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Supporters Of Senate Iran Bill Swatting Away Amendments

Huffington Post News - 18 min 41 sec ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate proponents of a bill empowering Congress to review and potentially reject any Iran nuclear deal must first win a battle with some colleagues determined to change the legislation in ways that could sink it.

"Anybody who monkeys with this bill is going to run into a buzz saw," Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina warned ahead of this week's debate. The high-profile debate comes as negotiators from the U.S. and five other nations are rushing to finalize, by the end of June, an agreement requiring Iran to curb its nuclear program in exchange for relief from sanctions choking its economy.

Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart plan to meet Monday for the first time since they laid out the framework for a nuclear deal earlier this month. The State Department said Kerry and Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif would meet at the United Nations on the sidelines of a conference on the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Another member of Congress trying to discourage any changes in the bill was Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, who urged senators to stick with the plan as it emerged from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The bill was approved, 19-0, by the Senate committee has 62 co-sponsors from both parties.

Some lawmakers, however, want changes that could cost them the support of President Barack Obama, who grudgingly backed the measure, and his fellow Democrats.

If there is a final deal with Iran, Obama can use his executive authority to ease some sanctions on his own and work with the European Union and the United Nations to lift others. Obama also can waive sanctions that Congress has imposed on Iran, but he cannot formally lift them.

The bill would block Obama from waiving congressional sanctions for at least 30 days while lawmakers weigh in.

If 60 senators vote to disapprove of the deal, Obama would lose his waiver power altogether. The president is betting he will not.

If Congress disapproves, the president will almost respond with a veto. As long as he can get more than one-third of the Senate to side with him, he can prevent his veto from being overridden.

Backers of the bill are trying to keep lawmakers focused on how it would give Congress a say on a critical national security issue. They say the measure is not meant to be about how Iran increasingly is wielding influence in the Middle East, its support of terrorist groups or human rights violations. They worry that adding too many divisive amendments would cause Democrats to drop their support.

Even so, some senators are proposing amendments to pressure Iran to end its support of such groups, stop threatening to destroy Israel and recognize its right to exist, and release U.S. citizens held in Iran.

Other amendments would prevent sanctions relief if Iran cooperates with nuclear-armed North Korea or until international nuclear inspectors are guaranteed access to Iranian military sites.

GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, a presidential candidate, has an amendment with Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., that would require Congress to sign off on any final nuclear deal, not just disapprove of it. An amendment from Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., would make any deal a treaty, thus needing to be ratified by two-thirds of the Senate.

"The president should have to get 67 votes for a major nuclear arms agreement with an outlaw regime," said Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.

Cotton wants to lower the number of votes needed to reject a deal from 60 to 51. That means opponents of any deal would only need Republican votes to sink it.

He also wants to see amendments requiring that Congress be notified of any violations of an agreement, not just ones that are legally defined as material breaches.

A third set of amendments would prevent sanctions relief until they meet goals the U.S. established at the beginning of the negotiations. Critics of the talks claim the administration has backtracked and agreed to too many concessions for Iran.

Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the committee chairman and a co-author of the bill, said he too would like to see Iran change its behavior and he wants any final deal to be a good one that will prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. But he said that's not what the bill is about.

"This bill is about the process," Corker said. "It's not a bill about the content of any deal, and hopefully, that's how the bill will remain."


AP Diplomatic Writer Matthew Lee contributed to this report.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

In Rare Remarks, George W. Bush Argues Against The Lifting Of Iran Sanctions -

Huffington Post News - 21 min 17 sec ago

LAS VEGAS — Former President George W. Bush said the United States must show that it can follow through on its promises, and argued against the lifting of sanctions against Iran during rare remarks about foreign policy in a meeting with hundreds of Jewish donors here Saturday night.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Gay Businessman Ian Reisner Apologizes For Hosting Ted Cruz Event

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 14 sec ago

WASHINGTON -- Ian Reisner, a gay businessman who hosted an event for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in New York this week, apologized on Sunday after furious backlash from the gay community.

Reisner and his longtime partner Mati Weiderpass hosted a "fireside chat" with the presidential candidate, who reportedly softened his notoriously anti-gay tone at the event by claiming that, if one of his daughters were gay, "I would love them just as much.” News of Cruz's appearance prompted a boycott of the two men's businesses.

In a statement posted to his Facebook page on Sunday, Reisner sought forgiveness for his "poor judgement," explaining that he did not do his homework on Cruz's record on marriage equality before agreeing to host the event.

"I am shaken to my bones by the e-mails, texts, postings and phone calls of the past few days. I made a terrible mistake. I was ignorant, naive and much too quick in accepting a request to co-host a dinner with Cruz at my home without taking the time to completely understand all of his positions on gay rights," he said.

"I've spent the past 24 hours reviewing videos of Cruz' statements on gay marriage and I am shocked and angry. I sincerely apologize for hurting the gay community and so many of our friends, family, allies, customers and employees. I will try my best to make up for my poor judgement. Again, I am deeply sorry," he added.

Weiderpass posted a photo of Cruz in his home Wednesday night on his Facebook page.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Historic Cooper Union's Future Depends On Attorney General Investigation

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 8 min ago

NEW YORK (AP) -- First came a hotly-debated decision by Cooper Union to start charging its students after being tuition-free for generations.

Then came an investigation by the state attorney general into the school's management of its finances.

Over the past year, Cooper Union's reputation as a world-class training ground for engineers, architects and artists has taken a back seat to headlines about the investigation, a lawsuit over the imposition of tuition and the future of its president.

Some Cooper graduates and students hope all the turmoil results in more financial stability and maybe even a return to the tuition-free model that has been central to the school's unique, egalitarian character.

"We know that students have had to refuse our offer because they couldn't afford it," said Mike Essl, a Cooper Union alumnus and faculty member who is a plaintiff in the lawsuit over the decision to charge tuition starting with this year's freshman class. "That has never happened before in the history of Cooper Union."

The attorney general's investigation includes a look into the management of Cooper Union's prime asset, the land under the Chrysler Building.

Investigators are also questioning a $175 million loan, with the landmark skyscraper as collateral, used by Cooper trustees to finance a new engineering building.

With an endowment of $735 million, Cooper Union is not in imminent danger of failing. But a leveling-off of rents from the Chrysler Building in the early 1990s triggered massive budget deficits, according to a report from Cooper Union President Jamshed Bharucha a few weeks ago.

According to the report, the accumulated deficits from fiscal year 1990 to fiscal year 2012 topped $300 million. Bharucha said the tuition-free model he inherited when he took over as president in 2011 was not sustainable "without a disruptive intervention."

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is seeking to mediate the lawsuit and will reportedly push for a review of whether the school can go back to being tuition-free.

"We're cooperating fully with the attorney general's office," said Cooper Union spokesman Justin Harmon, who refused to comment on a report that the trustees offered not to renew Bharucha's contract if it would help end the investigation.

Many alumni and students feel that luxuries like the new building and Bharucha's $650,000 salary are at odds with Cooper Union's history as a no-frills haven for strivers.

"Cooper never had the best facilities, the most high-end equipment, but they always had the smartest people," said Devora Najjar, a junior studying chemical engineering who is the student representative to the board of trustees. "You make do with what you have."

The school's rich history rivals the traditions of better-known colleges with sprawling campuses and football teams.

Cooper Union was founded in 1859 by industrialist Peter Cooper to give talented young people a good education that was "open and free to all." Discrimination based on ethnicity, religion, or sex was prohibited.

Abraham Lincoln gave his famous "right makes might" anti-slavery speech at Cooper Union in 1860, Thomas Edison took classes there and the NAACP held its first public meeting there in 1909. More recently, President Barack Obama spoke there in 2010.

