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Member since: Tue Jan 6, 2004, 12:46 PM
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Durbin Responds to Critics of ‘Stand Your Ground’ Queries


Durbin criticized the Chicago Tribune editorial board and others in an opinion piece published Wednesday.

“The Tribune editorial page and others attacked me for trying to hinder free speech and use my position to intimidate those with political views I disagree with,” Durbin wrote. “The Tribune and others are wrong.

“ALEC and its corporate and organizational supporters have every right to participate in the political process. My concern is with the lack of transparency. As a public official, when I take a position, I stand up to explain and defend it,” he added. “I file annual financial disclosures, campaign finance reports and have to face the scrutiny of public opinion.”

Durbin has announced plans for a hearing next month on the issue of “stand your ground laws” by the Judiciary subcommittee he serves as chairman of. In the Tribune piece, Durbin said that his queries were to gather information in advance of the hearing.

Corporate Lobbying Group ALEC Put Falsified Signatures On A Letter To A Senator, Group Finds

Sen. Sanders: Here's the simple truth


Corporate Lobbying Group ALEC Put Falsified Signatures On A Letter To A Senator, Group Finds

This week, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) sent Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) a letter that claimed the Senator’s investigation into ALEC’s involvement “Stand Your Ground” laws was a form of “intimidation.” The letter was supposed to have carried the clout of about 300 state legislators who signed onto it, but, according to an investigation by progressive group by ProgressNow, many of the signatures on that letter were falsified or duplicated.

ALEC has come under intense scrutiny for its involvement in orchestrating passage of Stand Your Ground in several states. The law became a hotbed of controversy in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s death. Though it wasn’t ultimately used in killer George Zimmerman’s defense, Stand Your Ground allowed Zimmerman to walk free on the night of the killing, turned out to be central to the case at trial, and was cited by one of six jurors as a justification for his acquittal.

After the Zimmerman verdict was announced, Durbin said that he would conduct an inquiry in ALEC’s involvement in the bill.

The group hit back Monday with a letter that tried to discredit Durbin’s inquiry. The group said it was signed by 293 elected officials. But, ProgressNow found, 55 of the signatures are “blatantly invalid.”


Quinnipiac poll released Tuesday:Bill De Blasio Leads In New NYC Mayoral Poll

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is the latest frontrunner in the New York City mayoral election, according to a Quinnipiac poll released Tuesday. The poll found De Blasio leading the crucial Democratic primary with 30 percent compared to 24 percent for City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and 22 percent for former Comptroller Bill Thompson.

Former Congressman Anthony Weiner was in fourth place with 10 percent and has not been at the front of the pack since news of his latest sexting scandal broke last month.

The polls in the New York City mayoral race have varied wildly over the past few months with Quinn, Weiner, and now De Blasio all spending time in first place. New York City law provides that, if no candidate in the primary earns at least 40 percent of the vote, there will be a runoff between the top two finishers. Tuesday's Quinnipiac poll also found De Blasio would beat Quinn, Thompson, or Weiner in a runoff matchup. Throughout the race, polling has showed all of the Republican candidates are far behind the leading Democrats in a hypothetical general election.


De Blasio Leads See-Saw New York City Mayoral Race, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Stop-And-Frisk Could Be Helping New Front-Runner

Bill de Blasio Is Having a Nice Day in the Press

“As many learned in May, he lives in Park Slope with his multiracial family, and talks a lot about inequality.”

So noted a New Republic story this evening on Public Advocate Bill de Blasio’s sudden surge in the polls.

As Mr. de Blasio’s campaign was quick to note as well, the national page of The Huffington Post–one of the most popular left-leaning news sites around–featured the Democratic hopeful under the headline “PROGRESSIVE SURGES IN NYC.” And even the right–leaning Drudge Report took note with its own take on the headline: “Lefty surges in NYC Mayor’s race.”

To top it all, “de Blasio” is currently trending on Twitter.

Michael Moore: What Bradley Manning's Sentence Will Tell Us About Our Military Justice System

Today Bradley Manning was convicted on 20 of 22 counts, including violating the Espionage Act, releasing classified information and disobeying orders. That's the bad news. The good news is he was found not guilty on the charge of "aiding the enemy." That's 'cause who he was aiding was us, the American people. And we're not the enemy. Right?

