Sunday, July 28, 2013

George Zimmerman Car Crash Hero Story: Too Good to Be True

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George Zimmerman Car Crash Hero Story: Too Good to Be True

Zimmerman truthers find Trayvon Martin's killer's rescue story fishy.
Photo Credit: Rihardzz/

It seemed stranger than fiction, as even his lawyer acknowledged, that George Zimmerman’s first appearance just days after he was acquitted for the killing of Trayvon Martin would be to rescue a nice family of four from their overturned SUV. But that’s what reportedly happened on July 17, leading his defenders to call him a hero and some critics to claim the event was a hoax aimed at boosting his popularity.
It does seem like an odd coincidence: Zimmerman just happened to be on the scene of the crash at the right moment, and happened to have a fire extinguisher with him to put out the flaming car. And now the family he saved abruptly canceled the press conference they had planned to thank Zimmerman. It’s all too much to believe for the Zimmerman Rescue Truthers, who emerged immediately after the news broke.
“Even if we had a videotape of the accident, they would still say it was made up. So you can’t really respond to people who just don’t want to listen to the truth,” Zimmerman defense attorney Mark O’Mara told CNN. “The idea that this was made up — it’s just the same people who refuse to accept the jury’s verdict, just want to be angry, just want to hate George Zimmerman, are still going to hate him.”
He’s probably right. As we’ve noted, conspiracy theories are basically impossible to stamp out. And in this case, the circumstances are just too weird, and the potential public relations benefit for Zimmerman — and thus the perceived incentive to stage the scene — too obvious to explain away for those who are upset about the verdict. Fox News, whose opinion hosts have pretty openly sided with Zimmerman, reported that at an NAACP meeting, “there was a lot — a lot — of skepticism, people saying they don’t believe a word of this.”
“Zimmerman can pull someone from a burning car, but he can’t a push 17-year-old, 150 pound boy off of him?” asked one tweeter. On Twitter, the skeptics appeared to be be predominantly liberal and disproportionately minorities — the same kinds of people who have been pushing for harsher punishment of Zimmerman all along — while others questioned the police officers involved.
“There’s something fishy about this #Zimmerman Rescue,” another person tweeted. “Feels too perfectly timed and convenient.”
One blog advancing the conspiracy narrative that went viral posted screen shots of what appears to be the Facebook page of the officer who responded to the crash, which shows that he posted numerous photos and messages supporting Zimmerman days before and after the accident. Most criticized the media and liberals who turned the case into a race issue. “If Trayvon Martin had been killed in Afghanistan, Barack Obama wouldn’t even know his name,” reads one popular image macro the officer posted. Yet the officer, who posted about other activities of his duty life, didn’t post anything about his run in with Zimmerman. The only reference to the accident was a few days later, when he linked to a local news story and wrote, “I sorta made the news…”
That conspiracy blog even claims that it has a source, whom it does not identify, who saw phone records showing that the officer alerted Zimmerman about the crash before authorities arrived so Zimmerman could end up in the police report and look like a hero. We asked the unnamed blogger for more info about his or source, but the blogger didn’t respond.
Theorists have also speculated that Zimmerman might have a police scanner, given his work as a neighborhood watchman and his current fear for his own safety, and that he used it to respond to the crash before authorities could get there.
They also wonder why none of the multiple 9-1-1 calls mention Zimmerman, though some mention two men on the scene, and why O’Mara says his client didn’t mention the crash when they met the next day. And why none of the family members in the crash mentioned the crash on their Facebook or Twitter pages. And why are there no photos of the crash? All the data points don’t really make sense together — was the entire crash staged, or did Zimmerman show up to intentionally take credit for saving the family? — but various skeptics differ on how much of the accident they think was staged.
Still, even O’Mara acknowledged that the whole thing is a bit weird. “I will acknowledge it was coincidental four or five days after the verdict, but it was not set up, or staged. Really, do you think we would’ve set up a family of four on the side (of the road), destroying an SUV?” the defense lawyer told a local TV station.
The family Zimmerman helped save, he said, didn’t feel comfortable coming forward given all the heat on Zimmerman at the moment. Indeed, TV news trucks have been staked out near their house, much to their dismay, but in refusing to speak with the press, even just to confirm that Zimmerman was on the scene, they’ve helped fuel the conspiracy narrative.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Public pensions a big casualty in Detroit's bankruptcy: Their fight is all worker's fight

Their fight is all worker's fight -- And the support from MI Attorney General Bill Schuette is good news. --See below.