From the earliest days, classes were offered at no charge to students from working-class families. A 1902 gift from industrialist Andrew Carnegie allowed Cooper Union to sustain that model, keeping it tuition-free as other colleges' price tags outpaced inflation.

"My parents saved no money for college," said Essl, who graduated in 1996. "For me to go to art school was a risky proposition. ... Getting into Cooper Union gave me permission to study art."

Adrian Jovanovic, a 1989 engineering graduate, said Cooper Union "afforded me an opportunity to attend an elite university that would have been exceedingly difficult for my parents to afford or contribute to."

Cooper Union officials say the school is still affordable thanks to generous financial aid. Harmon, the spokesman, said this year's freshman class paid an average of $6,931 for the academic year, an 82.5 percent discount from the list price of $39,600.

Critics say there's a difference between cheap and free.

Kevin Slavin, a game designer and MIT faculty member who is an alumni representative to Cooper Union's board of trustees, said the fact that nobody paid made Cooper Union a meritocracy where everyone was seen as equal.

"There was a question in the discussions around tuition as to why should people who have the money be carried," Slavin said. "The answer is to remove money from the equation. You look around yourself when you're there and you only see yourself in essentially intellectual terms."

Some say Cooper Union has lost some of what made it special.

"The tuition-free model wasn't just about giving kids a free ride," said State Sen. Brad Hoylman, whose Manhattan district includes Cooper Union. "It was about awarding scholarships to outstanding students around the world and making Cooper Union a magnet for the best and the brightest."

Hoylman said he hopes new leadership at Cooper can "right the ship" and rescind the tuition decision.

Rob Franek, the senior vice president of the Princeton Review, which listed Cooper Union No. 1 in its "Colleges That Pay You Back" guide, said he is aware of Cooper's recent turmoil but the school remains highly selective and sought-after.

"In our opinion it remains a remarkable place academically," Franek said. "I don't see that changing but we will continue to watch over the next year."

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Re-Claiming a Moral Profession in Unethical Times

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 38 min ago

A bitter irony unfolded in New York's budget process this year as Governor Cuomo, in his allegiance to hedge fund campaign contributors, managed to push through ethics reforms alongside an education reform package that stands as the most unethical affront to public education in recent memory.

The Governor openly shirked his constitutional obligation to provide equitable school funding as set forth by the Campaign for Fiscal Equity v. State of New York ruling. The $1.4 billion increase is short of the $2 billion recommended by the NY Board of Regents and well short of the $5.6 billion cited by the Campaign for Education Equity as necessary for constitutional compliance. The Campaign for Education Equity has written a scathing rebuke of the 2015-2016 state education budget:

Among the egregious violations of constitutional requirements that the 2015-16 state budget perpetuates are the following: It continues to defer full foundation funding for the costs of a sound basic education; it reverts to the notorious "shares agreement" for funding New York City schools; it continues the unconstitutional gap elimination adjustment; it revives the teacher evaluation penalty provision that threatens essential school aid; and it fails to provide appropriate funding for pre-K.

The governor's decision to emphasize test scores in teacher evaluation presents a glaring disincentive for teachers working in schools with high concentrations of students who have historically performed poorly on standardized tests including students living in poverty, English language learners, and students with disabilities. The Governor is denying equitable funding to the most under-resourced schools while bending school policies toward test preparation and away from enriching curriculum. Schools already struggling are being set up for charter school takeover, an outcome actively pursued by the governor's most notable campaign contributors.

The governor's political process set a new standard for evading democracy. Eleanor Randolph of the New York Times referred to the final budget negotiations as "New York's All Male Oligarchy." Randolph was criticizing the antiquated "three men in a room" culture in Albany, but just as accurately could have been referring to the oligarchy of hedge fund managers responsible for financing and overseeing the Governor's education policies from start to finish.

A Quinnipiac University survey conducted during the budget negotiations measured the governor's approval rating for handling education policies at 28 percent (approval) to 68 percent (disapproval). Despite staunch opposition from parents, teachers, principals, and superintendents, the governor's policies emerged from budget negotiations virtually intact. The concessions made by the state legislators diverged so significantly from the will of their constituencies that they made a mockery of representative government.

Given their omnipresent role in education legislation, Governor Cuomo has positioned hedge fund managers as the new stewards of public education. Will hedge fund managers, with their vision for a profitable public education market, foster policies that provide quality, equitable education for students?

The greatest education reforms of our time have been born when society is galvanized by questions of moral importance, not business efficiency. What is the role of public education in a democratic society? Is "separate but equal" a justifiable doctrine for public education? How can we ensure equitable education for all?

Teaching is an innately moral profession. Teachers carry an incredible burden in making ethical decisions on a moment-to-moment basis in schools. One year ago, two of my colleagues and I formally refused to administer the Common Core state tests as an act of conscience. We articulated our belief that market-based reforms threatened public education and undermined our pedagogies. Since that time, teachers in New York and across the country have taken similar stances in what has come to be known as the Teachers of Conscience movement. Public school parents have similarly taken a moral stand to preserve public education by mounting a historic campaign of civil disobedience in the form of the national Opt-Out movement.

In these dire times of unethical decision making by policy makers, it is important that teachers remain grounded in moral principles that have proven timeless in preserving the purpose and promise of public education. It has been painfully evident that our own unions have struggled to find that moral footing across the last decade of market-based reforms as union leadership has settled for political maneuvering rather than unwavering principle.

In 1990, Kenneth S. Goodman wrote "A Declaration of Professional Conscience For Teachers" as a way of establishing some measure of ethics for the teaching profession. His writing is as relevant today as it was 25 years ago. I would like to honor and expand upon Goodman's vision by proposing "An Ethic for Teachers of Conscience in Public Education." It is one way to differentiate our work from the political gamesmanship and corporate greed that has enveloped our profession for far too long. This is a working document, open to debate and amendment, but it is a conversation on ethics in public education that is long overdue. I welcome public comment on this set of ethics. It is my hope that teachers can continue to shape these ethics, paving a way for their general adoption.

An Ethic for Teachers of Conscience in Public Education

A moral imperative to attend to the development and well-being of our students

  • We develop strong relationships with students and their families, built on mutual respect and trust. We respect the abilities, cultural identities, languages, and values that our students come to us with.

  • We devote ourselves to fostering the cognitive, academic, social, emotional, and physical development of our students.

  • We foster students' inherent desire to learn and help to develop the skills and dispositions necessary for lifelong learning and effective community and civic engagement.

  • We support students in developing their creative potential and offer robust experiences with the arts.

  • The welfare of students in our schools is paramount. We protect students from violence and all forms of mistreatment, abuse, and exploitation.

  • We work against discrimination and and injustices that affect students and that are present within our educational institutions.

A moral imperative to know our students well and understand their learning

  • We give our students opportunities to present and reflect on their learning through multiple modalities.

  • We use multiple methods of assessment to know students well and to understand their learning.

  • We are discerning when considering the biases, reliability, and validity of assessment methods and in evaluating the information that those methods reveal.

  • We require assessments to be transparent and to have a direct application to teaching and curriculum development.

  • We do not generalize or make high-stakes decisions based on a single method of assessment.

  • We do not define students, or encourage students to define themselves, by their assessment results.

  • We do not carry out assessments with the primary purpose of ranking and sorting students or bestowing statuses upon students.

A moral imperative to serve our communities

  • We will welcome and teach all children without prejudice -- regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, language, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation, or citizenship.

  • We value diversity in our public school communities and believe that integrated schools are fundamental to an integrated society.

  • We believe that teaching students to understand and value diversity contributes to a viable democracy.

  • We consider public schools to be a part of the commons. We will work to make our schools spaces that support the learning, health, and the democratic participation of our local communities.

A moral imperative to promote learning in service of the public good

  • We teach students literacy and the fundamental skills necessary to advance learning and pursue their full potentials.