Manning now faces a potential maximum sentence of 136 years in jail. When his sentence is announced tomorrow, we'll all get a good idea of how seriously the U.S. military takes different crimes. When you hear about how long Manning – now 25 years old – will be in prison, compare it to sentences received by other soldiers:

Col. Thomas M. Pappas, the senior military intelligence officer at Abu Ghraib and the senior officer present the night of the murder of Iraqi prisoner Manadel al-Jamadi, received no jail time. But he was reprimanded and fined $8,000. (Pappas was heard to say about al-Jamadi, "I'm not going down for this alone.")

Sgt. Sabrina Harman, the woman famously seen giving a thumbs-up next to al-Jamadi's body and in another photo smiling next to naked, hooded Iraqis stacked on each other in Abu Ghraib, was sentenced to six months for maltreating detainees.

Spec. Armin Cruz was sentenced to eight months for abusing Iraqis at Abu Ghraib and covering up the abuse.

Spc. Steven Ribordy was sentenced to eight months for being accessory to the murder of four Iraqi prisoners who were "bound, blindfolded, shot and dumped in a canal" in Baghdad in 2007.

Spc. Belmor Ramos was sentenced to seven months for conspiracy to commit murder in the same case.

Sgt. Michael Leahy Jr. was sentenced to life in prison for committing the four Baghdad murders. The military then granted him clemency and reduced his sentence to 20 years, with parole possible after seven.

Marine Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich received no jail time for negligent dereliction in the massacre of 24 unarmed men, women and children in 2005 in the Iraqi town of Haditha. Seven other members of his battalion were charged but none were punished in any way.

Marine Lance Cpl. Jerry Shumate and Lance Cpl. Tyler Jackson were both sentenced to 21 months for the aggravated assault of Hashim Ibrahim Awad, 52, a father of 11 and grandfather of four, in Al Hamdania in 2006. Awad died after being shot during the assault. Their sentences were later reduced.

Marine Lance Cpl. Robert Pennington was sentenced to eight years for the same incident, but served only a few months before being granted clemency and released from prison.

Marine Sgt. Lawrence G. Hutchins III was sentenced to 15 years for murder in the Awad case but his conviction was soon overturned and he was released.

No soldiers received any punishment for the killing of five Iraqi children, four women and two men in one Ishaqi home in 2006. Among the U.S. diplomatic cables leaked by Bradley Manning was email from a UN official stating that U.S. soldiers had "executed all of them." When Wikileaks published the cable, the uproar in Iraq was so big that the Nouri al-Maliki government couldn't grant any remaining U.S. troops immunity from prosecution in Iraqi courts, thus forcing the Obama administration to abandon its plans to keep several thousand U.S. soldiers in Iraq permanently. All U.S. troops were removed at the end of 2011.

My guess is Bradley Manning will spend more time in jail than all of the other soldiers in all of these cases put together. And thus, instead of redeeming ourselves and asking forgiveness for the crimes that Spc. Manning exposed, we will reaffirm to the world who we really are.


Finally Some Good News: Disabled Puppy Learns to Walk


The last few weeks have been pretty gloomy around these parts, so here's a very necessary reminder that there are still some positive things taking place in the world.

Take, for example, the story of a six-week-old Boston Terrier named Mick.

The poor pup was born with a cute-sounding-but-actually-pretty-nasty disorder called Swimmer Puppy Syndrome.

Due to his condition, Mick was unable to sit, stand, or walk.


Trayvon Martin’s Father To Speak On Capitol Hill Wednesday

Tracy Martin, Trayvon Martin's father, will be on Capitol Hill Wednesday afternoon to provide the opening remarks to a hearing of the newly formed Congressional Caucus on Black Men and Boys.

The hearing, entitled "The Status of Black Males: Ensuring Our Boys Mature Into Strong Men," will be the caucus' first, according to a press release from co-chairs Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Danny Davis (D-IL).

