran since the Iranians overthrew the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, in the Iranian revolution in 1979. Similar to every corrupt hand-picked dictator the United States has installed around the world, such as in Cuba, Haiti, and other countries, the Shah was a puppet of the U.S. The people of Iran revolted against America puppetry and exploitation, and brought back the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini who had been in exile in France. This chain of events created a rift between the United States and Iran since 1979. But in every case, after each of those revolutions, the U.S. government would start a propaganda war against the government that the people elect to install. And without failing, government officials would begin to refer to the new governments as “regimes,” “brutal dictators” who kill their own people, terrorist states, and on and on the propaganda machine would squeak on. This is of course classic demonization. It is a Machiavellian principle that you demonize your enemy in order to free yourself from the burdens of public opinion and morality, even the rule of international law, when you decide to attack them or even assassinate them.
We now find ourselves a junction where President Obama has painted itself into a corner. This is sad for a president who ran on opening up dialogues, even engaging with all world leaders anew, including previous enemies, without pre-condition; a position for which he was roundly criticized by his opponents during the 2008 campaign. War is an action of last resort; It is meant for self-defense when a country is attacked, or to protect a nation’s internal or international security interests when such are threatened. Neither is the case here. America has no business drawing up lines, red or otherwise, within which other countries should walk, act, or fall. Even worse, this policy has no credibility, considering all of the countries that now have nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, including Israel, Pakistan, India, North Korea, Russia, and China. Worst, still, The United States stood by idly on the side of Iraq when Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons to put down a civil war against Shia Arabs in Iraq, the Kurds, and against Iran during the Iran Iraq war. The U.S. never intervened when Israel bombs the life out of the Palestinians for over forty years. The bottom line is that not only is the time of imperial power at an end, the nature of warfare has changed forever. Therefore, Obama and Congress should refrain from getting involved in what will surely become one more war in the Middle East, a land that is going through all this turmoil due to the way America and Europeans have damaged and broken up that ancient civilization, which now they consider backwards. There can be no winners in any type of intervention in Syria by the United State or by any western powers at this time. The division we now witness, both internationally and here in the U.S., over what course of action to follow, is not only a sign of a war-weary nation, but also the consequence of the insane foreign policy and unnecessary wars that were forced onto this country by the administration of George W. Bush. The chicken-hocks and Neocons from that Era took the country into war on fabricated intelligence; It was a war at all cost and no diplomacy, and never mind peace type of ideology. Obama must take the country off that course, and put an end to the Neocons once and for all. That is the only way this president will regain any credibility for his foreign policy and the country, and remove himself from the corner in which he is being painted and dragging us all along into.
July 23, 2013
The George Zimmerman Murder Trial
Under Florida Stand-your-ground law, Zimmerman was entitled to a hearing before a judge to invoke the law and possibly receive immunity from prosecution. Zimmerman waived his rights to that hearing and instead decided to go on trial based on as a straight self-defense. Nonetheless, even though stand-your-ground was never a part of the trial, and neither party brought it up at any point, Judge Debra Nelson included the law in the jury instructions. This was surely a judicial error on her part. Judge Nelson has other responsibilities in allowing Zimmerman to get off scot-free on Second Degree Murder charges and manslaughter. For example, the judge allowed a motion by the defense forbidding the prosecution from using the term “racial profiling.” The ludicrousness of this is that the entire case was based on race. There can be no doubt that had Trayvon Martin been of White skin he would have been alive today, and anyone who claims otherwise ought to join the vacuum-thinker society and immediately moves to the great state of denial. But, even worst, when Zimmerman’s defense attorney Mark O’Mara started to stink up the courtroom with racial innuendos, scapegoating, and even calling a witness to suggest that Martin got exactly what he deserves because he is a Black youth, the judge allowed that to come in, a testimony that was highly prejudicial and inflammatory and had zero probative value.