From Yahoo News:

Detroit bankruptcy another setback for unions

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Detroit's historic bankruptcy filing is a major setback for public employee unions that have spent years trying to ward off cuts to the pensions of millions of government workers around the country.
If the city's gambit succeeds, it could jeopardize an important bargaining tool for unions, which often have deferred higher wages in favor of more generous pensions and health benefits.
It also could embolden other financially troubled cities dealing with pension shortfalls to consider bankruptcy, or at least take a harder line with their unions in negotiating cuts.
"This is essentially the union's worst nightmare, said Gary Chaison, professor of industrial relations at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. "It means that the most sacred of sacred things they've negotiated for, the pensions of their retired members, are going to be severely cut."
Detroit's bankruptcy filing comes on the heels of some public unions losing most of their collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin. At the same time, the unions have shed thousands
. . . Click here for more of the Yahoo News article

Michigan attorney general backs pensioners in Detroit bankruptcy

Michigan's Attorney General Bill Schuette, a Republican, said on Saturday he would defend retirees who risk losing public pensions because of Detroit's bankruptcy, putting him at odds with the city's emergency manager appointed by fellow Republican Governor Rick Snyder.

Schuette, an elected official, said the Michigan state constitution is "crystal clear" in stating that pension plans are a contractual obligation that may not be diminished or impaired.
 . . . Click here for more of the Yahoo News article

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Car insurance's skew of Detroit voter registration rolls

Detroit made news with its bankruptcy last week. The politics of who is able to vote of course has a big impact on who does vote in Motor City. Note the quoted person in this Yahoo Business article, Vincent Keenan, executive director of a voter education project, "It is effectively a poll tax." Detroit has very high insurance rates, preventing many residents from actually registering their cars, or their voter registration, in the city of Detroit. (See Laura Clawson's report in DailyKos, or analysis linked at this page on how to prevent future Detroits.)

The city where no one has car insurance

As executive director for Publius, a voter-education nonprofit in Michigan, Vincent Keenan got well acquainted with an odd phenomenon in his hometown of Detroit: A troubling number of residents aren't registered to vote in the Motor City.

The reason has nothing to do with citizen apathy.

Instead they are registered to vote in the suburbs, where car insurance is cheaper. They use an address outside the city to renew their driver's licenses and register, then report that address to insurers.

"It's an amazingly pervasive piece of information about living in the city of Detroit that people pick up on incredibly quickly," Keenan says. "It is effectively a poll tax."

The impact on voter registration is just one of the consequences of the city's sky-high car insurance rates. Another: Lots of folks don't buy insurance.

Michigan has one of the highest uninsured driver rates, with an estimated 19 percent of motorists going without insurance, according to the latest Insurance Research Council study. But estimates for the uninsured rate in Detroit are even higher.

In a commentary for the Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault, Melvin Butch Hollowell, former Michigan insurance consumer advocate, put the number at 60 percent.

Good driver? $4,000 a year
While Michigan's car insurance rates are already high compared with other states, Detroit's are in another league.

Keenan, who's now running for City Council, knows firsthand. About 10 years ago he moved just one block from outside the city limits to inside Detroit. His car insurance premiums tripled.

In the most expensive areas of Detroit, according to an analysis of rates from six major car insurance carriers, the average rate for a 40-year-old driver with full coverage on a 2012 Honda Accord is about $4,500 a year. Move a ZIP code or two outside the city and those rates drop by half or more.

And that's for a driver with a clean record. Poor credit or violations would drive that number up considerably. Only some areas of Brooklyn, N.Y., can rival Detroit for whopping car insurance bills.

No wonder some Detroiters fall for fake insurance scams or make the decision to go without.

But getting caught means a fine of up to $500 -- and also much higher rates when they finally do buy insurance. Failure to pay means a suspended license, and in turn higher rates again because of the suspension.

Why so high?
Michigan is the only state that guarantees unlimited, lifetime personal injury protection (PIP) benefits for someone injured in a car accident.
Click here to read the rest of the Yahoo Business article on insurance in Detroit, "The city where no one has car insurance."