The witnesses scheduled to testify are David Johns, executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans; Michael Eric Dyson, professor at Georgetown University; and Kweisi Mfume, former congressman and Congressional Black Caucus chairman and former NAACP president.


Norton and Davis Announce Tracy Martin, Father of Trayvon Martin, will Join Inaugural Congressional Caucus on Black Men and Boys Hearing, Tomorrow

WASHINGTON, DC –Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Congressman Danny Davis (D-IL) announced that Tracy Martin, the father of Trayvon Martin, will attend and give opening remarks at the inaugural hearing of the Congressional Caucus on Black Men and Boys, entitled “The Status of Black Males: Ensuring Our Boys Mature Into Strong Men,” tomorrow, Wednesday, July 24, 2013, from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., in Rayburn House Office Building 2237 (House Judiciary Committee Hearing Room). The newly formed Caucus is co-chaired by Norton and Davis. Norton spoke with the Martin’s family attorney, Benjamin Crump, who confirmed Martin will be able to attend and offer remarks.

The hearing, which is open to the public and the media, will also feature three prominent Black men, each speaking on a stage in the life of an African American male in the U.S. today – David Johns, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, on issues facing black boys; Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, author and Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University, on issues confronting Black youth; and Kweisi Mfume, former Congressman, Congressional Black Caucus Chair and President of the NAACP, on manhood. Members of the Caucus will question the witnesses following their testimony.


Helen Thomas: Pics

Thomas speaks to President Lyndon B. Johnson during a news conference in the White House Oval Office on April 25, 1968.

Thomas, third right, takes notes as President John F. Kennedy speaks on the phone in the Oval Office on August 23, 1962.

Thomas, right, walks behind President Richard Nixon and a large group in China on February 1, 1972.

Obama surprises Thomas with cupcakes to celebrate her birthday in the White House briefing room on August 4, 2009. Thomas and Obama share the same birthday.

President Jimmy Carter and press secretary Jody Powell, right, chat with reporters, including Thomas, on Air Force One on October 20, 1979.

Thomas poses for photographers as she leaves the White House on October 16, 2007.

President Bill Clinton and Thomas blow out candles during a surprise 75th birthday party for Thomas in the briefing room at the White House on August 4, 1995.

In this Oct. 1, 1971, file photo first lady Pat Nixon motions to Helen Thomas, left, and Douglas B. Cornell to join her on a platform at a White House reception. Thomas, the irrepressible White House correspondent who scooped so many, was herself scooped by the first lady who announced their engagement near the end of the impromptu reception. Thomas, who used her seat in the front row of history to grill nine presidents and was not shy about sharing her opinions, died Saturday, July 20, 2013. She was 92. (AP Photo/File)

Rest In Peace, you will be missed!

more pics at links

Cecile Richards: Go, NC! The Capitol balcony is filled to overflowing with supporters

The Capitol balcony is filled to overflowing with supporters #moralmonday #standwithncwomen

Go, NC! RT @Bflo2LKN The Capitol balcony is filled to overflowing with supporters



Formed a circle & asked all young boys 2 come 2 center & we held them. THESE R OUR BOYS!

'The Wire' creator on Zimmerman verdict: 'The season on African-Americans now runs year round'

David Simon — co-creator of The Wire, co-creator of Tremé, card-carrying Person With Thoughts To Share — has some thoughts to share about Trayvon Martin. In a blog post titled simply “Trayvon,” Simon has written his reaction to the George Zimmerman verdict.

“You can stand your ground if you’re white, and you can use a gun to do it. But if you stand your ground with your fists and you’re black, you’re dead,” Simon notes. “In the state of Florida, the season on African-Americans now runs year round. Come one, come all. And bring a handgun.” He continues:

“If I were a person of color in Florida, I would pick up a brick and start walking toward that courthouse in Sanford. Those that do not, those that hold the pain and betrayal inside and somehow manage to resist violence — these citizens are testament to a stoic tolerance that is more than the rest of us deserve. I confess, their patience and patriotism is well beyond my own … Tonight, anyone who truly understands what justice is and what it requires of a society is ashamed to call himself an American.“


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