  • We teach students to think critically and problem solve.

  • We teach students to apply their learning to issues of social justice.

  • We teach students to work collaboratively toward a common purpose.

  • We teach students to be stewards of the natural world around them.

  • We teach students civic engagement and democratic values.

  • We teach students social ethics and how to work through conflict constructively.

  • We are committed to our own development as teachers, including but not limited to trainings, coursework, observations and exchanges, descriptive reviews, and teacher-led inquiry and research.

A moral imperative to preserve public education

  • We believe that students have the right to equitable resources through public funding.

  • We believe that public education must remain democratically governed and in service of the public good, not private interests or for-profit businesses.

  • We believe that policies that divert public funding to privatized alternatives to public schools, undermine the purpose and potential of public education.

  • We believe that public schools must remain accountable to institutions that are publicly controlled and democratically governed, including parent associations, school leadership teams, school boards, and local, state, and federal governments.

  • We believe that public agencies and governing bodies must conduct their business transparently, maintain public records, and seek ways to involve the public in decision-making processes.

  • We believe that the implementation of standards, assessment systems, curriculum materials, and teaching programs must be done in consultation with teachers and democratic governing bodies. Implementation must not be driven by private profit or through the decision making processes of private entities.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

For Greater Europe We Must Embrace People-To-People Cooperation

Huffington Post News - 2 hours 48 min ago

We can only watch with sadness the effects of the last few years brought on by confrontation. In 2003, as ministers of foreign affairs, we were at the forefront of the common initiatives between Germany, France and Russia to create a new spirit of dialogue and understanding. We saw the reunification of the European continent after 2004 as a chance to develop new and stronger ties between Europe and Russia because of their shared histories, cultures and needs. Let's be clear: Hopes are now shattered.

The crisis in Ukraine is a common challenge for Russia and Europe because we see the terrible effects of warfare in Europe again, with over 5,000 victims in Ukraine already. It is a common challenge because there are many risks to see a failing state in the middle of Europe -- one in need of financial aid beyond reach either of Russia or of Europe. We need to keep on the track of diplomacy, however hard and however frustrating it can be. We must continue with the 'Normandy format'. We must continue to work on a day-to-day basis on the Minsk II agreements. But we also need to be conscious of one truth: There will be no fast solution in Ukraine.

This is all the more dramatic as the ongoing crisis in Ukraine has raised many questions not only about the fate of the Ukrainian state, but also about the future of international cooperation mechanisms in the Euro-Atlantic space.

In the security domain, the Russia-NATO dialogue about a common security space has been stalled. Instead, NATO announced plans to deploy new military infrastructure in Central Europe. Russia, in turn, proceeded with a large-scale rearmament program.

The trade and investment between Russia and EU that looked so dynamic and promising only two years ago are clearly running out of steam. The negative impact of an unfortunate "war of sanctions" between Moscow and Brussels is not limited to specific businesses on both sides. It also undermines mutual trust, curtails long-term development projects, and casts a shadow over the bold vision of a common market stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok.

The information media confrontation between the East and the West has reached an unprecedented scale. "Experts" on both sides make full use of the old Cold War rhetoric. Mutual suspicions, misperceptions and even outright lies become a common feature of our life, like it was 30 or 40 years ago. There is the will among some to use sanctions as a tool for regime change, repeating again the mistakes of the past and the misconceptions of the national feelings.

Under the circumstances, it is hardly surprising that both in Russia and in Europe, there is now talk about the second Cold War. The Greater Europe project, which many politicians, experts and opinion makers from many European countries have been trying to promote since mid-1980s, now looks like a fantasy completely detached from reality. Neither Russia nor Europe can afford a new "Cold War."

Indeed, the situation in Europe today does give too many arguments to pessimists. The future of Greater Europe is unclear and murky, to say the least. The crisis in Ukraine has almost completely erased this vision from agendas of politicians and analysts in the East and the West of our continent. And those who do not want to give up on Greater Europe should review and revise their approaches in light of the Ukrainian crisis. One of the realistic, albeit ambitious, priorities today may be to promote the common European or even Euro-Atlantic humanitarian space of civil societies. Though security, economic and humanitarian social dimensions of European politics are interconnected and interdependent, it is the people-to-people dimension that should receive special attention in the times of trouble.

A key characteristic of the people-to-people cooperation is in its multifaceted, extremely diverse and complex nature. This cooperation includes a whole universe of directions and engaged actors, formats and levels, communities and networks. The "fabric" of humanitarian ties between the people might look thin and fragile, but it often proves to be much more "crisis-resistant" than security or even economic interaction.

Over the last 10 years, civil society humanitarian cooperation emerged as one of the most successful and least controversial areas of EU-Russia cooperation. Its institutional framework was set back in 2003, when Moscow and Brussels constituted the Common Space of research and education, including the cultural cooperation as well. Over last 10 years, we've seen thousands and thousands of innovative projects uniting students and scholars, civil society leaders and journalists, artists and intellectuals from Russia and Europe. These contacts have gone far beyond Moscow and Brussels, engaging participants from remote regions, small provincial towns and rural areas. Moreover, this kind of humanitarian cooperation has proved to be unquestionably beneficial to both sides.

The crisis in and around Ukraine pushed the issue of humanitarian cooperation to the sidelines of political discussions. Experts and politicians on both sides seem to be preoccupied with other more urgent and more critical matters. One can conclude that during these hard times with all the risks and uncertainties involved, it makes sense to put matters of humanitarian cooperation on a shelf, until the moment when the overall political situation becomes more favorable for such cooperation. We believe that such a "wait and see" approach would be a strategic mistake. It is exactly in the period of a deep political crisis when interaction in education, culture and civil society should be given a top priority.

The Ukrainian crisis is not a compelling reason for us to abandon the strategic goal of building a common European and Euro-Atlantic humanitarian space. Of course, the crisis made this goal much harder to achieve, but it did not change the fundamentals. Russia is a country of the European culture. It belongs to the European civilization, and its science, education and its civil society institutions gravitate to Europe more than to any other region of the world. A common humanitarian space is not a pipe-dream. It remains a natural point of destination for the West and the East of our continent. However, keeping the strategic goal in mind, we should also think about damage limitation, about how to mitigate the negative impact of the Ukrainian crisis on the fabric of the humanitarian cooperation between Russia and Europe. Two urgent tasks appear to be of particular importance in the midst of the crisis.

First, it is necessary to protect the ongoing people-to-people cooperation from becoming yet another bargaining chip in the game of sanctions and counter-sanctions. To the extent possible, the people-to-people dimension of the EU-Russia relations should be insulated from the negative developments in security, political and economic dimensions.

Second, this humanitarian cooperation should be used to counter inflammatory rhetoric, projection of oversimplified and false images, and spread of Manichean black and white views on European politics, which we see emerging both in the East and in the West. We should not have any illusions: If the current trends in public moods in Russia and in EU are not reversed, it would be extremely difficult to restore our relations, even when the Ukrainian crisis is resolved.

There are many specific actions needed to accomplish these tasks. We should try to promote "success stories" in Russia-Europe humanitarian cooperation between civil societies, which we have accumulated plenty in various fields. We should oppose any attempts to tighten the visa regime between Russia and EU. We should encourage more contacts between Russian and EU regions, sister-cities and municipalities, including trans-border contacts. We should invest heavily into youth exchanges, school children and students mobility. We should upgrade cooperation between Russian and European independent think tanks and research centers. We should broaden existing channels for a range of participants to EU-Russia NGO interaction, making sure that this interaction is not monopolized by any particular group of institutions with their specific political agendas. We should explore new ways to make cultural diplomacy between the East and the West of Europe more efficient. We should pay special attention to building more contacts between Russia and EU media. We should investigate opportunities associated with cultural tourism.