Monday, July 22, 2013

Alliance for American Manufacturing's Paul: No More Detroits

Scott Paul has written an important essay arguing that America part from its no help to the industrial sector ideological-economic orthodoxy. Correctly, he draws the parallels to European and East Asian countries that are thriving because they have industrial policies that help their domestic industries. If America can violate free market orthodoxy to help the farming sector then it can certainly do the same to help the manufacturing sector. In writing "No More Detroits" he was responding to the Detroit's declaring bankruptcy, this past Friday, July 19, 2013. He appeared today on Ed Schultz's radio show.

As The American Prospect argued in December, 2009, big business and Washington had the chance to do the right thing in the 1970s with manufacturing and industrial policy, but it failed to. See Jeff Faux, Industrial Policy: The Road Not Taken.

No More Detroits

The city of Detroit's bankruptcy is an American tragedy and an entirely preventable one. The downward spiral began decades ago when deindustrialization led to depopulation, crime and declining public revenues. Corruption and mismanagement may have exacerbated the problem, but they weren't the root cause. The gravest mistake we can make today is to believe that Detroit is an anomaly. It isn't. The economic threats that brought down Detroit are present in other great American cities. The question is: Will we learn our lesson and prevent future harm elsewhere?
Deindustrialization -- in Detroit or elsewhere -- is neither desirable nor inevitable. But as any physician will tell you, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
I believe that same maxim applies to economies. With smart public policies, cities, states, and nations can maintain diverse, sustainable economies that may bend with the business cycle but will never break.
Nations with a manufacturing strategy ("State of the Union A Comprehensive National Manufacturing Strategy") have a greater percentage of their economy and employment in industry than we do in America today.

. . . What do they know that we don't? Manufacturing matters.
As I point out in our new book, ReMaking America, the idea that deindustrialization in America is nothing to worry about has been conventional wisdom for several decades. Thought leaders often tell us why we should be so lucky that America can just design while leaving it to the developing world to produce.
But they ignore vital examples like the high-wage German economy with its sizable manufacturing sector. They say cheap imports are great for our economy, a slogan that ignores the fact that one's buying power is limited, even at Wal-Mart, when they can't find a job. We hear that outsourcing is a good thing, which fails to take into account that a day may come when America can't supply its own troops. And we're told that trade deficits don't matter, except that they, too, have to be financed somehow and that this obligation has cost the middle class its jobs and wealth.
. . .
Paul makes some policy recommendations to restore American jobs, American wealth:
1. Cut the trade deficit in goods in half over the next three years. This means more exports, and fewer subsidized imports from China and Japan that dislocate workers in cities like Detroit. It does us little good to double exports, as President Obama stumped for during his re-election campaign, if imports are rising at an even greater rate.
2. Restore the balance of power between the industrial park and Wall Street. Financial deregulation in the late 1990s made the financial sector the master of manufacturing. That, along with the creation of CDOs and other get-rich-quick "innovations," was a huge mistake. Ensure that our small- and mid-sized manufacturers have access to affordable, patient capital.
3. Rebuild the connection between innovation and production. Our tax dollars fund research that helps create amazing products -- that are made overseas and sold back to us. We should insist that federally supported R&D is channeled into the design, engineering, and productions of goods in America. Congress should fund the $1 billion proposed by the Obama Administration to create a network of national innovation institutes.
4. Adopt policies to boost demand. That means infrastructure investment and tax policies geared towards higher levels of production and consumption of domestic goods. Even with automation and productivity, higher demand means we'll be supporting more manufacturing jobs. Don't allow Wall Street and retailers to hijack corporate tax reform when only manufacturers face real global competition.
5. Scrap the "strong dollar" policy that helps U.S. businessmen find cheaper hotel rooms overseas in favor of a competitively valued dollar that will boost our exports. The Institute for International Economics estimates that the dollar is overvalued, while China's and Japan's currencies are undervalued. We should insist those governments end policies that deliberately lower the value of their currencies.
6. Adopt smart energy policies that will position the United States as the global leader in renewable energy equipment manufacturing and boost our emerging energy cost advantage. Exporting loads of domestic natural gas to countries that subsidize their own industries makes little sense.
7. Encourage small-scale manufacturers to embrace "urban manufacturing," the "cloud," and additive manufacturing. This will localize manufacturing, reduce imports, and establish a new generation of makers.
8. Rebuild our system of vocational education. Creating a seamless system of training from high school, to community college, and on to the factory floor for a new generation of manufacturing workers will boost American manufacturing's competitiveness and provide a viable career path for millions of Americans.

