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Planning Begins For First 2016 Republican Presidential Debate

Huffington Post News - 47 min 15 sec ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — The 2014 midterm elections are days away, but preparation are already underway for the first debate of the 2016 presidential primary contest.

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation announced on Thursday that it will invite GOP presidential candidates to attend a televised debate at California's Reagan Library in September 2015. Former first lady Nancy Reagan noted that the country is less than a year away from the beginning of an important national conversation. "I can't think of a better way to honor my husband than to keep the tradition of Reagan Library-hosted debates alive," she said.

The announcement comes more than two years before voters will decide President Barack Obama's successor. But in some ways, the next presidential contest is already up and running.

Prospective Republican White House hopefuls have been jockeying for position while helping their GOP colleagues in midterm contests from Iowa to New Hampshire in recent weeks. The list includes Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, another prospective presidential candidate, has been campaigning for Democrats.

While the Regan Library hosted GOP debates in the last two presidential contests, it's unclear if the Republican National Committee will sanction the one now set for Sept. 16, 2015.

The RNC recently approved new rules that would limit the number of presidential primary debates. Some GOP officials believe that too many debates over a long primary season in 2012 damaged some of the party's candidates. In response to such concerns, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus established a 13-member committee of Republican officials that would set debate rules, including selecting venues, debate partners and even moderators.

"Our current focus is on taking back the Senate and growing the party this coming Tuesday," RNC spokesman Sean Spicer said when asked about the Reagan Library event. "By the end of the year the RNC will release a list of sanctioned debates and we look forward to working with networks, venues and groups that have an interest in hosting a debate."

Nancy Reagan, meanwhile, was enthusiastic about the event at the library in Simi Valley, California.

"Ronnie would be so pleased to know that his presidential library continues to attract America's leaders to discuss the future of the country he loved so dearly," she said.

Categories: Political News and Opinion

Healthcare workers treating Ebola patients should be commended--not treated as untouchables

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 2 min ago

As a former Physician Assistant who provided medical treatment to AIDS victims in Los Angeles in the 1980s, I have seen firsthand the danger when hysteria overruns science. We should celebrate and not punish healthcare professionals like Kaci Hickox and all the brave American public health workers who have traveled to the countries most impacted by the Ebola outbreak to provide essential health services.

One of America's most exceptional traditions is our healthcare workers going to areas across the globe that are the most in need and providing medical care. It is perhaps the greatest example of American courage. As a nurse, Ms. Hickox showed compassion for her fellow humans when she traveled to West Africa to treat Ebola patients. Now back in the United States, she is showing no symptoms of the disease, and she has tested negative for Ebola not once--but twice. We should embrace her --not treat her as a prisoner and an untouchable--forcing her into a quarantine for three days against her will and now insisting that she stay in her home.

I am very disappointed in states--including California--that are issuing quarantine orders that run afoul of science. California's Department of Public Health's order yesterday that anyone arriving in California from an Ebola-affected area and who has had personal contact with a person infected with the deadly virus will be quarantined for 21 days is unwarranted and unworkable unless we violate Americans' constitutional rights. These orders will only prevent qualified health care workers from traveling to the impacted countries--making it even more difficult to end the Ebola epidemic at its source. In addition, these orders could also prevent people from seeking medical attention because they may fear the hysteria that could surround them.

When Congress returns after the elections next week we will have a choice. We can either follow science and provide the three nations in West Africa with resources and personnel to finally end this outbreak at the source, or we can give in to our irrational fears, play into the hysteria, and go down the path of travel bans and quarantines.

As American leaders, we are called to follow our better angels, not play into fear, and support nurses like Kaci Hickox and provide assistance and encouragement to our brave healthcare personnel who are doing the Lord's work in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.

Congresswoman Karen Bass is the Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations.

Categories: Political News and Opinion

CDC Removed Info On Coughing And Sneezing From Ebola Q&A

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 45 min ago

WASHINGTON -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has quietly removed some Ebola information from its website. The changes follow claims from news outlets and conservative blogs that the agency hasn't been forthcoming about how the virus spreads, but it was not clear on Thursday afternoon whether the removal was related to the reports.

The New York Post reported Tuesday that the agency "admitted" Ebola can be contracted through casual contact with a doorknob, seemingly contrary to the CDC's insistence that Ebola is only transmissible through direct contact with bodily fluids from a person sick with the disease. The Post cited a page on the CDC's website that said Ebola spreads through droplets that can travel short distances when a sick person coughs or sneezes.

Meryl Nass, an internal medicine physician in Ellsworth, Maine, first highlighted the page on her own blog over the weekend.

The page was a PDF document that explained the difference between infections spread through the air or by droplets. The PDF had been taken down as of Thursday afternoon, with this message in its place: "The What’s the difference between infections spread through air or by droplets? Fact sheet is being updated and is currently unavailable. Please visit cdc.gov/Ebola for up-to-date information on Ebola."

An earlier version of the page is still available in Google's cache. It said that while Ebola is not "airborne" like chickenpox or tuberculosis, it can travel a few feet in the air inside droplets emitted when someone coughs or sneezes.

"A person might also get infected by touching a surface or object that has germs on it and then touching their mouth or nose," the document said.

The CDC has also changed an Ebola Q&A, deleting the below question about coughing and sneezing (which are not typical Ebola symptoms):

Can Ebola spread by coughing? By sneezing?

Unlike respiratory illnesses like measles or chickenpox, which can be transmitted by virus particles that remain suspended in the air after an infected person coughs or sneezes, Ebola is transmitted by direct contact with body fluids of a person who has symptoms of Ebola disease. Although coughing and sneezing are not common symptoms of Ebola, if a symptomatic patient with Ebola coughs or sneezes on someone, and saliva or mucus come into contact with that person’s eyes, nose or mouth, these fluids may transmit the disease.

The version of the Q&A still online notes that Ebola can survive on doorknobs for several hours. The removed question is available in Google's cache from Oct. 29.

What's strange about removing the coughing-and-sneezing question is that it has been reposted all over the internet, including at news outlets like the Washington Post in early October, on state public health agency websites, and on blogs like Democratic Underground and Daily Kos.

The CDC did not respond to multiple requests for comment about the changes.

Asked about the possibility of Ebola becoming airborne at an Oct. 7 press conference, CDC Director Tom Frieden said Ebola hasn't spread that way before and is unlikely to mutate into an airborne form.

"Ebola spreads by direct contact with someone who is sick or with the body fluids of someone who is sick or died from it," Frieden said. "We do not see airborne transmission in the outbreak in Africa. We don’t see it elsewhere in what we’ve seen so far."

Categories: Political News and Opinion

GOTV: Rides to the polls in key States

Daily Kos Michigan Feed - 1 hour 48 min ago

GOTV:  Rides to the polls in Battleground States.

I don't have to tell anyone that we are down to it.  I am personally very alarmed at the thought of a red senate, but if you need any more motivation to help GOTV, Howard Dean projects these as least some of the consequences of letting the senate be taken over.  

   

    1. At least two more years of Republican obstructionism, especially when it comes to confirming new judges.

    2. A Republican Congress will pass huge new tax cuts for the wealthy and for big businesses.

    3. They'll also impose cuts on -- and will try to privatize -- Social Security and Medicare.

    4. Republicans will roll back women's rights and may try to limit access to birth control by passing a "personhood" law.

    5. Obamacare will be gutted, rolling back the big gains we've made to get affordable health care to more families.87

Well, that raised my anxiety level. Again. But I am also very inspired and hopeful as a result of the great work being done by Kossacks to gotv. We can do this.