The list of immediate actions can be continued. These actions might look less spectacular than a highly publicized security agreement or a multi-billion euro energy deal. But we should never forget that, at the end of the day, relations between Russia and the West are not limited to contacts between state leaders, diplomats, uniformed men or even between business tycoons. These relations are mostly about ordinary people -- their fears and hopes, frustrations and expectations, and their day-to-day lives and plans for the future.

Without the human factor involved, nothing else is likely to work. But we would like to propose one action that can be taken immediately, one action that could be a symbol of determination and of hope, one action toward the youth of Europe and Russia. In the same way as France and Germany reconciled with the Elysee Treaty in 1963 by creating a common agency for the youth, we would like to see the premises of a Russian-European reconciliation through the creation of a Russian-European Youth Agency based on student exchanges, fellowships for entrepreneurial and innovative initiatives, support for language training, and many other actions.

This post originally appeared on Le Monde and was translated into English.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Bookstock 2015 kicks off in Livonia - WDIV Detroit

Berkley Information from Google News - 3 hours 25 sec ago

WDIV Detroit

Bookstock 2015 kicks off in Livonia
WDIV Detroit
Bookstock is the biggest used book sale in the Detroit area. About 100,000 used books, music and lots of other goodies are on sale for discount rates, and it's all for a great cause. Show Transcript Hide Transcript. ACCOMMODATIONS TO TRY AND HELP ...

Categories: Berkley Area News

This Year's May Day Rallies Continue Tradition of Protests for Workers Rights

Huffington Post News - 3 hours 9 min ago

(Left) Union members, immigrants, and many others participate in the May Day march and rally in Los Angeles in 2013. (Right) Garment workers and activists participate in a May Day rally in Dhaka, Bangladesh last year.

Unlike the rest of the world's democracies, the United States doesn't use the metric system, doesn't require employers to provide workers with paid vacations, hasn't abolished the death penalty and doesn't celebrate May Day as an official national holiday.

But outside the U.S., May 1 is international workers' day, observed with speeches, rallies and demonstrations. This year, millions of workers in Europe, Asia and Latin America will be taking to the streets to demand higher wages, better benefits and improved working conditions. In Bangladesh, for example, protestors will be in the streets to demand that global companies like Walmart improve safety standards in local sweatshops, which have become death traps.

In San Francisco and Oakland, the local chapter of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union has vowed to shut down the two ports next Friday, May 1, to protest police brutality. In a statement, the union said, "It is fitting that on May Day, International Workers Day, Bay Area ports will be shut down to protest the racist police killing of mainly black and brown people." In 2008, the same union chapter shut down Pacific Coast ports to demand an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This year, May Day arrives amid a growing protest movement against police abuses in cities around the country. Not surprisingly, many May Day rallies will focus attention on this issue to link demands for civil rights, immigrants' rights, and workers' rights. The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor is sponsoring a May Day rally at Dragon's Gate in Chinatown, calling for a $15 an hour wage, justice in communities of color, and no more delays for DACA/DAPA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents).

Ironically, the May Day celebration of working-class solidarity was started by the U.S. labor movement and soon spread around the world, but it has never earned official recognition in this country.

Progressives around the country, working on a variety of issues, have embraced the new May Day movement. It isn't just about workers rights on the job, or immigrant rights, or civil rights, or even about raising the standard of living for all workers. It's about what kind of country we want to be.

The original May Day was born of the movement for an eight-hour workday. After the Civil War, unregulated capitalism ran rampant in America. It was the Gilded Age, a time of merger mania, increasing concentration of wealth and growing political influence by corporate power brokers known as Robber Barons. New technologies made possible new industries, which generated great riches for the fortunate few, but at the expense of workers, many of them immigrants, who worked long hours, under dangerous conditions, for little pay.

As the gap between the rich and other Americans widened dramatically, workers began to resist in a variety of ways. The first major wave of labor unions pushed employers to limit the workday to 10, then eight, hours. The 1877 strike by tens of thousands of railroad, factory and mine workers -- which shut down the nation's major industries and was brutally suppressed by the corporations and their friends in government -- was the first of many mass actions to demand living wages and humane working conditions. By 1884, the campaign had gained enough momentum that the predecessor to the American Federation of Labor adopted a resolution at its annual meeting, "that eight hours shall constitute legal day's labor from and after May 1, 1886."

On the appointed date, unions and radical groups orchestrated strikes and large-scale demonstrations in cities across the country. More than 500,000 workers went on strike or marched in solidarity and many more people protested in the streets. In Chicago, a labor stronghold, at least 30,000 workers struck. Rallies and parades across the city more than doubled that number, and the May 1 demonstrations continued for several days. The protests were mostly nonviolent, but they included skirmishes with strikebreakers, company-hired thugs and police.

On May 3, at a rally outside the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company factory, police fired on the crowd, killing at least two workers. The next day, at a rally at Haymarket Square to protest the shootings, police moved in to clear the crowd. Someone threw a bomb at the police, killing at least one officer. Another seven policemen were killed during the ensuing riot, and police gunfire killed at least four protesters and injured many others.

After a controversial investigation, seven anarchists were sentenced to death for murder, while another was sentenced to 15 years in prison. The anarchists won global notoriety, being seen as martyrs by many radicals and reformers, who viewed the trial and executions as politically motivated.

Within a few years, unions and radical groups around the world had established May Day as an international holiday to commemorate the Haymarket martyrs and continue the struggle for the eight-hour day, workers' rights and social justice.

In the United States, however, the burgeoning Knights of Labor, uneasy with May Day's connection to anarchists and other radicals, adopted another day to celebrate workers' rights. In 1887, Oregon was the first state to make Labor Day an official holiday, celebrated in September. Other states soon followed. Unions sponsored parades to celebrate Labor Day, but such one-day festivities didn't make corporations any more willing to grant workers decent conditions. To make their voices heard, workers had to resort to massive strikes, typically put down with brutal violence by government troops.

In 1894, the American Railway Union, led by Eugene Debs, went on strike against the Pullman Palace Car Company to demand lower rents (Pullman was a company town that owned its employees' homes) and higher pay following huge layoffs and wage cuts. In solidarity with the Pullman workers, railroad workers across the country boycotted the trains with Pullman cars, paralyzing the nation's economy as well as its mail service. President Grover Cleveland declared the strike a federal crime and called out 12,000 soldiers to break the strike. They crushed the walkout and killed at least two protesters. Six days later, Cleveland -- facing worker protests for his repression of the Pullman strikers -- signed a bill creating Labor Day as an official national holiday in September. He hoped that giving the working class a day off to celebrate one Monday a year might pacify them.

For most of the 20th century, Labor Day was reserved for festive parades, picnics and speeches sponsored by unions in major cities. But contrary to what President Cleveland had hoped, American workers, their families and allies, found other occasions to mobilize for better working conditions and a more humane society. America witnessed massive strike waves throughout the century, including militant general strikes and occupations in 1919 (including a general strike in Seattle), during the Depression (the 1934 San Francisco general strike, led by the longshoremen's union; a strike of about 400,000 textile workers that same year; and militant sit-down strikes by autoworkers in Flint, Michigan, women workers at Woolworth's department stores in New York, aviation workers in Los Angeles and others in 1937) and 1946 (which witnessed the largest strike wave in U.S. history, triggered by pent-up demands following World War II). The feminist, civil rights, environmental and gay rights movements drew important lessons from these labor tactics.

Meanwhile, May 1 faded away as a day of protest. From the 1920s through the 1950s, radical groups, including the Communist Party, sought to keep the tradition alive with parades and other events, but the mainstream labor movement and most liberal organizations kept their distance, making May Day an increasingly marginal affair. In 1958, in the midst of the cold war, President Dwight Eisenhower proclaimed May 1 as Loyalty Day. Each subsequent president has issues a similar proclamation, although few Americans know about or celebrate the day.