Make no mistake: This isn't about rebuilding manufacturing the way it was in America, but rather about how we can restore American manufacturing leadership in this century. We need to get smart. With the right policies -- including those above, which are outlined in great detail in ReMaking America -- manufacturing can see a new dawn in Detroit and all across America. We can see renewed wealth and growth opportunities necessary to keep the American dream alive. And we'll certainly see fewer headlines like we had on Friday.
ReMaking America authors: Richard McCormack, Eric Garfinkel, Leo Hindery, Sridhar Kota, Harold Meyerson, Harry Moser, Scott Paul, Irene Petrick, Carl Pope, Stacey Jarrett Wagner.

Ed Schultz outlines his four step plan to save Detroit

Ed outlines his four step plan to save Detroit

Republicans have given up on the city of Detroit, they want to wipe the slate clean and start privatizing city assets, and in the process, city workers are in danger of losing their pensions.
Ed Schultz outlines his four step plan to save Detroit. Lansing, Michigan Mayor Virg Bernero and Michael Eric Dyson join Ed to discuss.

Yahoo News: Most Egregious States For Speeding Tickets In The US

There's a valuable new column, BOLD RIDE, at Yahoo News.

The author named several states and their egregious tricks for saddling drivers with onerous fees.

The Most Egregious States For Speeding Tickets In The US

I’ve lived in Massachusetts for most of my life. I racked up a handful of minor traffic violations here over the last 25 years, but when I moved to Vermont, I seemed to be getting popped for violations once every couple of months. It was a combination of driving more during odd hours, and a lot of cops with nothing better to do. Those factors influence what state you’re likely to get a ticket in, too, and how expensive it’s likely to be.
Most Expensive First Offense: (Tie) Georgia, Illinois, North Carolina, Nevada and New Hampshire
These five states all hold drivers liable for a fine of up to $1,000 for a first offense.
Read on at the original post for "The Most Egregious States For Speeding Tickets In The US."

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Detroit bankruptcy on hold, Snyder admin. smacked down by judge for "cheating good people who work"

FRI JUL 19, 2013 AT 01:09 PM PDT

Detroit bankruptcy on hold, Snyder admin. smacked down by judge for "cheating good people who work"

Yesterday afternoon, Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, with the blessing of Governor Rick Snyder, filed bankruptcy paperwork for the city at 4:06 p.m. An emergency hearing by attorneys representing city pensioners was scheduled for 4:00 p.m. in the court room of Ingham County Judge Rosemarie Aquilina. The attorneys were asked by the legal team for Governor Snyder and Kevyn Orr for a five-minute delay on the 4:00 p.m. meeting. In that time, the bankruptcy paperwork was filed, making the emergency hearing moot.

