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Member since: Tue Jan 6, 2004, 12:46 PM
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Homeland Security limits ties with Arizona's Sheriff Joe Arpaio


In a statement, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said her department was ending one agreement with Arpaio’s Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and restricting the office’s access to another Homeland Security program.

“Discrimination undermines law enforcement and erodes the public trust,” Napolitano said. “DHS will not be a party to such practices. Accordingly, and effective immediately, DHS is terminating MCSO's 287(g) jail model agreement and is restricting the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office access to the Secure Communities program.”

U.S. Rep. Raul M. Grijalva, who represents part of Maricopa County, praised Homeland Security for terminating Maricopa County's participation in the 287(g) jail program, saying it underscored how serious the Justice Department’s findings were.

“It's been used wrongly and in a very abusive way,” Grijalva, longtime critic of the sheriff, said in an interview.

'Dismal' prospects: 1 in 2 Americans are now poor or low income


Squeezed by rising living costs, a record number of Americans — nearly 1 in 2 — have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income.

The latest census data depict a middle class that's shrinking as unemployment stays high and the government's safety net frays. The new numbers follow years of stagnating wages for the middle class that have hurt millions of workers and families.

"Safety net programs such as food stamps and tax credits kept poverty from rising even higher in 2010, but for many low-income families with work-related and medical expenses, they are considered too 'rich' to qualify," said Sheldon Danziger, a University of Michigan public policy professor who specializes in poverty.

"The reality is that prospects for the poor and the near poor are dismal," he said. "If Congress and the states make further cuts, we can expect the number of poor and low-income families to rise for the next several years."

Robert Reich on Countdown with Keith Olbermann


In Budget Negotiations, White House Throws A Curve Ball On Omnibus Bill


In a move that could dramatically shake up late-stage budget negotiations in Congress, the White House on Wednesday night issued a public statement alerting lawmakers that the administration was not comfortable with the current contours of a deal.

White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer once again urged Congress to pass a short-term extension of the current federal budget so that negotiations over a long-term appropriations bill could continue. There were, Pfeiffer said, several unresolved issues with the long-term omnibus bill, chief among them policy riders that would alter previously passed legislation and compromise executive powers.

"The President continues to have significant concerns about a number of provisions that have been reported to be in the Republican agreement on the omnibus," the statement read. "This includes provisions that would undermine Wall Street reforms, enact extreme social and ideological riders, undercut environmental protections, and threaten the foreign policy prerogatives of the President. Given the magnitude of the legislation -- providing over $1 trillion dollars in funding -- coupled with the unresolved payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance extension, Congress should pass a short-term continuing resolution as it has seven times already this year so that all parties have an appropriate opportunity to consider and complete all of the critical budget and economic issues necessary to finish our responsibilities for the year."

Pressed for specifics, an administration official highlighted two examples of language in the omnibus bill that the White House found problematic. The official described these examples as "undermining Wall Street reform by not adequately funding (the Commodity Futures Trading Commission)and impinging on the President's power to conduct foreign policy in this case with regards to Cuba policy." (The omnibus, as currently envisioned, would reinstate restrictions on travel to Cuba that were loosened by the president in 2009).


Congresswoman Barbara Lee Speaks out Against the National Defense Authorization Act

Congresswoman Barbara Lee speaking on the House Floor 12-14-2011.

Human Rights Watch accuses Alabama of violating constitution

Human Rights Watch says law HB56 breaches rights that apply to anyone living in America regardless of their origin

Alabama is systematically violating US and international conventions by depriving undocumented immigrants of equal protection under the law, according to Human Rights Watch.

The watchdog recorded evidence of several cases of unauthorised immigrants who had wages withheld by employers and felt they were unable to take their grievance to court because of the new provision. One man, Alejandro, sought the advice of a lawyer but was told tha because of the new law he could not use the courts to retrieve the wages.