In 2001, however, unions and immigrant rights groups in Los Angeles resurrected May Day as an occasion for protest. The first few years saw rallies with several hundred participants, but in 2006 the numbers skyrocketed. That year, millions of people in over 100 cities -- including more than a million in Los Angeles, 200,000 in New York and 300,000 in Chicago -- participated in May Day demonstrations.

The huge turnout was catalyzed by a bill, sponsored by Representative James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wisconsin) and passed by the House the previous December, that would have classified as a felon anyone who helped undocumented immigrants enter or remain in the United States. In many cities, the protest, which organizers termed the "Great American Boycott," triggered walkouts by high school students and shut down businesses that depended on immigrant workers. Since then, immigrant workers and their allies have adopted May Day as an occasion for protest.

America is now in the midst of a new Gilded Age with a new group of corporate Robber Barons, many of them operating on a global scale. The top of the income scale has the biggest concentration of income and wealth since 1928. Several decades of corporate-backed assaults on unions have left only seven percent of private sector employees with union cards. More than half of America's 15 million union members now work for government (representing 37 percent of all government employees), so business groups and conservative politicians have targeted public sector unions for destruction.

Attacks during the past few years on teachers, cops, firefighters, human service workers and other public sector workers -- in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan and elsewhere -- the most ferocious anti-union crusade in decades -- have catalyzed a tremendous sense of urgency among union workers and millions of other Americans who've seen their standard of living plummet while the richest Americans and big business plunder the economy. Tens of millions of American working families are suffering, with new waves of lay-offs and foreclosures, exacerbated by severe cutbacks to government services.

But we've also seen a resurgence of activism among the ranks of low-wage workers. The past few years have seen an explosion of worker unrest, especially among Walmart employees, workers at fast-food chains, janitors, and hospital workers, demanding that employers pay them a living wage.

Just three years ago, the idea of a $15/hour minimum wage was considered a crazy notion. But in 2014, Seattle passed a citywide minimum wage at that level that included an annual cost-of-living adjustment. This "radical" idea has now become almost mainstream. A national poll conducted last January found that 75 percent of Americans support raising the federal minimum wage to $12.50 by 2020, including 92 percent of Democrats, 73 percent of Independents, 53 percent of Republicans. And 63 percent of Americans support an even greater federal minimum wage increase to $15.00 by 2020

In a growing number of cities, local elected officials are proposing local minimum wage laws. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is backing a citywide minimum wage of $13.25 an hour by 2017, while almost half of LA's City Council supports a $15 an hour minimum wage. Democrats in Congress are now rallying behind the idea raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $12 an hour -- something that would have been unthinkable just a year or two ago.

These dramatic changes in so short a time didn't happen by accident. They are a culmination of years of grassroots activism.

Although May Day may not be an official holiday in the United States, it is nevertheless an important part of this country's tradition. This year's May Day rallies will continue that American tradition of dissent and protest for a more humane society.

Peter Dreier teaches politics and chairs the Urban & Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College. His latest book is The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame (Nation Books, 2012).

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Is America Still Exceptional?

Huffington Post News - 4 hours 13 min ago

PARIS -- Walking along the River Seine flanked by grand palaces and magnificent French Empire buildings, it's easy to think of how the French once ruled the world and captured riches galore.

Just like the sun once never set on the British Empire. Or how the Spanish conquered the Americas and enriched themselves with gold, gold, gold. Or how the Dutch discovered places never dreamed of in days long gone by.

These days, it's clear the influence of these Europeans countries has peaked on the world stage, although they are far from inconsequential and their people generally live in societies with outstanding qualities of life.

But there's a palpable tension here between political, historical and daily realities that causes one to pause when thinking about America and her future. Is what has happened in France, Great Britain and other former world powerhouses the future path for our country? Is the notion of American exceptionalism waning?

Interestingly enough, a Frenchman, Alexis de Tocqueville, coined the notion that there was something special about the United States. In his Democracy in America, published in two installments after an 1830s trip across the then-expanding country, de Tocqueville noted:

... [I]t may be believed that no democratic people will ever be placed in a similar one. Their strictly Puritanical origin, their exclusively commercial habits, even the country they inhabit, which seems to divert their minds from the pursuit of science, literature, and the arts, the proximity of Europe, which allows them to neglect these pursuits without relapsing into barbarism, a thousand special causes, of which I have only been able to point out the most important, have singularly concurred to fix the mind of the American upon purely practical objects.

Often cited as components of American exceptionalism are the country's vast natural resources and its revolutionary history of creating a democratic republic that still inspires freedom in people in countries across the world. American innovation and her zeal for knowledge led to great inventions and wealth. There's a sense throughout the country that Americans have a destiny of freedom peppered with the fruits of capitalism to continue to fulfill. And then there's the sheer firepower of the United States, which has the mightiest armed forces in the world and a big place at the tables of diplomacy as the world encounters one international crisis after another.

But with all of America's exceptional qualities, there's also a sense feeling for some that America's time of preeminence is in danger of passing, perhaps to China. There's a notion now that politicians and other leaders aren't doing enough to secure the nation's premier place in the world. Republicans and Democrats bicker worse than ever before. They moan. They groan. They seem unable -- or are just inept -- to find common ground and get real things done to make differences in people's lives, whether in Washington or Columbia.

For example, where in Washington is the bipartisan commitment to do something against the gun violence that slashes through the country on a daily basis? Where in Columbia in my home state of South Carolina is a vigorous team approach to do something more than talk about improving education so tomorrow's leaders in the Palmetto State will have the intellectual framework to continue to be the innovators of the future? Why is it taking so long to get measures passed to curb domestic violence, fix roads, spur economic and business growth and deal with endemic poverty?

These are the kinds of questions that need to be asked of national leaders as they visit South Carolina in the months ahead as they try to get you to vote for them in a presidential primary. Instead of accepting what they say in routine stump speeches, demand that they tell you in specific detail how they'll continue to ensure that America remains exceptional -- and doesn't go the way of France, Great Britain or Spain on the world stage.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Troubled For-Profit Corinthian Colleges Shutting Down As Education Department Faces Bill

Huffington Post News - 4 hours 38 min ago

Corinthian Colleges Inc., once one of the nation's largest chains of for-profit colleges, announced Sunday it is abruptly shutting down after failing to find buyers for its roughly 30 remaining campuses, leaving up to 16,000 students in the lurch and potentially costing the U.S. Department of Education tens of millions of dollars in foregone federal student loan payments.

"What these students have experienced is unacceptable," Education Undersecretary Ted Mitchell said in a blog post Sunday.

The California-based chain at its peak operated more than 120 colleges with more than 110,000 students across North America under the Everest, Wyotech and Heald brands. Last July, under pressure from the Education Department over a paperwork dispute, the company struck a deal with the Obama administration to sell or close all of its campuses over the following six-month period in order to avoid what the Education Department described as an "immediate closure," or exactly what has happened with the company's Sunday announcement.

The closure is effective Monday. Corinthian students were told in a statement posted on the company's website and via email that the company is trying to make arrangements with other schools that would enable Corinthian students to complete their studies elsewhere. Students with federal student loans who choose not to complete their programs would be eligible for full loan cancellations. Unless the Education Department recoups the money from the financially troubled company, taxpayers would eat the cost.

Corinthian said 28 campuses are closing. The Education Department put the total at 30, which includes two satellite campuses that it counts as separate locations.

"For too many students, Corinthian turned the American dream of higher ed into a nightmare of debt & despair," Rohit Chopra, the federal consumer bureau's top student loan official, wrote Sunday on Twitter.