Below the fold, you will find info about how to get a ride in different states as well as a link to find your polling place.  Please pass this along to any pages, sites, groups in those areas that you can.  I also understand from Rebel GA (big hat tip) that people may try their local senior center to see if they can get a ride, some areas have cab companies that will give free rides and a few areas have free bus rides on Election Day.  

Categories: Local and Michigan Blogs

Jerks Like This Make Us Wonder If We Even Deserve Halloween Anymore

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 49 min ago

Halloween is supposed to be easy to love. After all, it's the only holiday in which your sole obligation is to have fun, help others have fun, or, if you're a total grouch, just stay home with the doorbell muted. We get to dress up -- or dress our kids, pets and houses up -- using our creativity and costume-design skills to scare, amuse and impress others.

At least that's what Halloween is supposed to be. In recent years, however, the basic tenets of the holiday seem to have given rise to idiocy and excess, sometimes very real and sometimes mistakenly perceived. Perhaps most visibly, social media has provided a platform to the people who think the "too-soon" costumes are edgy, and the "not-in-a-million-years" ones are downright hilarious. But it's not just the costumes. For some reason, around Oct. 31, people have a strange tendency to take everything too far. The outrage machine then gets cranked up and Halloween ends up being a sad reminder of why we can't have nice things.

So, to the people and things below, screw you, you're ruining this great holiday for everyone else.



On Halloween, some people think it's totally okay to dress up as a domestic abuser!

The Ray Rice scandal sent shockwaves through the nation earlier this year, when surveillance video leaked to TMZ showed the NFL star knocking his then-fiancee, now-wife unconscious in a hotel elevator. After a serious nationwide discussion on domestic violence, people vowed to treat the issue with respect thought it would make a super funny costume, apparently. As if making a joke about domestic violence wasn't bad enough, a few decided to top it all off with a little blackface:

And another one RT @mdlamaster @KeithOlbermann
And we have a winner in the proud daughter sweepstakes for morons.
pic.twitter.com/KWlzNK9B7p

— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) October 26, 2014



Seriously. This is a couple's costume ...

If you missed this amazing racism and pro-DV bs posted to Instagram by @RitterZac (account now locked) pic.twitter.com/7ULCxhVfVC

— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) October 26, 2014


Just why? It's not funny. It's not clever. The Ray Rice costume is this year's Trayvon Martin costume, and yes, it should make you feel physically ill that a sentence like that can even exist.

Blackface is horrible and offensive. But, for some reason, the issue seems to pop up every Halloween. Someone else's race or culture shouldn't be a costume, period. There are plenty of awesome things you can dress up as without deliberately trying to inflame racial tensions or offend people. You know it's going to piss someone off either in person, or on the Internet (when it inevitably ends up there).

This, too, is poor form:

@ellievhall A hijabi friend of mine got this text from a former college classmate: pic.twitter.com/AyQxqTQ7B8

— Ismat Sarah Mangla (@ismat) October 28, 2014




Meanwhile, others aren't sure if it's Ebola, or EbLOLa.

Here's another horrible costume idea based on a tragic story that’s dominated news headlines in 2014 -- Sexy Ebola Nurse. If "Modest Ebola Nurse" wasn't bad enough, for $59.99, costume shop BrandsOnSale will mail you a tight "lab coat" dress, gloves and a mask to anyone insensitive enough to poke fun at a deadly viral outbreak that has claimed nearly 5,000 lives.



Will people actually wear it? Probably, says ABC News.



And hapless infants are fair territory in this tasteless game of dress-up.

People are now getting their kids involved in their dumb Halloween costume adventures, too. Controversial getups like Baby Cigarette and Baby Pimp are big sellers on BrandsOnSale, owner Jonathan Weeks told CBS Los Angeles. "Halloween is one day out of the year you can dress up and be anything," Weeks said. But just because you can, doesn't mean you need to. Especially when your kids can’t yet tell you what an idiot you are.

When you buy a costume for your baby that proves you weren't ready to be a parent pic.twitter.com/JKO183bWBW

— Yassir Lester (@Yassir_Lester) October 23, 2014




And it wouldn't be Halloween without some serious body-shaming.

Halloween's great (when people aren't trying to ruin it), but it's not exactly known for its kindness to women. People just love making fun of "slutty" costumes, and everyone has an opinion on whether anyone should wear them. Is a sexy witch costume degrading? Is it fun and empowering? Should we even care how people dress? Navigating this holiday as a girl is already full of body-image land mines, but this week, Walmart took things to a whole new level with a "Fat Girl Costumes" section of its website. There, visitors found a selection of plus-sized costumes.


A screenshot from Walmart.com taken on October 27.

A presumed mistake by the site's developers (the section was removed within a few hours) forced the retail giant's PR team into overdrive, issuing semi-robotic apologies via Twitter. Really, Walmart? Even you should be above this.



And it's cool to poke fun at a neighbor's dead relative this time of year, too, right?

Continuing the theme of poor judgment, a Dallas man recently decorated the outside of his home as an Ebola quarantine zone. Hazmat barrels and caution tape surround the residence, which has understandably raised a few neighbors' eyebrows and garnered criticism from the family of Thomas Eric Duncan, who died of Ebola at a Dallas hospital. While the homeowner characterized the display as "all in good fun," Duncan's family called it "insulting."





Well, at least these lawn decorations are there for the taking.

Halloween Grinches descend on tacky home decor every year, but we can only imagine what they plan to do with a massive inflatable haunted train. Seriously, where is someone going to put a "spooky monster butler"? Or an inflatable witch head that belonged to a 5-year-old? Probably the only thing worse than showing off a ghost riding a motorcycle in your front yard is being that asshole who steals it.



Deep. Fried. Candy. Corn.

Halloween candy sales are expected to top $2.5 billion in 2014, and depending on whom you ask, candy corn is either the best or the worst treat for the holiday. Seeing as how this is America, it was apparently only a matter of time until someone decided that deep-frying this polarizing confection would be a good idea.

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Post by OH, Bite It.


Gross. Do not make these.



Halloween is a time for every kid's favorite thing: candy being lectured ...

No one likes people who use Halloween handouts to promote their own agenda. Sure, that goes for dentists who give out floss or toothbrushes, but ESPECIALLY for anti-vaccine advocates who've taken to labeling innocent candy bars with misinformation on vaccines. The National Vaccine Information Center, an anti-vaccine organization, is encouraging people to print their own labels at home, the blog Respectful Insolence first reported. As a reminder, all but a lonely few scientists and medical experts disagree with the suggestion vaccines may be harmful.

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Post by National Vaccine Information Center.


Speaking of propaganda: Religious pamphlets remain the #1 worst thing to give out on Halloween. Even little kids know it.



Chick Publications, purveyor of some controversial evangelical tracts, has a ton of miniature comic books available for purchase on its website with Halloween-themed messages. One shows a young boy getting fatally hit by a car while trick-or-treating, and another tells the tale of a group of high schoolers who summon the devil by sacrificing a black cat on an altar. What Halloween fun! Yeah, no one likes creepy religious pamphlets.