Human Rights Watch said this sent a clear message to employers that they did not need to fear legal redress from employees they had abused. That, the watchdog has pointed out, is a clear breach both of the US constitution and of international law.


Email trail leads to James Murdoch

Exchanges cast fresh doubt on claim he was unaware of extent of hacking

James Murdoch's repeated assertion that he was never shown evidence that phone hacking at his company went beyond a "rogue reporter" was dramatically undermined last night. An internal email that he was sent, suggesting hacking was "rife" at the News Of The World and talking of a "nightmare scenario" of multiple victims, was released by a Commons committee.

The presumed heir to the Murdoch empire has insisted during two bruising appearances before MPs that he was not told of crucial information in 2008 that proved hacking was widespread at the Sunday tabloid. He accused the paper's former editor, Colin Myler, and its chief lawyer, Tom Crone, of being "misleading" when they said he was made privy to those details.

But a News International email released yesterday challenges those claims. It shows that Mr Murdoch, who was in charge of the media group at the time, was provided with a chain of messages from Mr Myler and Mr Crone accepting that the NOTW had made use of intercepted voicemails left for Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of Professional Footballers' Association, and was facing a disastrous prospect of a public claim that it had covered up the true extent of hacking.

In a sign of the seriousness with which Mr Myler was taking the situation, he offered Mr Murdoch an "update" and warned: "Unfortunately it is as bad as we feared." The line suggests that, contrary to Mr Murdoch's repeated recollection, both men had already discussed the case in some depth.

James Murdoch: I didn't read crucial phone-hacking email

Pennsylvania GOP’s Budget Cuts Mean Police Response To 911 Calls Could Take Days

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) has consistently advocated for steep budget cuts that compromise public safety and essential government services. For instance, he signed into law a budget that slashed education funding by $900 million. Instead of lawnmowers, one school district had to resort to using sheep to cut grass.

Now, The Patriot-News reports that the state’s proposed budget cuts could force the Pennsylvania State Police to layoff 500 state troopers. As a result, Pennsylvanians who call 911 for emergency assistance may have to wait days before the police can respond:

Imagine calling 911 for the Pennsylvania State Police and not seeing a trooper for hours, even days.


An internal department document obtained by The Patriot-News forecasts the potential for 400 to 500 trooper layoffs under a budget proposal to trim the department’s spending. That’s approximately 10 percent of the nearly 4,400 troopers currently employed by the department. The cuts would also force stations around the state to close.


Occupy Activists to Meet With Progressive Lawmakers

An Occupy Wall Street group will take to the House later this week, only this time the meeting is a planned occasion with the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Ten organizers from New York’s OWS group will speak to the caucus about their legislative priorities, according to an email sent to Members and obtained by Roll Call.

“This is the very first meeting of national occupy organizers and members to discuss specific legislation in the country,” the email to Members states.

An aide with knowledge of the meeting said the protesters “are uniquely concerned with getting money out of politics and with a jobs agenda.” The aide also said OWS representatives “may be reaching out to other caucuses both Republican and Democrat in the future.”


State Sen.Lieu: Lowe's 'bigoted' for pulling 'All-American Muslim' ads

A California state senator called on home improvement chain Lowe's to apologize for pulling advertising from a TV show featuring the lives of Muslim families.

Lowe's pulled advertising from Discovery Channel/TLC's "All-American Muslim" after the Florida Family Assn. complained about the show, which it called "propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values.”

State Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) wrote a letter Saturday to Lowe's Chief Executive Officer Robert A. Niblock in which he called the decision to pull advertising from the show "bigoted, shameful, and un-American" and "profoundly ignorant." He demanded that the company rescind its action and apologize or face boycotts and legislative action.

"Lowe’s religious discrimination is the equivalent of a company asserting that it is pulling advertising from the Christian Broadcast Network’s 700 Club because the program somehow 'riskily hides' the agenda of Christian radicalized groups such as Aryan Nation," Lieu wrote. "That assertion would, of course, be utter nonsense and religious bigotry."

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