In recent years, Corinthian has been accused by multiple federal and state authorities of systematically lying about its graduation or job placement rates, misleading potential students into enrolling and forking over tens of thousands of dollars to obtain credentials many critics believe to be of dubious value. The company annually received some $1.4 billion in federal financial aid for its students, according to the Education Department.

Corinthian finalized a deal in February to sell more than 50 of its campuses to one of the Education Department's contracted debt collectors in a transaction that effectively bailed out the company and deprived nearly 40,000 students of the chance to have their federal student loans canceled. The forced sale followed months of alleged delays by the company to turn over sufficient paperwork about its job placement rates to the Education Department.

Last summer, the department had limited Corinthian schools' access to federal financial aid, a move that ultimately set off a chain of events that culminated with Sunday's announcement. The company in a statement blamed federal and state regulators for its abrupt closure.

The surprise announcement that the company will immediately shut down its remaining campuses across five states now puts the Education Department in the exact position it had hoped to avoid. The department, led by Education Secretary Arne Duncan, had hoped to either broker a sale of the company's remaining campuses -- keeping them open for current students -- or help the company strike agreements with other schools to allow Corinthian students the opportunity to complete their programs.

"We believe that we have attempted to do everything within our power to provide a quality education and an opportunity for a better future for our students," Jack Massimino, Corinthian's chief executive, said in a statement. "Unfortunately the current regulatory environment would not allow us to complete a transaction with several interested parties that would have allowed for a seamless transition for our students. I would like to thank our employees for their selfless dedication and commitment to fulfilling the educational and career goals of all of our students."

The company said it had been in what it described as "advanced negotiations" with several potential buyers for its Heald campuses as well as other schools that would take in some Corinthian students in California wishing to complete their studies. But the company said its efforts were stymied "largely as a result of federal and state regulators seeking to impose financial penalties and conditions on buyers and teach-out partners."

Kamala Harris, California's attorney general, has a pending lawsuit against the company alleging it misled students and investors about its job placement rates. The state of California in 2007 settled a previous investigation into Corinthian after amassing evidence that the company allegedly inflated its job placement rates.

Several state attorneys general and the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have sued the company, alleging it lied to potential students. The Education Department meanwhile allowed the company's schools to continue enrolling students and tap taxpayer funds for its bottom line.

Mitchell said Sunday that the Education Department would send its staff "to as many campuses as possible to talk directly with students." The department was in discussions with state community college systems to ensure that Corinthian students could continue their studies, he added, while some students could be eligible for debt forgiveness.

The for-profit college industry has been in consumer advocates' crosshairs for years. Though students at for-profit schools constitute only 13 percent of total enrollment at higher education institutions, they represent nearly half of all loan defaults, according to the Education Department. The Obama administration has been trying to rein in for-profit schools and limit dodgy schools' access to federal financial aid.

Corinthian Colleges spawned a growing movement of so-called "debt strikers" who are refusing to make payments on their federal student loans in protest against the Education Department's treatment of the company and its current and former students. A group of roughly 100 former Corinthian students that calls itself the "Corinthian 100" has been publicly pressuring the department to cancel all debts owed by current and former Corinthian students because of the company's alleged deception related to its job placement and graduation rates.

"We have kept students at the heart of every decision we have made about Corinthian," Mitchell said last month.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) in March endorsed the debt strike. The former Corinthian students "have decided that this is predatory lending and they're not going to repay their debts," said Waters, the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee.

Duncan has said his department is considering their request. Full debt forgiveness for all current and former Corinthian students would likely cost the Education Department billions of dollars, especially because it's unlikely the department could get the company to cover losses from forgone federal student loan payments.

The federal student loan program has generated tens of billions of dollars in profit in recent years, thanks to the spread between high interest rates paid by student loan borrowers and the relatively low rates paid by the government in financing its annual budget deficits. The Congressional Budget Office forecasts that the program will continue to generate billions in annual profits in the coming decade.

Last month, the Education Department accused Corinthian's Heald campuses of misleading students and accreditation agencies about its graduates’ employment rates. The company showed a “blatant disregard” for the federal student loan program after the department said it found 947 false job placement rates dating back to at least 2010.

The Education Department levied a $29.7 million fine, a ban on enrolling new students, and a requirement that Heald prepare plans for its thousands of students to either graduate or transfer to a new school.

The department has yet to announce the results of its broader investigation into allegations the company's other schools lied about its job placement rates.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Stars & Stripes Festival details shaping up - The Macomb Daily

Berkley Information from Google News - 4 hours 42 min ago

Stars & Stripes Festival details shaping up
The Macomb Daily
Numerous regional and local bands will be part of the Stars & Stripes Festival lineup this year. MACOMB DAILY - FILE PHOTO. By Mitch Hotts, The Macomb Daily. Posted: 04/26/15, 4:58 PM EDT |. # Comments. Zach Smith tends to a pork shoulder and ribs on ...

Categories: Berkley Area News

Madam Secretary: We Have Some Questions

Huffington Post News - 5 hours 35 min ago

Liberals are confronted with a dilemma: They are deeply troubled by the candidacy of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but she is the overwhelming frontrunner for the Democratic Party presidential nomination.

Further, Clinton's comments in support of middle class America represent a decidedly populist tenor, and those noises she's making sound awfully good to battle-weary political junkies desperate to oppose the presidential spokesmen of the wealthy elites in the Republican Party. On the other hand, both Clintons appear to be captives of the same economic class Liberals seek to contain, and the sourcing of funds for the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation while she was Secretary of State becomes more scandalous by the minute.

In addition, Hillary Clinton voted for the war in Iraq and is on record as being more "hawkish" in pursuing foreign policy than President Obama. She has favored the financial elites over common folk in previous incarnations; and, she is a latecomer in objecting to the militarization of police in the U.S., as well as the not so latent racism practiced throughout the country. Clinton appears to be paranoid and secretive, voting for the Patriot Act in 2001 and again in 2005.

In the meantime, despite all of the well-deserved cynicism in regard to their candidate, Liberals are advised to take advantage of Clinton's campaign initiative by trying to pin down her progressive "creds" as much as possible at a moment in time when it is clearly in her interest to allow them to do so, because it is at this point in the campaign maneuvering that Republicans will do everything possible to tear her down before the campaign begins in earnest.

Answering policy questions might actually be a welcome respite for her. So, while we listen to the issues of political dynasty and every misdeed the Clintons have committed -- slavishly pursuing money, the issues surrounding the Benghazi tragedy and the erased emails from her personal server, Liberals may well be able to burnish their own policy concerns.

So what are the questions, and how should they be posed? Starting with her professed desire to help the middle class in this country means changing the tax code to resort the deck on income distribution. The following questions apply, and they can be asked at any forum at which she appears and by anyone who chooses to reprint this list.

Candidate Clinton, would you?

Income Inequality

1. Remove the earnings cap on Social Security payments?
2. Impose a transaction fee for securities (including derivatives) trades?
3. Place the same tax rates on investment income as ordinary income?
4. Remove the carried interest classification for earnings?
5. Increase the tax rate and reduce the exclusions for estate taxes?
6. Limit the home interest deductions with caps on primary and secondary homes?

The "Hollowing Out" of the Middle Class

1. Support a national $15 per hour minimum wage?
2. Provide mandatory paid sick leave, maternity leave and minimum three weeks' paid vacation?
3. Impose surcharges on executive pay in excess of 25 times that of average worker pay?
4. Require that corporate bonuses be shared with all employees, not just the executives?
5. Establish a "sustainable living" standard (currently considered to be a minimum of $15 per hour wage) and penalize corporations that underpay by increasing their tax rates?
6. Require gender pay equality and paid maternity leave?
7. Increase Social Security benefits?