An attorney for the pension funds who was seeking a temporary restraining order in Ingham County to block the historic bankruptcy filing said he felt blindsided because he agreed to delay an emergency hearing by five minutes at the request of attorneys for Snyder.
During those five minutes, he said, attorneys filed the bankruptcy petition in Detroit, which generally results in a stay in all other pending lawsuits involving the city. Ingham County Judge Rosemarie Aquilina later issued a temporary restraining order preventing further actions to cut pension benefits, but said she would have issued one to stop the bankruptcy filing altogether, if given the chance.
The judge said the bankruptcy filing was made at 4:06 p.m., five minutes before her emergency hearing began.
A furious Ronald King, a lawyer representing Detroit’s General Retirement System and the Detroit Police and Fire Retirement System, said he agreed to the five-minute delay that he now believes was not requested in good faith.
The basis for the emergency hearing was a pending lawsuit claiming that the bankruptcy is illegal because public employee pensions are protected by the state constitution. And they are:
Title IX § 24 - Public pension plans and retirement systems, obligation.
The accrued financial benefits of each pension plan and retirement system of the state and its political subdivisions shall be a contractual obligation thereof which shall not be diminished or impaired thereby.
Financial benefits arising on account of service rendered in each fiscal year shall be funded during that year and such funding shall not be used for financing unfunded accrued liabilities.
Judge Aquilina is furious. In a hearing today, she put an immediate halt to the State's effort to take Detroit into bankruptcy:
Ruling that the governor and Detroit’s emergency manager violated the state constitution, an Ingham County Circuit judge ordered Friday that Detroit’s federal bankruptcy filing be withdrawn.
“It’s absolutely needed,” said Judge Rosemary Aquilina, observing she hopes Gov. Rick Snyder “reads certain sections of the (Michigan) constitution and reconsiders his actions.” [...]
Prior to her ruling on Friday, she criticized the Snyder administration and Attorney General’s Office for what appeared to be hasty action to outflank pension board attorneys.
“It’s cheating, sir, and it’s cheating good people who work,” the judge told assistant Attorney General Brian Devlin. “It’s also not honoring the (United States) president, who took (Detroit’s auto companies) out of bankruptcy.” […]
Aquilina said she would make sure President Obama got a copy of her order.
“I know he’s watching this,” she said, predicting the president ultimately will have to take action to make sure existing pension commitments are honored.
There's more:
“I have some very serious concerns because there was this rush to bankruptcy court that didn’t have to occur and shouldn’t have occurred,” Aquilina said.
“Plaintiffs shouldn’t have been blindsided,” and “this process shouldn’t have been ignored.” […]
Aquilina said the Michigan Constitution prohibits actions that will lessen the pension benefits of public employees, including those in the City of Detroit. Snyder and Orr violated the constitution by going ahead with the bankruptcy filing, because they know reductions in those benefits will result, Aquilina said.
“We can’t speculate what the bankruptcy court might order,” said assistant Attorney General Brian Devlin, representing the governor and other state defendants.
“It’s a certainty, sir,” Aquilina replied. “That’s why you filed for bankruptcy.”
Tea party Attorney General Bill Schuette has now involved himself and is appealing the Judge's rulings to the Court of Appeals.
While I am still in support of the City of Detroit going through a managed bankruptcy, this sort of childish "Neener, neener, I win!" stunt to file paperwork before a hearing could take place is insulting on so many levels. If the governor and his Detroit overseer are within their legal rights to file bankruptcy, they should let the legal process play out. There are real people's lives at stake here, people who rely on their pensions to survive and have no other income outside of government assistance. They must be protected. They should be seen as Too Important to Fail.
Instead, Governor Snyder and his administration seem intent on playing whatever games are necessary to keep them from being heard.
I'm embarrassed that our state government is playing games like this with people's lives and you can be very sure that as Election Day 2014 roles around, you will hear about this stunt again and again at Eclectablog.
When they said that Detroit was under an "excessive heat warning" today, they most certainly were NOT kidding.
Stay tuned. This is very far from over.
P.S. This week is our 3rd Quarter fundraiser at Eclectablog. If you'd like to help support citizen journalism in its purest form, stop by and drop some folding money or couch change in the tip jar. Thanks!



Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sunday, July 14, 2013

100s Protest Zimmerman Verdict in San Francisco / Live Feed Chicago Protest

 USA Today, 12:26 a.m. EDT July 14, 2013 'System has failed': Crowds react to Zimmerman verdict

SANFORD, Fla. — Demonstrators exclaimed disbelief, one by one, as they learned on Saturday night that George Zimmerman was found not guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin.
At 10:02 p.m. ET "Justice for Trayvon!" chants erupted from fist-waving people at the fountain across from the courthouse.
"The system has failed!" irate demonstrators started chanting.
The waiting game under way for the hundreds of protesters anticipating a verdict outside the Seminole County Criminal Justice Center was finally over. . . .
[Click to continue story at USA Today site.]

NBC Bay Area: July 14, 2013, 12:45 EDT

Local Activist Groups Protest Zimmerman Verdict

About 200 people protest in San Francisco following not-guilty verdict in George Zimmerman trial in Florida

[Click to continue story at NBC Bay Area site; photo above.]

The Grio: July 14, 2013: Chicagoans, Rev. Jesse Jackson react to Zimmerman not guilty verdict

 Birmingham News: July 13, 2013:

Occupy Wall Street live-streams Chicago march protesting Zimmerman verdict (live-streaming)

Bill Fletcher: July 14, 2013: Zimmerman and the hunting of Black Folks

    *  *  *
Benjamin Todd Jealous, NAACP Statement & Petition:
NAACP supporters,

A jury in Sanford, Florida has found George Zimmerman not guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin.