The self-defense law has been on the books in jurisprudence since the beginning of time and is recognized in all 50 states and in every country. It is used in justifiable homicide. Self-defense is a sacred right. The idea behind it is that if you are attacked by someone and feels that your life is in danger, you have a God-given right to defense yourself in any manner available to you, including the use of deadly force. Self-defense, however, does not protect anyone who goes out looking for a fight, provokes a confrontation, and then kills another because they are losing the fight (especially in the case of Zimmerman where he knew that the police was on their way), or to kill someone because you want to, or perhaps it is what you had intended to do from the beginning. Sanford Police Detective Soreno who virtually testified for the defense, even though he was a prosecution witness, said that based on the consistency with which Zimmerman told his version of what happened on the night of February 26 when he killed Tryavon, Zimmerman “would have to be a pathological liar or telling the true.” Zimmer seems to fall into the first category, and like the dead teenager told his friend Rachel Jeantel on the phone minutes before Zimmerman shot him in the heart, Zimmerman is a “creep.” In the word of George Kastanza of the Seinfeld, “It is not a lie if you believe it.” In that episode, Kastanza was portraying a pathological liar. What would any of us do if we were to shoot someone dead? The answer is, we would come up with a story quickly to justify our action before the police arrive. And Zimmerman who was schooled in self-defense law, and the new Florida stand-your-ground law in his criminal justice classes, had plenty of time to make up a story to justify the killing while he waited on the scene of the murder for the police to arrive.
Ordinarily, self-defense is both an easy and hard defense to win on. In most cases where a defendant claims self-defense, the other party in the conflict in dead and therefore only the surviving party can take the stand to tell the jury what happened from their perspectives. Given this, even in the presence of good forensic evidence, self-defense remains largely a circumstantial legal quagmire, and unless prosecutors have sufficient direct evidence and witnesses to disprove a defendant’s version of the occurrence, a defendant is likely to be acquitted of murder charges. This being said, most defendants who plead self-defense get convicted, except for those with unlimited resources to hire dream team defense attorneys who will do whatever it takes, including assassinating the character of the dead victim and using inflammatory racial tactics in court to help their clients get away with murder, as was seen in the George Zimmerman’s defense strategy. Needless to say that self-defense is not typically used successfully when the defendant is Black. The reasons for this are 1) Many Black defendants do not have the financial resources to hire competent private attorneys and are routinely pushed by public defenders to plead guilty under threat that they might end up spending life in prison if they chose a trial by jury and are found guilty, which is always a risk. This is a practical strategy considering that White jurors tend to perceive Black defendants as capable of the worst making the testimony and any statement by a Black defendant more likely to be dismissed and disbelieved by jurors. With this backdrop, Zimmerman’s defense lawyers shamelessly used Trayvon’s race to appeal to the White Jurors’ basal instincts of bias, prejudice, and bigotry toward the dead teenager. This was not the first time defense lawyers had turned a murder victim into a monster who deserved to be killed, but defense attorneys for Zimmerman allowed themselves to get carried away and jumped over the boundaries of all decency into the territory of disgrace.
What makes this case unique is that any thinking observer, who watched the trial in its entirety and listened to Zimmerman’s multiple statements to police after the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, could see through the well-fabricated story that Zimmerman told police and stuck to throughout. The same police that was more than willing to swallow his story whole the very night of the shooting. Zimmerman knew that the police was on his side right from the start, so the question is, why then would he not have stuck to his story? After all, it was working for him with those who counted. Finally, the idea that George Zimmerman has some sort of Hispanic blood or background in him is so irrelevant to this case, and apparently seems to provide some intrigue only to those who do not understand race relations in this country, are ignorant of the pervasive nature of racism, and are clueless relatives to the underlying animosity that exists among some Hispanics and Black Americans. This case is an all-around failure of racial cohesiveness in American society and a total exposure of the unequal and racist nature of American jurisprudence. If there was any doubt that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has brought the American civil war into our court system to continue the dismantling of the Black community, the Trayvon Martin case has obliterated all remain doubt.
the life out of a teenager. And he said in an interview with Shawn Hannity of Fox News that if he had to do it all over, he would not change a thing. He has been sitting in Court showing absolutely no remorse or concerns, just waiting for his lawyers to get him off. Every human being of good will, Black or White, should be outraged by the circumstances of this case.
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