Economic Growth and Stability

1. Reinstate Glass Steagall in order to re-separate commercial banking and investment banking?
2. Review and remove unneeded corporate subsidies, specifically for oil companies and corporate farmers?
3. Enforce anti-trust provisions and break up international corporations that unfairly use globalization to outsource jobs and avoid taxes?
4. Require large corporations establish "work councils" which include labor, educators and management to determine work force requirements and training?
5. Oppose NAFTA type trade deals, support trade with Europe? Specifically, change the TTP to require national commitment to job training and eliminate corporate rights to bypass governments in claims pursuits?
6. Commit to major infrastructure building programs, especially those targeting education, transportation and public service needs?
7. Require labor representation on corporate boards and broaden shareholder voting rights to include enforceable rights over compensation?

Social Welfare and Health Care Issues

1. Publicly supported education through college K-16?
2. Establish a path for Obamacare to migrate to Medicare for All?
3. Allow government to negotiate rates for drugs, regulate prices?
4. Retarget medical payments for outcomes not procedures?
5. Increase R&D for medical research?

Civil Liberties/Civil Rights

1. Encourage and protect whistleblowers?
2. Assure internet neutrality?
3. Stop domestic spying by restricting all metadata collections by NIA, NSA, CIA, FBI, etc.?
4. Support campaign finance reform by establishing public support and eliminating private contributions?
5. Establish a free standard national voter ID built on an expanded Social Security card system?
6. Declare Election Day a national, paid holiday for all?
7. Create programs to demilitarize police by retraining them for community assistance and safety?
8. Create a national database for racial profiling?
9. Disengage from private prisons, address mass incarcerations by making use of community-based justice and restitution programs?
10. Reestablish fairness in broadcast and cable media with an "equal time provision" and news requirements for FCC licenses?

Foreign Policy

1. Reframe the national policy in the Middle East to containment, not involvement?
2. Realign with Europe?
3. Redefine foreign policy for a post-Pax Americana world by shifting more global responsibilities to international organizations? Audit those organizations and demand efficiencies?
4. Require accountability and reduce military spending and increase foreign aid to support education and American business interests?

Government Over-Regulation

1. Create an open architecture for efficiency and simplification?
2. Create a permanent civil commission to address waste and red tape overkill?
3. Establish harsh penalties for corruption?

Environmental/Energy Policy

1. Place a moratorium on fracking until ground water and water usage issues are resolved?
2. Extend renewable energy credits?
3. Support R&D efforts for energy sources and energy savings?

Campaign Finance Reform

1. Restrict political officials from easily migrating to/from lobbying firms?
2. Outlaw PACs as a part of election reform?
3. Limit campaign periods?
4. Propose publicly supported campaigns for all elections to national office?
5. Require that independent bodies propose redistricting for Congressional seats?

If You Really Want to be Progressive

1. Nationalize pension systems to include all American workers (Social Security for all) beginning at age 65?
2. Regulate the health care industry as if it were a public utility?
3. Transition veterans care into the Medicare program, allowing them access to the entire health care system?
4. Declare terrorists an FBI and police issue, and withdraw the military, NIA, NSA, CIA, etc., components?
5. Re-establish the nuclear disarmament policy and engage China, Pakistan, India, Israel and Russia in the forum?
6. Create universal service for all post high school aged Americans?
7. Develop a Satisfaction Index to track the Consumer Price Index, and use it as a measure to determine government policy?

The list may be long, and there may be little time or opportunity to confront Clinton with policy questions, however, the more she is given the opportunity and shown the need to define a vision for America that approximates the Liberal agenda, the better off she, and we, will be in the ultimate campaign against a candidate mouthing sound bites to cover commitments to wealthy donors. Since Clinton is the commanding frontrunner -- and should she win -- Liberals need to do the best they can to define her in ways that become policy.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Rep. Elijah Cummings: Police-Community Relations Is The 'Civil Rights Cause Of This Generation'

Huffington Post News - 6 hours 36 min ago

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said on Sunday that the relationship between law enforcement and ordinary citizens is "the civil rights cause of this generation" -- remarks that came just hours after protesters took to the streets of Baltimore to protest the death of Freddie Gray, a black man who recently died after sustaining injuries in police custody.

"This whole police community relations situation, Bob, is the civil rights cause of this generation, no doubt about it," Cummings told CBS' Bob Schieffer on "Face the Nation."

Baltimore police said on Sunday that they had arrested about 34 people and that six police officers were injured during the protests.

Gray, 25, died on April 19, a week after he was arrested by police. Authorities are still piecing together the circumstances of Gray's arrest, but thus far, no evidence has emerged that he was doing anything illegal at the time.

Baltimore officials are investigating how Gray sustained fatal injuries, including a severed spinal cord, while he was in police custody. The Department of Justice is also investigating whether there is enough evidence to bring a prosecutable civil rights charge against the Baltimore police.

Cummings said Sunday that the protests, some of which took place in his own neighborhood, had been largely peaceful. He said much of the violence had been instigated by a "few people, mainly from out of town." On Saturday evening, the Baltimore Police Department said something similar, tweeting that "isolated pockets of people from out of town" were "causing disturbances."

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Whitaker honored to make trip to Detroit to receive award - Detroit Free Press

Berkley Information from Google News - 7 hours 26 min ago

Detroit Free Press

Whitaker honored to make trip to Detroit to receive award
Detroit Free Press
Lou Whitaker was back on the field Sunday afternoon, though he sat in a chair near home plate instead of standing in the batter's box. The former Tigers second baseman was honored in a pre-game ceremony at Comerica Park as the team's 2015 African ...
'Sweet Lou' Back In Town For Honors During Weekend At The BallparkCBS Local
Lou Whitaker accepts award from Tigers, says he 'loved'

all 14 news articles »

Categories: Berkley Area News

We Can Talk About Bruce's Politics Without Ruining the Moment

Huffington Post News - 7 hours 43 min ago

Consider this the backlash to the backlash to the backlash.

Bruce Jenner dropped a bombshell Friday night when he came out -- as a conservative Republican. Social media treated that revelation as the real news of the evening, though many argued Jenner's politics were irrelevant and shouldn't pull focus from a transgender rights milestone.

I get (and share) the impulse to focus on what was wonderful and historic about the interview -- and not ruin the moment by picking it apart. But Jenner himself invited the brouhaha by gratuitously injecting his politics. Grudgingly acknowledging Diane Sawyer's observation that President Obama was the first president to publicly utter the word "transgender," Jenner chose to add that he doesn't think much of the President and is a "conservative" Republican who "believe[s] in the Constitution."

This provoked a wave of social media comments variously shocked and snide about the irony of a closeted trans woman supporting her own oppressors. A returning tide of testy responses (at least in my feeds) bemoaned tone-deaf political correctness at a joyous moment, and celebrated Jenner's right to defy liberal expectations and be himself.

I found myself on both sides of the question Friday night, and that's where I remain. Jenner deserves love, compassion and respect for putting himself on the line, regardless of his politics. History will rightfully remember him for creating visibility for a community still fighting scorn, fear and abuse.

But, hey, that does not preclude engagement on subjects where Jenner himself opened the door -- including his presumably narrow view of individual rights and liberties, which is what "conservative" Republicans generally mean when they say they "believe in the Constitution." Can we assume Jenner thinks same-sex couples have no constitutional right to marry? That women have no right to reproductive choice? Does he embrace Republican orthodoxy on matters of race and poverty -- and support candidates working to impose those views on the country?

We can't be sure, but that's the unsettling message he chose to send. How sad if someone who endured decades in hiding couldn't appreciate the worse oppression visited on those without his compensating privileges. Or if someone who benefitted from the more welcoming environment created by generations of progressive activism continued to support those who would turn the clock back.

So, I don't see the contradiction in embracing the good Jenner has done, while respectfully asking "What the heck?" on his apparently discordant politics -- not to enforce liberal orthodoxy, but to encourage self-reflection in someone who has a unique public platform. If Jenner's views are evolving, he could do a lot of good within his party. His comments in the interview highlighting violence against trans women of color were an encouraging sign of concern for the vulnerable and marginalized.