When parents face their worst fear: monsters trying to get their babies high on the pot.

Fear mongering isn't just for anti-vaxxers. Marijuana is now legal in Colorado, and parents in the Centennial State are reportedly worried that some evil person might slip a pot candy in their trick-or-treater's goody bag. The Denver Police Department heard the concern loud and clear, responding with a campaign full of scary graphics proving that marijuana-infused candy looks pretty similar to regular candy.

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Post by Denver Police Department.


Of course, it's unclear why anybody would waste a significant amount of money -- a couple of dollars per candy, if not more -- just to try to get kids high, which would likely be terrifying and unpleasant, though not life-threatening. There's no real precedent for it.

The simple solution, as with previous unfounded scares about poisoned, razor blade-laden candy, is for parents to throw out any candy that isn't in its original packaging and, if you're really paranoid, to make sure that there aren't any misleadingly labeled pot candies in your kid's trick-or-treat bag. That, or splurge on this marijuana candy test kit made specifically for Halloween.



Honestly, there's too much outrage to keep track of. Let's just get offended by everything.

There will be plenty of actual things to be outraged about this Halloween -- let's not invent additional ones.

In New Jersey, a woman came under fire for having Halloween decorations that some neighbors say went too far. The display featured baby dolls hanging from ropes, which could be "frightening to children," one neighborhood parent said. Somehow, the controversy ended up as a local news story, leading the homeowner to say she wouldn't take down her decorations until after Halloween. In Minneapolis, a similar story emerged, but with a yard full of scary zombies.

And in North Carolina, a billboard for a local haunted woods attraction was called too "disturbing" because it featured a picture of undead woman with half of a face. “I don’t want to see violence against women so for me that was something that stood out,” a local mother told WGNO. “Why is it just a female face and why does it look like someone has beaten her?”



Obviously, violence against women is not something to take lightly, as we went over with the Ray Rice-costumed idiots above. But that's really not the issue here. Halloween is supposed to be spooky. And fun! Let's keep it that way.

Categories: Political News and Opinion

Probe Of Possible Ferguson Grand Jury Leak On Twitter Wasn't Exactly In-Depth

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 51 min ago

WASHINGTON -- St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch stated definitively on Thursday that a Twitter account claiming inside knowledge of the grand jury deliberating whether to charge the police officer who killed Michael Brown "had, indeed, been hacked." But a spokesman for McCulloch revealed that his conclusion was based solely on an interview with the St. Louis County woman associated with the account and a search of her computer.

Susan M. Nichols had operated a Twitter account under the name @thesusannichols. In early October, a tweet sent from the account indicated that the user knew "someone sitting on the grand jury of this case" and that there wasn't enough evidence to charge Ferguson, Missouri, Police Officer Darren Wilson in Brown's death. The message was quickly deleted, and Nichols began telling multiple media outlets that her account had been hacked and that she had not used it in months.

McCulloch said after the possible leak that he would be "shocked if a member of the grand jury said anything." On Thursday, he announced that his office had concluded that the account was hacked "and the origin/author of the tweet is unknown."

McCulloch spokesman Ed Magee told The Huffington Post that Nichols had voluntarily spoken with investigators and never went under oath. While Nichols also allowed investigators to look at her computer, they did not examine her cell phone or any other electronic devices she might own, Magee said.

"She said she has nothing to do with it, and that's what we went by and we couldn't prove otherwise," Magee said. "She was very cooperative, came in and talked to us." She didn't have a lawyer, he said.

McCulloch's office subpoenaed Twitter for information about @thesusannichols, but the company said it didn't have IP logs affiliated with the account, according to Magee. (Twitter's website says some information like IP logs "may only be stored for a very brief period of time.") Investigators did not look for information associated with @smde7763, the Twitter handle that @thesusannichols adopted shortly after attention was called to the original username, because Magee said it was "a different account." (But the two Twitter handles have seemingly identical histories of tweets going back over a year.)

Magee said the investigation was complicated by the fact that there was "no crime that she committed" and that Nichols was talking to the office voluntarily. McCulloch's statement on Thursday said that Nichols "has no connection with any member of the grand jury."

Before @thesusannichols sent out the tweet claiming insider knowledge about the grand jury, the account was actively discussing what was happening in Ferguson. Whoever was operating the account under Nichols' name claimed to be wearing a bracelet in support of Officer Wilson in late September. "Here's a thought. Don't raise your kids to be thugs. #Ferguson," the account said in late August. Amid tweets about the 16th season of the reality show "Big Brother" and retweets about #Benghazi, the account also said that protesters "disgrace the STL [St. Louis] name."

A woman returning a phone call left for Susan M. Nichols said she had nothing to say. “I’m not interested, no comment,” she said.

Categories: Political News and Opinion

Parents, Teachers Deliver Over 100,000 Signatures To Time Magazine Demanding Apology

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 53 min ago

Teachers, parents and union leaders gathered in front of Time magazine headquarters on Thursday to protest the publication’s latest cover. According to a press release from the American Federation of Teachers, the cover (pictured below) depicts teachers as "'rotten apples’ needing to be smashed by Silicon Valley millionaires with no experience in education.”



The activists delivered boxes of petitions to the magazine’s editors, asking them to apologize to teachers for the cover. The petitions –- initiated by the American Federation of Teachers -- had over 100,000 signatures, according to AFT President Randi Weingarten, who spoke at the event.

“A cover that suggests that teachers need to be smashed is dead wrong, and that’s why over 100,000 people have signed petitions in less than a week, saying and asking Time to apologize for its cover,” said Weingarten at the event. “Frankly, of those 102,000, over 11,000 are Time subscribers and over 64,000 are people that use Time magazine in schools.”

She continued, “And why is that important? Because in schools we’re trying to help teach kids how to have a respectful, civil discourse with others. So when they see a magazine with a cover that smashes teachers, what is that teaching kids?”


Randi Weingarten speaking in front of the Time magazine headquarters.

The AFT petition says the actual article associated with Time’s cover is less offensive. The article follows the efforts of California tech moguls who have successfully worked to derail the state’s teacher tenure process.

“The cover was unmistakable: teachers need to be smashed, and that tech millionaires had a way to do that, and that’s just dead wrong,” said Weingarten when speaking with reporters. “We said the article was by and large balanced; in fact the article suggests that what the Silicon Valley techies were doing wasn’t supported by evidence.”

In recent days, activists also worked to protest the cover through a #TIMEfail hashtag on Twitter and Facebook, and some have called on teachers to boycott the magazine.

Time has responded to the controversy in several ways, although these responses have fallen short of an apology. On Monday, Time.com published some of the varied responses to the cover online, including a response by Weingarten. They also made the article free for all readers on Wednesday, while it was previously behind a pay wall.

On Thursday afternoon –- just prior to the protest –- the magazine’s website published a letter from Nancy Gibbs, Time’s managing editor. In the letter, Gibbs says that the article has been mischaracterized.

“Union leaders … are charging that by writing about legal efforts to remove bad teachers from classrooms, with the cover line 'Rotten Apples,' TIME has insulted all teachers; some of them have launched protests and petition drives,” says the letter. “In fact, TIME has nothing but admiration for America’s dedicated teachers and their commitment to excellence.”