I know I am not alone in my outrage, anger, and heartbreak over this decision. When a teenager's life is taken in cold blood, and there is no accountability for the man who killed him, nothing seems right in the world, but we cannot let these emotions alone rule.

In these most challenging of times, we are called to act. There is work left to be done to achieve justice for Trayvon. The Department of Justice can still address the violation of Trayvon's most fundamental civil right — the right to life, and we are urging them to do so.

Sign our petition to the Department of Justice. Tell them to file civil rights charges against George Zimmerman.

We continue to grieve the loss of Trayvon with his parents, his family, and all who loved him. Do not forget what brought us to this day.

George Zimmerman was arrested and charged because we would not back down when he was initially released. The Sanford Police Chief was removed from his post because we voiced our disbelief that he would overrule his detectives and block George Zimmerman's arrest.

And, perhaps most importantly, not a single state has passed a "stand your ground" law in 2013 — the first time in eight years — because we refuse to let the memory of Trayvon fade from the hearts and minds of America.

So, now we have a choice: We can be felled by our sorrows over the jury's decision, or we can turn our frustration into action. We can demand the Department of Justice address the travesties of this tragedy. We can take a step forward in our efforts to finally end racial profiling in America once and for all. What will you do, NAACP supporters?

For Trayvon Martin, for his family, and for all parents who suffer the horror of burying a child, sign our petition to the Department of Justice:

Thank you,


Benjamin Todd Jealous
President and CEO

NY Amsterdam News, July 14, 2013, 1:10 AM: Black community responds to acquittal of George Zimmerman

Michael Moore tweets:

"Had a gun-toting Trayvon Martin stalked an unarmed George Zimmerman,
and then shot him to death... DO I EVEN NEED TO COMPLETE
THIS SENTENCE?" – Michael Moore 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

BREAKING: Jury Says Zimmerman Not Guilty

The five white women of six women jury delivered their verdict:

George Zimmerman not guilty. Daily Kos

Other post verdict posted news: NBC News: IT director who alleged evidence withheld from Zimmerman defense fired

Fire Dog Lake: Zimmerman Verdict: Not Guilty– Livestream

Fire Dog Lake LiveStream: Zimmerman Verdict: Not Guilty

At Democratic My prayers to the family of Trayvon Martin at this difficult time!

* * *

This is about race. This majority white jury did not reflect the African-American experience.

This blogger is of the opinion that the prosecution did not put up a strong, spirited case, built for the Trayvon Martin's family. And some of the MSNBC commentators are now saying this.

Commenter notes that felony disenfranchisement bars ex-felons from serving on juries.

It is disappointing that this is the law for people that have already done their time, and that they are banned from serving on juries once they are free and back in society.

Friday, July 12, 2013

BREAKING: Snowden in Moscow, Quiet in Russia Temp. Asylum Request

(Click to link to narrative paragraphs on Tanya Lokshina's photo at Sheremetyo Airport)
Snowden wants Russia asylum, lawmaker says, Associated Press VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV, AP News

MOSCOW (AP) — National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden wants asylum in Russia and is willing to stop sharing information as a trade-off for such a deal, according to a parliament member who was among a dozen activists and officials to meet with him Friday.

Snowden appeared nervous, but in apparently good health during the meeting behind closed doors in the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport where he's been marooned for weeks, Duma member Vyacheslav Nikonov told reporters.

A photo attributed to a Human Rights Watch representative who attended the meeting was posted on the Guardian and other websites, the first image to appear of Snowden since the newspaper broke the story of widespread U.S. Internet surveillance based on his leaks.

Dmitry Peskov, President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, told Russian news agencies after the announcement Friday that Russia has not yet received a new bid for asylum from Snowden and that Putin would continue with his insistence that Snowden stop leaking information.

Both Nikonov and Genri Reznik, a lawyer who participated in the meeting, said Snowden was willing to stop leaks.

"He said he was informed of this condition and that he can easily accept it. He does not intend to damage the United States' interests given that he is a patriot of his country," Nikonov said.

Snowden is believed to have been stuck in the transit zone since June 23, when he arrived on a flight from Hong Kong, where he had gone before his revelations were made public. He had been expected to transfer in Moscow to a Cuba-bound flight, but did not get on the plane and had not been seen in public since then.

Snowden made an initial bid for Russian asylum, but Putin said he would have to agree to stop leaking before asylum would be considered. Snowden then withdrew his bid.

Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua recently have offered him asylum, but it is unclear if he could fly to any of those countries from Moscow without passing through airspace of the United States or its allies.

. . .

Go to Yahoo News for the conclusion of the AP story.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

State Trooper Forcibly Remove Woman from Texas Hearing on Reproductive Health, Video

From Daily Kos, July 9: Click here for the Youtube video of the woman's presentation at a Texas senate committee hearing, and the state trooper's forcible removal of the woman. and here for the parade of cheering supporters.

This is a quick interview with the woman featured in the video posted by annrose
Feel free to ignore any questions you would not care to respond to no explanation needed. Also feel free to add anything you would like to say that I don't cover or ask about.
First off, what was your prepared statement?
I'd prepared a statement outlining Milla Perry Jones, sister of Governor Rick Perry's involvement as head lobbyist for allied surgical centers and doctor-owned hospitals. As the Texas Observer explained its Dec 2012 "Sister Act" article, doctor owned facilities are notorious for driving up costs because of financial incentive to overcharge for tests, procedures, services. They've thrown over $4,000,000 dollars at Texas politics and now HB2/SB1 would mandate upgrades that benefit yet another industry the Perrys have ties to.
Did they explain why you were forcibly removed?
There was no explanation. Senator Jane Nelson tried to say I was being disrespectful but how would she know? I barely got to give the complete performance review of every member on the committee. Pointing out that Sen. Donna Campbell is an ophthalmologist is not disrespectful when she asserts in a state hearing that she should be THE expert on reproductive health. What was disrespectful was the parade of anti-choice zealots and misogynists who got up for 13 hours and called women murderers, killers, promiscuous, thoughtless, and selfish. Not a peep from committee chair Nelson on those.
Are you going to pursue legal action for the First Amendment violation involved in removing you and stopping you from petitioning your government for redress?
I haven't decided yet, I am currently talking with people in Austin about that possibility.
What has your reception been like after speaking in your community?
The first reaction was a true shock. And that was the hundreds of people who applauded me as I was escorted out of Capitol and who stayed with me so police couldn't isolate me. You can see some of it here. Parade as girl is escorted out of testimony Next, I came home to hundreds of new followers on social media. And finally, the texts, tweets, emails, and phone calls haven't stopped from friends and family alike. Texans are as angry as I sounded. We don't benefit at all from the polite oppression of Texas legislature "decorum". Dissent and rebellion continue to drive this fight.
Would you like to share the process of getting to the microphone to speak?
I drove from Central Texas at 5:30 am and testified at little after 11pm.  It was a long day but I and many others have been used to it since our first citizen's filibuster on June 20th. Hours of watching antichoicers insult and talk to women, watching awful pseudoscience continued to enrage me. Finally, after I saw a woman named Vanessa (@lochnessa) testify angrily about the heartbreaking medically necessary abortion she had to have after countless IVF attempts, I knew I had to rewrite. Their baby had rare form of spina bifida and a 20 week ban would have hurt them. After she spoke an antichoice next to her cruelly said "I know people who adopted two children with spina bifida". Not a word from the chair. I scrapped my speech and began a rewrite that would call out each member of committee for their lack of expertise or past bad record on women's health. Took about 5 more hours until I was finally called along with the rest of Group 6.
Are you intending to run for office in the future?
I have worked on 2 gubernatorial campaigns and one presidential campaign. I haven't really liked what I've seen of the candidate life but if any group of people felt I could help, I'd consider it.
Addendum, a letter from medical professionals to the politicians interfering in their profession.



Thursday, July 4, 2013

Egypt's military has ousted Morsi - What does this portend for Egyptian democracy?

Yes, the Muslim Brotherhood's Presdient Mohammed Morsi was curbing democratic rights, firstmost, the rights of protestors.

But having the military secure democracy is a risky thing.

Is Egypt inching towards becoming the next Algeria, a state which cancels electoral results if Islamists win?

On the other hand, I share the great feelings of discomfort that liberal Egyptians have expressed over the inching power-grab on the part of Morsi.

Links to pursue:

Egypt army cracks down on Muslim Brotherhood: Leadership of toppled president Morsi's Islamist movement arrested, as top judge takes office as interim leader:

Egypt swears in Mansour as interim leader after Morsi ousted:
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