Bruce Jenner will always be a hero for what he did Friday night. It takes nothing away from that to observe that he, and eventually she, has the potential to do so much more by embracing political as well as personal evolution.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

House Democrat Calls For Creation Of 'Hostage Czar' After Drone Strike

Huffington Post News - 7 hours 51 min ago

WASHINGTON -- Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) said Sunday that the administration should name a "hostage czar" amid revelations that a U.S. drone strike killed two innocent hostages in Pakistan.

“What we're calling for is the creation of effectively a hostage czar, which deals with a slightly different issue, which deals with finding these hostages,” Delaney said on ABC's "This Week."

President Barack Obama on Thursday took full responsibility for the deaths of Warren Weinstein, an American hostage, and Giovanni Lo Porto, an Italian national hostage.

“In my experience with Warren's case, we do not do as good of a job, or an effective a job as we could as a country in locating these hostages,” Delaney said.

After al Qaeda captured Weinstein in 2011, his family reportedly paid over $200,000 in ransom, but the kidnappers failed to uphold their end of the bargain.

“Warren was held as a hostage for over three years and the coordination between the different parts of our government -- and the individuals in those different parts work really hard on these matters, but we just didn't see the kind of coordination and effectiveness in leveraging some of our partners in the region to actually identify where these hostages are,” Delaney said.

The accidental deaths of the two hostages have raised questions among lawmakers about the country's drone program and if it needs more oversight from the Defense Department.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Clinton Foundation Admits Mistakes On Tax Filings

Huffington Post News - 8 hours 19 min ago

The Clinton Foundation defended its commitment to transparency on Sunday, but also admitted that the organization had made mistakes in its tax filings.

The organization and its donors have come under intense scrutiny ahead of the release of a new book that suggests the Clintons traded favors for donations while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state. While the foundation has acknowledged that it violated a disclosure agreement with the Obama administration, no direct evidence of wrongdoing has been found.

Maura Pally, acting CEO of the foundation, posted a statement Sunday acknowledging that while the organization had not underreported its revenue, it had failed to separate government grants from other donations on its tax filings. Pally wrote that after a voluntary external review, the foundation intends to refile several years' worth of forms.

"Yes, we made mistakes, as many organizations of our size do, but we are acting quickly to remedy them, and have taken steps to ensure they don't happen in the future," Pally wrote in the statement. "We are committed to operating the Foundation responsibly and effectively to continue the life-changing work that this philanthropy is doing every day." She added that the organization's "donor disclosure and foreign government contributor policy is stronger than ever."

Pally also explained the relationship between the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership, an initiative backed by Frank Giustra, a Canadian mining mogul who donated millions to the Clinton Foundation while in a position to benefit financially from a deal that had to be approved by Hillary Clinton's State Department and several other government agencies. The New York Times reported this week that Giustra personally donated at least $31.3 million to the Clinton Foundation.

Pally wrote that because the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership was established in Canada, Canadian law prevents the charity from disclosing individual donors without their consent. Because the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership is an independent charity, the Clinton Foundation did not list its donors on its own website, Pally said.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Arkansas Governor Warns GOP Not To Overstate Clinton Book Allegations

Huffington Post News - 8 hours 53 min ago

WASHINGTON -- Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson (R) warned Republicans on Sunday not to go too far in accusing Hillary Clinton of making decisions during her time as secretary of state based on financial donations made to the Clinton Foundation -- allegations that have popped up in a new book.

Responding to the Peter Schweizer book, titled Clinton Cash -- which alleges donations from foreign governments to the nonprofit influenced policy during Clinton’s tenure at the State Department -- Hutchinson said it "reminds everyone that everything about the Clintons is complicated."

But, he added, that the book shows “no evidence of a quid pro quo.”

“Republicans need to be careful not to overstate the case, but it reminds us that the Clintons are complicated and they tend to make mistakes,” Hutchinson said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.

Hutchinson added that the information in the book revealing an “ungodly amount of money” being exchanged in certain transactions involving “foreign sources” should be looked into.

However, the impact of the book, Hutchinson said, will only be felt among centrist voters deciding whether to support Clinton -- the Democratic presidential front-runner.

“It doesn’t impact her base or the Republican base,” Hutchinson said of the book. “It impacts the voters in the middle.”

In response to the book's accusations, the Clinton Foundation on Thursday said it would redo multiple tax returns, and on Sunday the foundation’s acting CEO, Maura Pally, admitted it had “made mistakes.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Categories: Political News and Opinion

Peter Schweizer, Author Of Controversial New Clinton Book, Admits That He Did Not Brief Democrats On Content

Huffington Post News - 8 hours 58 min ago

The author of an upcoming book examining foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation admitted on Sunday that he has informed congressional Republicans about the book's contents, but has not, to date, discussed the contents with congressional Democrats.

The book, Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich, suggests that the Clintons traded political favors for donations during Hillary Clinton's time as secretary of state. The Clinton camp has tried to discredit the book as a partisan attack, in part by casting doubt on the credibility of its author, Peter Schweizer, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush.

While The New York Times reported earlier this week that Schweizer had briefed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the book, Democrats on the committee told The Huffington Post that they had not met with Schweizer. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the committee's chairman, also told HuffPost that he had discussed the book with Schweizer, but that the committee had not received a formal briefing.

During an appearance on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday, Schweizer confirmed that he had not met with Democrats on the committee. He offered on Sunday to do so before the book is released next week.

Schweizer denied that his book is partisan.

"I went to the investigative unit at The New York Times, the investigative unit here at ABC. I went to the investigative unit at The Washington Post. And I shared with them my findings," Schweizer said. "These are not cupcakes. These are serious researchers and investigators. And they are confirming what I've reported."

On Thursday, The New York Times published a lengthy story, sparked by Schweizer's findings, that described how firms with a financial interest in a deal for Russia to take over a portion of the United States' uranium deposits donated millions to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton's State Department was one of several agencies that had to sign off on the deal.

The Times reported that the Clinton Foundation did not publicly disclose those donations -- a violation of an agreement with the Obama administration -- but it also reported that it had found no evidence that the donations directly influenced the deal. During his appearance on "This Week," Schweizer also acknowledged that he hadn't found any direct evidence that Clinton had intervened to help those who backed the foundation.

Despite the lack of a smoking gun, the Clinton Foundation released a statement on Sunday describing its relationship with Frank Giustra, one of the individuals who had a financial interest in the uranium deal.

The post, written by Maura Pally, the acting CEO of the foundation, also offered an explanation of one aspect of the organization's tax filings that had raised eyebrows:

I also want to address questions regarding our 990 tax forms. We have said that after a voluntary external review is completed we will likely refile forms for some years. While some have suggested that this indicates a failure to accurately report our total revenue, that is not the case. Our total revenue was accurately reported on each year's form – our error was that government grants were mistakenly combined with other donations. Those same grants have always been properly listed and broken out and available for anyone to see on our audited financial statements, posted on our website.

So yes, we made mistakes, as many organizations of our size do, but we are acting quickly to remedy them, and have taken steps to ensure they don't happen in the future. We are committed to operating the Foundation responsibly and effectively to continue the life-changing work that this philanthropy is doing every day.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Categories: Political News and Opinion

No foul play in Brownstown Twp death - WDIV Detroit

Berkley Information from Google News - 9 hours 7 min ago

WDIV Detroit

No foul play in Brownstown Twp death
WDIV Detroit
Police say they do not believe foul play was involved in the death of the women found in a downriver canal Saturday. The family of dead woman had reported her missing Thursday and her car was discovered on W. Jefferson Friday. A resident discovered the ...

and more »

Categories: Berkley Area News