The letter continues, “Our mission is to spur discussion of important issues, and in the interest of an informed debate, I am making the story free for all readers on TIME.com … so everyone can judge for themselves.”

Time did not officially respond to the protest, however.

New York parent Natasha Capers told The Huffington Post that she thought the article failed to address the actual issues that plague education. Capers is a coordinator for the parent-led Coalition For Educational Justice, an organization that seeks to alleviate educational inequalities.

“I just feel like the story does not get to the heart of the real issue, like of what are the things that create educational inequity and the lack of resources in classrooms,” said Capers.

She continued, “No one would ever publish anything showing a fire fighter engulfed in flames or being smashed by a hammer, because it does not do anything to elevate the profession, and it’s just disrespectful.”

Categories: Political News and Opinion

HUFFPOST HILL - Bucolic Countryside Bike Rides America's Newest Enemy

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 58 min ago


Mitch McConnell told the Koch Brothers that "I don't know where we'd be without you," which was even more dramatic considering he was standing outside in the rain and yelling it at their window. Michael Jordan called the president a "shitty golfer," which is one step above being a "chickenshit golfer." And Ted Cruz bristled at Tim Cook's essay on being gay, though perhaps Cruz was expressing a deep-seated jealousy over not being able to come to terms with his own identity as a Canadian. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, October 30th, 2014:

MCCONNELL RELYING HEAVILY ON KOCHS - Paul Blumenthal: "In June, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) took a break from the campaign trail to address a conference held in Dana Point, California, for donors to the political network operated by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch. According to secret audio obtained by The Undercurrent, McConnell spoke to the wealthy crowd about his opposition to campaign finance reform and the latest efforts to increase the amount of money they could donate to campaigns. He was introduced by two employees of Koch Industries, Mark Holden and Kevin Gentry, who also happen to help run the Kochs' main political funding node, Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce. McConnell began his remarks by praising the two brothers. David Koch, at least, was in attendance. 'I want to start by thanking you, Charles and David, for the important work you’re doing,' McConnell said. 'I don’t know where we’d be without you.' At that point, Charles and David Koch, along with their families, had already donated the maximum amounts to McConnell's re-election campaign, which has faced a tough slog against Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D). But there is always more money to be raised from donors in the Koch orbit." [HuffPost]

Poors are people, too, my friend: "Mitt Romney accused President Barack Obama and his administration of failing low-income and minority Americans at a rally in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on Thursday, alongside South Dakota Senate candidate Mike Rounds, who appears to be coasting toward a victory in next week's midterm election. 'He hasn’t helped the poor, hasn’t helped the minorities,' Romney said of Obama, noting the record level of poverty and food stamp enrollments in the aftermath of the 2008 recession." [HuffPost]

Third quarter GDP growth clocked in at 3.5 percent, the government said.

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Is this lady riding a bicycle Paul LePage's Waterloo? Scott Malone: "Maine Governor Paul LePage vowed on Thursday to use the full extent of his authority in response to a nurse who has treated Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, after she left her home in Maine and took a bicycle ride despite a quarantine order." [Reuters]

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BUT TED CRUZ HAS LOTS OF GAY FRIENDS APPLE PRODUCTS - Maybe Democrats could have their own love-a-thon like the GOP did with Chick-fil-A and pose with iPads like a bunch of doofuses. Salon: "Texas senator and boastful homophobe Ted Cruz reacted to Apple CEO Tim Cook’s announcement that he is gay by calling Cook’s sexuality a 'personal decision.' Asked about Cook’s coming out on CNBC’s Squawk Box, Cruz parroted the right-wing talking point that sexual orientation is a personal choice. 'Those are his personal choices. I’ll tell you, I love my iPhone,' Cruz said. 'Listen, Tim Cook makes his personal decisions, and that is his life. My focus is on the constitutional question of who has the authority to make decisions,' he continued." [Salon]

Bobby Jindal tried to make "Barack Obama isn't intelligent" happen, but, then again, Bobby Jindal is a terrible national politician: "Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) attacked President Barack Obama's intelligence on Tuesday, claiming Obama deserves a tuition refund from Harvard since he didn't learn 'a darned thing while he was there.'... 'You see we have gotten so used to saying we have a constitutional scholar in the White House, we've gotten so used to saying we have a smart man as president. But I'm beginning to wonder if that's really true,' Jindal said, according to video posted by the Louisville Courier-Journal." [HuffPost's Igor Bobic]

PISS OFF GOP LEADERSHIP? CHECK. PISS OFF YOUR DISTRICT'S BIGGEST INDUSTRY? CHECK. GET REELECTED? CHECK - Behold the power of party affiliation, as evidenced by Tim Huelskamp: "Huelskamp's political difficulties began in 2013 when he was stripped of his spot on the Agriculture Committee for bucking his party's leadership...Then, in a move that was either incredibly brave or incredibly insane, Huelskamp cosponsored a bill that would phase out a law requiring gasoline to contain ethanol...Kansas' 1st District is the country's 11th-biggest producer of corn... But for all of Huelskamp's political liabilities, he'll likely prevail on Tuesday. National Democrats haven't expended any meaningful resources on [Democratic opponent Jim] Sherow's campaign. According to campaign filings with the FEC, Sherow has only a small fraction of Huelskamp's cash on hand, and his skeleton staff is working to coordinate a campaign in a district that is roughly the same size as Illinois." [HuffPost]

CHICKENSHIT UPDATE - Sam Stein: "Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday distanced himself from and sharply criticized the use of an epithet by an anonymous Obama administration official to attack Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Speaking at the Washington Ideas Forum, Kerry said the description of Netanyahu as 'chickenshit' was dramatically at odds with the prevailing viewpoint in the administration. 'We condemn anybody who uses language such as was used in this article,' he said. It's "disgraceful, unacceptable, damaging," he added. 'I never heard that word around me in the White House.'" [HuffPost]

LAND OF THE FREE AND HOME OF THE CHICKENSHITS - For other political putdowns, see Asshole, Major League. Sarah Harvard: "The reference to poultry feces is a time-honored insult in American politics...It all started when President Lyndon Johnson was put off by a banal question asked by a journalist attending an informal press gathering at the Oval Office...'You're talking to the commander-in-chief of the most powerful military in the world,' Johnson reportedly sneered, 'and you ask a chickenshit question like that?' ...A couple of decades later, 'chickenshit' returned to the spotlight at the height of the Gulf War during a clash between two politicians: Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) and President George H.W. Bush..."Who is this chickenshit?" the elder Bush snarled after being lampooned by Wellstone at a reception for new congressional members, Mother Jones reported." [HuffPost]

Flashback: The Eight Types Of Assholes In Washington.

TOM MENINO DIES, WAS WICKED GOOD MAYOR - He's like Boston's Rudy Giuliani, if New York liked Rudy Giuliani and didn't hold him in complete disdain after he left office. Globe: "An old-school politician whose own smarts owed more to the streets than the college classroom, Menino nonetheless helped turn Boston into a hub of 21st-century innovation, recruiting high-tech companies to the sprawling South Boston waterfront one minute, then cutting the ribbon at a neighborhood burrito shop the next. 'No man possessed a greater love for our city, and his dedicated life in service to Boston and her people changed the face of the city,' said his successor, Mayor Martin J. Walsh. 'With sheer determination and unmatched work ethic, he took a city that is not as big in size as we are in stature and put us on the world stage as a national leader in health care, education, innovation, and the nitty gritty of executing basic city services.'" [Boston Globe]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is "Gone Girl" ... but with cats.

PRESIDENT EMASCULATED - Avery Stone: "Well, it's safe to say there's someone Michael Jordan does not want to golf with. When Jordan discussed his ideal golf foursome with sportscaster Ahmad Rashad, he seemed into the idea of playing with President Barack Obama -- at first. 'I’ve never played with Obama,' Jordan said in a clip featured on Back9Network. 'But I would.' But then he dialed back his request, big time 'No, that’s OK," Jordan said. 'I’d take him out. He’s a hack ... I never said he wasn’t a great politician. I’m just saying he’s a shitty golfer.'" [HuffPost]

COMFORT FOOD

- A history of internet trolls.

- Ten hours of walking the streets of New York... as a man.

- T-Pain without autotune is amazing.

TWITTERAMA

@LOLGOP: Republicans have a chance of picking up 2 states Obama won and Democrats have a chance of picking up 3 states Romney won. #Wave


@delrayser: PSA: that hilarious iGay joke you're thinking of has been made already

@elisefoley: Here's a weird snapchat from Rand Paul's staff



Got something to add? Send tips/quotes/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to Eliot Nelson (eliot@huffingtonpost.com) or Arthur Delaney (arthur@huffingtonpost.com). Follow us on Twitter @HuffPostHill (twitter.com/HuffPostHill). Sign up here: http://huff.to/an2k2e


Categories: Political News and Opinion

DSCC's Final Ad In North Carolina Senate Race Accuses Thom Tillis Of Corruption

Huffington Post News - 2 hours 3 min ago

WASHINGTON -- The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee's closing argument in the North Carolina Senate race is a harsh attack on Republican nominee Thom Tillis. The group released a final television ad Thursday highlighting a 2012 scandal in which two former Tillis staffers engaged in inappropriate relationships with lobbyists.

The ad, shared exclusively with The Huffington Post, opens with local TV coverage of the controversy. "State House Speaker Thom Tillis is under fire again regarding his staff," an anchor says.

The narrator then recounts the story, in which it was discovered that Tillis' chief of staff had an affair with a lobbyist. Days later, one of his policy analysts was revealed to be having a similar affair.

"Tillis said he fired them -- he didn't," the narrator says. "Instead, Tillis let them resign with a nearly $20,000 payout funded by taxpayers."

Watch the ad above.

Democrats have used the controversy throughout the election cycle to levy charges of corruption against Tillis, who is looking to unseat Sen. Kay Hagan, the Democratic incumbent. Democratic super PACS cut similar ads earlier this year, prompting a response ad from Tillis' campaign insisting that he fired both staffers. Fact checkers have ruled that the Democrats' version of events is more accurate.

In a statement, DSCC spokesman Justin Barasky accused Tillis of rewarding his aides with "taxpayer funded golden parachutes" and lying to North Carolina voters about how he dealt with the scandal.

"Instead of looking out for North Carolina families, Speaker Tillis has a record of rewarding corruption at the expense of North Carolina families, and it’s clear he’s completely wrong for North Carolina," Barasky said.

A spokesman for Tillis' campaign did not immediately return a request for comment.

The ad, which will air statewide on broadcast and cable, is part of a $9.1 million ad buy the DSCC launched in North Carolina in August. Spending in the North Carolina Senate race, which is one of the most closely watched contests of the year, topped $100 million on Wednesday.

HuffPost's Pollster average, which combines all publicly available polling, currently shows Hagan leading Tillis by just one percentage point.

Categories: Political News and Opinion

Funeral for a Fake Out

Huffington Post News - 2 hours 3 min ago

I say we bury the b.s. called Domestic Violence Month, and here's why.

For the past five years I have been taking a look at where American women find themselves in areas ranging from domestic violence and rape to rates of incarceration and the pay gap. The project, now a documentary film presently in post-production called Equal Means Equal, was funded by over 2500 supporters on Kickstarter.*

A few days ago I was asked to speak in Ann Arbor at an event hosted by the University of Michigan to raise awareness about domestic violence and highlight SafeHouse, the local shelter.



The event brought together a broad cross-section of the Ann Arbor community to dialogue about a problem that is very much in their midst.



After the clip from our rough cut, Laurita Thomas (VP at the University of Michigan) asked people to turn around and share their thoughts with those behind them. Sadly, in the packed theater, there seemed to be none untouched. Behind me, a young female college student and an older woman, there with her husband, shared their personal experiences with violence and rape. There were counselors needed, on-hand and in the lobby, to help those for whom the film had triggered personal trauma. During the panel discussion, professors, lawyers, doctors and community leaders made the connections clear between the multiple issues that relate to domestic violence- from economic dependence and poverty to sexual assault, foster care and child sex-trafficking.



Although we've recognized domestic violence for the past 33 years as a problem big enough to merit its own full month of awareness, the deep cuts in funding to the 2013 Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, tell the true story of how committed the United States is to eradicating this gendered epidemic of violence.**

So what say we cut the b.s., take off the rose-colored "empowerment" glasses and look at the facts:

  • Domestic violence shelters are closing across the country. VAWA's reauthorization, spun as a big win, was a financial bloodbath. Desperately needed funding was cut drastically with no plan in place to help the displaced victims.


  • Close to 10,000 victims of domestic violence are turned away DAILY in the United States -- no money, no options, nowhere to go. [Remember now that these women are making between 42¢ (Latinas in L.A. County) and 88¢ (female employees at the White House) on the male dollar.]


  • Over 60 percent of victims go back to their abusers.


  • The United States has the highest domestic violence homicide rate in the industrialized world. Three women a day will die at the hands of their intimate partners.


  • The police respond to Domestic Violence calls with less urgency than other types of assault, such as stranger assault- this is completely at their discretion.


  • The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that the police are not obligated to respond to a domestic violence call where the woman has a restraining order against the abuser, nor do they have to enforce that order.


  • An international tribunal determined that the United States is violating the human rights of American women and girls in its failure to protect them from Domestic Violence.


  • Bottom line: If it isn't a war on women, why is our body count almost double that of the combined casualties of our latest two wars? Between 2001 and 2012 6,488 troops died in Iraq and Afghanistan while 11,686 women died at the hands of their abusers.


It's easy to blame the victims. It's easier still to blame the perpetrators -- the batterers, the abusers, the pimps. Yet we live in a society where it is perfectly respectable for ONE PERSON to have more money than an ENTIRE STATE full of people; a society whose idolatry of greed and ruthlessness in pursuit of the almighty dollar sets the clear example for the pimps and "paper chasers" who brand their 12-year-old "prostitutes" with CREAM (cash rules everything around me) across their foreheads and flay the skin off their bodies if they resist.



But before you rear back in horror at these "animals," how can we expect empathy, compassion and kindness from a population constantly beaten down and abused by its own country? Undereducated, if at all. Paid too little to survive, worked too hard to raise their children? When you start hearing about moms renting their daughters out to traffickers after school to put food on the table, as I have, you wonder why we don't start blaming the forces exerting such brutal economic pressure on the American family.

Since 1787, Uncle Sam has sat back and watched as American women have been beaten, raped and murdered regularly, underrepresented in every decision-making area of society, had their bodies co-opted by public politics and been paid less (or nothing) for doing most of the work.

Lately, Uncle Sam's henchmen on the Supreme Court have colluded with corporations to abuse American women as viciously as if they were throttling them and their children, ripping them off to the tune of TRILLIONS of dollars.

The United States itself is guilty of domestic abuse and until IT stops abusing us it will never really do what is necessary to stop others from doing it to us too. We may get special "months" or ribbons or a trinket here or there but we won't get equal pay or justice. And if that ain't domestic violence, I don't know what is.



*You can watch the trailer for the movie by clicking here:



**[Kind of like Women's History Month where we teach no women's history]

Categories: Political News and Opinion

Karmanos delivers new $6M natural birthing center at Beaumont Hospital in ... - The Oakland Press

Berkley Information from Google News - 2 hours 4 min ago


Karmanos delivers new $6M natural birthing center at Beaumont Hospital in ...
The Oakland Press
Ashley Raleigh, with son Jackson, 2, checks out one of the new high-end suites at the Karmanos Center for Natural Birth at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak. Raleigh, who is pregnant, is set to have her baby at the center which just opened. Michael P.
Karmanos Center for Natural Birth opens at Beaumont Hospital, Royal OakDigitalJournal.com

all 5 news articles »

Categories: Berkley Area News

Pet oxygen masks donated to Walled Lake, Farmington Hills and Southfield fire ... - The Oakland Press

Berkley Information from Google News - 2 hours 4 min ago


Pet oxygen masks donated to Walled Lake, Farmington Hills and Southfield fire ...
The Oakland Press
Suzette Swies, a representative of Invisible Fence Tri-County, visited the Southfield Fire Department on Oct. 14 with her dog Sammy to give Captain Tom Colombo four sets of pet oxygen masks. Photo submitted by Suzette Swies. Posted: 10/30/14, 9:53 AM ...

Categories: Berkley Area News

Southfield to celebrate completion of two public projects on Nov. 6 - The Oakland Press

Berkley Information from Google News - 2 hours 4 min ago


Southfield to celebrate completion of two public projects on Nov. 6
The Oakland Press
The City of Southfield is planning to celebrate two transportation projects in totaling nearly $4 million during a public dedication on Thursday, Nov. 6. The event will begin at 11 a.m. in the Northland Center Parking Lot G near the newly renovated ...

and more »

Categories: Berkley Area News

Man serves to bring tennis to Detroit - WDIV Detroit

Berkley Information from Google News - 2 hours 9 min ago


Man serves to bring tennis to Detroit
WDIV Detroit
WELL-KNOWN BABY FOODMAKER UNDER FIRE FOR MAKING BOGUS CLAIMS, WHY THE GOVERNMENT IS SUING GERBER. Mitch: I'M MITCH ALBOM. SO MANY PEOPLE LIVE AND GIVE EVERY DAY BUT ARE NEVER AS CELEBRATED AS A ...

Categories: Berkley Area News

Why Latinos Should Vote for the Democrats

Huffington Post News - 2 hours 19 min ago

In this election, Hispanics must support Democrats. It is not often in politics that people are given the choice between real, substantive contrasts. An attitude of "vote for the lesser of two evils" that permeates the American electorate has veiled many voters into believing that both the Democratic and Republican parties are two sides of the same coin. They are not. And Latinos know it.

While there are nuclei of both parties that will vote "D" or "R" because of emotional attachments, the fastest-growing group of voters in America are actually independents, fed up with the self-interested squabbling of mediocre politicians more interested in their own reelections than in leading the country.

Hispanic voters are primarily independents who have voted Democratic in several elections. The reasons for this preference are complex, and not just based in immigration reform. Rather, a preference for policies of social development, education investment, health access and social stability make it clear that a majority of Hispanics prefers the current version of the Democrats over the far-right wing, often extremist Republican Party.

Voters call my show every day to ask, "Who should I vote for?" I am consistent in my response: Vote for the Democrats. To be clear, I, too, am an independent. I have no party affinity, but rather a policy obsession. And the anti-Latino, hostile and aggressive Republican Party of the last decade does not merit Latino support.

Here are three reasons why I think Latinos should support Democrats in the upcoming elections:

1. The economy

President Reagan was very effective in convincing a generation of Americans that Democrats could not be trusted with the economy. "Tax and spend" and "liberal" became powerful markers in the GOP's successful framing of the Democrats as irresponsible stewards of the economy.

But we now know that since World War II, Democratic administrations have outperformed, both in terms of job creation and overall gross domestic product (GDP) growth, Republicans in every term. With the Democrats' pro-growth policies, there is a general lifting of all boats when a Democratic administration occupies the White House.

In contrast, the GOP must still cope with the President George W. Bush's legacy of economic disaster. His was the administration that took the Clinton budget surplus and converted it to a doubling of the national debt. The trickle-down economics fantasy was once again proven completely wrong -- leading to a hyper concentration of wealth at the top, slow job growth for middle class Americans and anemic GDP expansion. Add to it the Republican fetish for under-regulating industry, and Bush left America with the worst economy since President Herbert Hoover was chased out of Washington during the Great Depression.

Latinos should be aware that the various Republican blueprints for a GOP-controlled Congress are Bush polices warmed over -- and the result would be, predictably, another national economic and social horror show.

2. Immigration reform

Once you break through the clutter of emotions about President Obama's recent delay in taking executive action to ameliorate the collapsing immigration "system" in America, you are faced with a stark truth: Republicans have been sabotaging immigration reform since at least 2007, when Republicans in the Senate killed Bush's immigration reform bill.

More recently, in 2009, some 99 percent of all congressional Democrats supported Obama's immigration push, while 0 percent of Republicans stepped up to provide enough votes for a majority.

And in the last year, after the Democratic-controlled Senate passed a bipartisan immigration bill, Republican House Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) blocked every possible route to a vote. The bill languished, but still Republicans in the House were not content; they voted three times to deport the Dreamers.

Even the supposed Hispanic hope of the GOP, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), faced with Tea Party blowback that threatened his White House ambition, lobbied the House to reject the immigration bill that he had cosponsored and for which he voted.

This moment crystalized his betrayal of American Latinos and the immigration-reform cause that is one of their primary policy objectives.

3. Social stability

Even to American Latinos who were born in the U.S., the specter of the social instability that drove their parents and grandparents to migrate to the United States haunts the collective unconscious of the community. Whether it's Cubans with Fidel Castro nightmares, Colombians fleeing a savage civil war, or Mexicans who immigrated to escape brutal violence and squalor, the vision of the U.S. as a haven of stability is a shared ideal.

When Republicans engage in destructive maneuvers that hurt the whole country, Latinos are justifiably horrified. The very idea of Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-Texas) "government shutdown" is antithetical to Hispanics' desire for institutional stability. When Republicans on two occasions played chicken with the full faith and credit of the U.S. by threatening to block a vote on raising the debt ceiling, it seemed like the GOP was advocating for national suicide -- threatening the American and global economies in the name of one politician's personal glory.

There are many other reasons why Latinos should vote for Democrats in this cycle. The Big Lie rhetoric coming out of the mouth of Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), for example, accusing immigrants of being both Ebola virus carriers and part of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) sleeper cells, should be enough to motivate Latinos to vote against a party that permits such naked hostility -- and racism.

In the end, however, economic growth and shared prosperity; a rational, fair immigration system; and the promise of patriotic social stability are three central motivators for Latinos to vote for Democrats in November.

Latinos should send a message to Republicans: We won't support your failed policies, we won't abide by anti-Hispanic rhetoric, and we will always side with political forces that seek to build on the common good, not tear it down.

Categories: Political News and Opinion

Prison Food Scandal Pushed By Dem Group In Tight Michigan Governor's Race

Huffington Post News - 2 hours 23 min ago

Protesters took to the street outside the Detroit campaign office of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) Wednesday morning, staging a mock cook-off in response to allegations concerning the state's prison food service contract with an outside company.

The protest, organized by progressive activist group Michigan People's Campaign, stems from recent claims that Aramark, the corporation under contract to provide the state's prison food service, fired one of its employees after she brought attention to what she said were disturbing food safety practices -- including the serving of raw meat and food that had fallen onto the floor -- in the kitchens of a state correctional facility.

The worker, Amy McVay, filed a whistle-blower complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Association last week, as the Detroit Free-Press first reported.

Referencing those allegations, the cook-off featured a menu listing dishes such as "chili con larvae" and "dirt cake."

"This is the quality of the food Aramark provides," Michigan Peoples' Campaign spokesman Erik Shelley told The Huffington Post.

McVay's complaint is only the latest trouble Aramark has run into since beginning its three-year, $145 million Michigan prison contract on Dec. 3, 2013.

In August, the state fined Aramark $200,000 due to "unacceptable" problems with the company's performance and upped the monitoring of conditions, the Free-Press reported.

Prior to that, media reports outlined allegations of maggots being found in and near food Aramark served to inmates, and employees smuggling drugs and other contraband items to inmates, as well as workers engaging in sex acts with inmates. A murder-for-hire plot involving an Aramark employee has also been alleged. Over 100 Aramark workers in Michigan have been fired due to misconduct allegations, Bloomberg Businessweek reported.

Still, Gov. Snyder has declined to forfeit the Amtrak contract. His Democratic challenger, Mark Schauer, has repeatedly urged him to do so, saying the incumbent "continues to put the safety of state employees at risk and waste taxpayer dollars on a failed experiment in privatization." A number of state Democratic lawmakers have also called for the contract's cancelation and pushed for the state's contracting process to be overhauled, as a result of the scandal.

Democratic advocacy group Progress Michigan even used the Aramark allegations in an ad criticizing Snyder earlier this month:



In a statement to HuffPost, Aramark spokeswoman Karen Cutler called the Wednesday protest "yet another example in the long-running series of manufactured attacks against our company" and its Michigan employees. Cutler pointed out that the state and the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) already cleared Aramark of pest and unsanitary food allegations and canceled $98,000 in fines (unrelated to the $200,000 in fines from August).

Schauer has alleged that a Snyder aide played a role in the contractor's fee cancellation, the Free-Press reported.

"We respect our employees’ and our clients’ privacy and do not comment publicly about claims asserted by disgruntled former employees," Cutler said in an email to HuffPost. "However, we investigate every employee concern that is reported to us, including those alleged by former employees. We stand by our food safety record and our employees at the MDOC."

Philadelphia-based Aramark claims its contracts can help save cash-strapped governments and school districts millions of dollars without sacrificing quality, but that hasn't always been the case. Earlier this year, the company faced complaints of maggots being found in food the company's workers served in Ohio prisons. Food and staffing shortages were among the other contract violations that prompted Ohio to fine the company $142,000 in April.

At Chicago Public Schools, where the company holds both a food service and custodial contract, Aramark's work has been the subject of numerous complaints about cleanliness and safety, prompting Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to say last month that the company needed to "either live up to that contract and clean up the schools or they can clean out their desks and get out."

Categories: Political News and Opinion

With the Elections Coming to an End, It's Time for Executive Action

Huffington Post News - 2 hours 42 min ago

Our communities suffer every day from the ongoing lack of immigration reform. As the midterm elections draw near, the president's decision to delay executive action until after the mid-term continues to be a source of disillusion and disappointment to countless Latino voters who have undocumented family and friends. It was a miscalculation to delay action on immigration back in September, and it will continue to be a blight on the community's trust of the administration if, after November 4, President Obama does not act swiftly and use his authority to remedy the inaction of a gridlocked Congress.

Once Election Day has passed, the president will have few reasons not to act boldly on immigration. It's not as if the relevant authorities on the subject are unsure on whether President Obama ought to get working on fixing our broken immigration system. Just this week, the former head of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Janet Napolitano, urged President Obama to exercise his constitutional authority by taking executive action on immigration reform. "If Congress refuses to act and perform its duties, then I think it's appropriate for the executive to step in and use his authorities based on law . . . to take action in the immigration arena," Napolitano told The Washington Post.

Napolitano ought to know. Under her leadership, DHS successfully initiated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012. DACA, an executive action taken by Obama administration after previous efforts such as the DREAM Act had failed, allowed qualifying undocumented youth to apply for provisional work permits, temporary relief from deportation, and in most states driver's licenses so that they could stop living in constant fear of senseless deportation to a country they had never known, and instead begin pursuing their educational and career aspirations in the only home they had ever known -- America.

Now, in the wake of Congress' failure to fix a broken immigration system that the American public, the Chamber of Commerce, faith leaders, labor unions, farmers, and other sectors of civil society all want to see reformed, it is once again time for the president to take executive action and provide relief to the millions of people affected by our outdated and backward immigration policies.

It helps to take a brief look back at how we got to this point. The Senate's bipartisan immigration reform bill of 2013 would have offered legalization and a road to earned citizenship to at least eight million of the nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country. Were it not for the failure of the House Republican Leadership, similar legislation would have successfully passed through that chamber, and across the country people would be lining up to get in compliance with the law and fix their immigration status for good.

Mr. President -- you know, and we know, that action on immigration has to come soon. After Election Day, we expect to see action that is big and bold.

Categories: Political News and Opinion

Afghan Translator Whose Dad Was Killed By Taliban Desperate To Bring Family To U.S.

Huffington Post News - 2 hours 45 min ago

When Mohammad, 24, told his father that he was offered work as a translator with the U.S. military, his dad was thrilled. He felt this was the best way Mohammad could defend his country against the Taliban.

That decision ultimately cost Mohammad’s father his life. The Taliban killed the Afghan translator’s dad and kidnapped his younger brother, Mohammad said in a recent interview on "Last Week Tonight With John Oliver." Desperate to bring the rest of his endangered family to the U.S., Mohammad has now turned to a crowdfunding campaign since the U.S. government has failed to help him.

Mohammad is just one of tens of thousands of Afghans who risked their lives to accompany troops on dangerous patrols, find out about imminent attacks and warn them of planted improvised explosive devises (IEDs). Despite their sacrifices, thousands of these interpreters, who are now Taliban targets, can’t get U.S. visas because of the painstaking bureaucratic process, Oliver noted.

The Special Immigrant Visa (SIV), a program created by Congress for Afghans and Iraqis who worked with the U.S. during the wars, can only be obtained through a long-drawn-out process and has helped few Afghans, The Huffington Post reported last June. In 2011, for example, just three Afghans who worked with the U.S. military were given these special visas, Oliver said.

An estimated 80 percent of Afghan interpreters can’t get U.S. visas, Business Insider reported.

It took nearly three and a half years, but Mohammad -- who was shot at twice while serving between 2008 and 2012 -- finally made it to the U.S.

Even after completing the cumbersome process, Mohammad found that his identification cards read FNU Mohammad. "FNU" stands for first name unknown.

While Mohammad is now safe in the U.S., he can’t breathe easily just yet.

After the Taliban killed his father, Mohammad’s younger brother was kidnapped. He had to spend his life savings to pay the $35,000 ransom to get him back.

"My family got hurt because of me," he told Oliver. "I lost my dad because of me, because of my job."

The rest of Mohammad’s surviving relatives are currently in hiding and he's eager to bring them to the United States.

He hopes to raise $15,000 to pay for his family members' airfare.

Military experts are well aware of the dangers both translators, and their family members face, if left behind.

"We are abandoning Afghans who worked with U.S. troops to a certain death," Ronald Payne, founder of the Allied Freedom Project, which assists Afghans who are applying for an SIV, told HuffPost last year. "The Taliban are not going to show mercy."

Find out more about the campaign to help Mohammad's family and how you can get involved here.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Alison Lundergan Grimes May Have Found Mitch McConnell's Weak Spot

Huffington Post News - 2 hours 48 min ago

WASHINGTON -- With Alison Lundergan Grimes down in almost every poll in a tight race against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, her success may hinge on whether she can bring Paducah, a small city more than three hours west of Louisville, into her camp.

Paducah has long been a lynchpin in McConnell's simple but effective "west of Interstate 65" strategy. McConnell, who started his career as a political moderate, has pursued a campaign strategy that depends on winning over the counties west of I-65, the highway that bisects Kentucky from Louisville in the north to the Tennessee border in the south. McCracken County, which covers Paducah, didn't swing McConnell's way when he was first elected to the Senate in 1984. But the county soon fell into McConnell's column and has remained there ever since.

McConnell has relied on a Cold War-era uranium facility for the core of his support. The plant helped put Paducah on the map, and the town's identity has long been tied to it. Paducah called itself "The Atomic City" during the postwar years, and murals celebrating its 1950s heyday still line the town's floodwall along the Ohio River. By the mid-1980s, however, the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant had become a relic. As similar facilities were shuttered in other states, McConnell pitched himself as the one man who could work the Senate to keep the plant open.

This is the first campaign in which the plant could be a liability for him. After decades of decline, it finally shut down this year, when the last of its more than 1,000 operators were laid off.

In a recent campaign ad, Grimes used the Paducah plant as a backdrop. "You want to know the difference between Mitch McConnell and me?" she says directly into the camera. "Just look at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant ... He'd just show up at election time and say he'd saved the plant. Now it's shutting down anyway."

Grimes has visited the county at least eight times since launching her campaign, pounding away at Paducah's economic trouble. The city's 7.8 percent unemployment rate is above both the state and national rates, and was nearly 10 percent as recently as February. The old plant workers may be swayed by Grimes' message.

"They are taking a different view of the senior senator," said Jim Key, vice president of the local steelworkers union to which the plant workers belonged.

Paducah isn't a hotbed for hardline anti-government conservatism. Mayor Gayle Kaler praises McConnell for delivering federal dollars to her beleaguered town. McConnell's pitch to the town has relied on the same -- keeping the plant open with federal money, and helping to start a program that provides free health care to workers who had been poisoned working in the facility's hazardous conditions.

In 2013, The Huffington Post outlined how McConnell ignored the toxic conditions that hurt plant employees and polluted the surrounding wells and waterways. In her ad, Grimes cited the story in making a similar point. "Mitch did nothing about the radiation problems for over a decade while workers got sick," Grimes says in her ad.

McConnell actually went much further. The senator voted in 1988 to prevent sick workers from seeking legal redress for being poisoned. The McConnell campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Republicans know McConnell is vulnerable here. The status quo isn't good, and McConnell has been the senator for 30 years. So they're doing all they can to pin the town's economic doldrums on Obama, who is wildly unpopular in the state -- and to tie him to Grimes and any Democrat they can.

Voters are even getting mailers from multiple GOP-affiliated groups attempting to tie little-known state Rep. Gerald Watkins (D-McCracken) to Barack Obama. The flyer claimed "a vote for Gerald Watkins is a vote for Obamacare." The mailers can be seen here and here.

Watkins, who teaches at a community college, thinks the attempt to associate him with the president comes from a single meeting he had with then-Sen. Obama in 2006, after which he told a reporter he thought Obama was intelligent. Watkins told HuffPost that the flyer's Obamacare claim is "ridiculous." "It's a federal law," he said. "I'm at the state level."

Watkins thinks the plant's closure could be a problem for McConnell. "It could very well impact the election, because he's always championed the workers there and helped keep the plant open for all these years," he said.

At a recent visit to Paducah, Grimes brought former President Bill Clinton to stump on her behalf at a campaign event in the McCracken County High School gym. Principal Michael Ceglinski, who attended the event, said the transformation of his gym into a political pep rally was amazing, a temporary spark amid the plant layoffs that he said have affected the school.

Ceglinski said some of his students had to leave the school when their parents were laid off and had to move away. "Some of my closest friends have lost their jobs there, and you struggle with them," he said. "You hurt for them and their families. You go through it emotionally."

The battle for Paducah may hinge not on Grimes' economic message but on the city's nostalgia for Clinton's economic record. Democrats have cited Clinton's appearance on the campaign trail as a key factor in whatever success Grimes may have in her own "west of I-65" strategy. Clinton, who carried Kentucky twice, is one of the most popular political figures in the state. Even Paducah's Republican mayor admitted to admiring Clinton.

"He was actually a good president," Kaler said. "Our economy was going good when he was president ... Actually wish we had more people in government like him."

Categories: Political News and Opinion

What Is Wrong With President Obama? Is This How He Leads His White House?

Huffington Post News - 2 hours 49 min ago

Yesterday we learned that anonymous White House officials called Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu a coward and that he is chicken**** to a reporter from The Atlantic.

And today? More anonymous White House officials and this time they insult Secretary of State John Kerry:

"...Mr. Kerry is vocal and forceful in internal debates, officials said, but he frequently gets out of sync with the White House in his public statements. White House officials joke that he is like the astronaut played by Sandra Bullock in the movie 'Gravity,' somersaulting through space, untethered to the White House..." (CLICK HERE to read the rest of the New York Times article)

Besides the obvious -- that both Prime Minister Netanyahu and Secretary John Kerry happen to have more experience than President Obama -- these two incidents show President Obama is showing no leadership in the Oval Office. This is HIS staff. Has he no control of them? Or is this a message he covertly sends down from the top since we know he trashed PM Netanyahu on a hot mike in November 2011?

How can President Obama's staff possibly think it is okay to publicly and anonymously insult Prime Minister Netanyahu and Secretary Kerry without a 'nod and wink' that this is acceptable? And if they are freelancing, are these White House officials THAT arrogant that they think they are so damn smart? They sure are cowards -- they do drive-by ambushes of leaders anonymously.

And yes, of course President Obama can figure out who is doing this (assuming he is not part of this conspiracy to trash these two leaders). He can then fire them. Will he show leadership INSIDE the White House?

Cross-posted from GretaWire.

Categories: Political News and Opinion