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Member since: Mon Dec 19, 2011, 06:17 PM
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Journal Archives

Texas School Bans 50% Students From Speaking Native Language

Karades, D. (2013, December 2). Hempstead students say principal tried to ban them from speaking Spanish. Retrieved from http://www.khou.com/news/local/Hempstead-students-say-principal-tried-to-ban-them-from-speaking-Spanish-234172961.html

“People don’t want to speak it no more, and they don’t want to get caught speaking it because they’re going to get in trouble,” said sixth-grade student Kiara Lozano.

A number of students believe the principal’s announcement has given some teachers and fellow classmates a hall pass to discriminate.

“There’s one teacher that said, if you speak Spanish in my class, I’m going to write you up,” said eighth-grader Tiffani Resurez.

More than 50 percent of the students enrolled at Hempstead Middle School are Hispanic. That’s according to greatschools.org.

Students said the school has not resolved the confusion surrounding the principal’s attempt to ban the Spanish language in class.

“She was like no speaking Spanish,” explained eighth-grader Yedhany Gallegos. “I was like that’s my first language. She said, well you can get out.”

Gallegos and many of her classmates grew up speaking Spanish at home. She said speaking Spanish with her friends at school comes as second nature.

Some parents feel the district has yet to get to the root of the problem.

“Why are you punishing our children like this?” asked mother Cynthia Zamora.

Associated Press. (2013, December 3). Principal Forbids Students From Speaking Spanish. Retrieved http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/principal-forbids-students-speaking-spanish-21089080

A Texas middle school principal has been placed on paid leave after she banned the speaking of Spanish by students while in class.

A Hempstead school district spokeswoman confirms that Amy Lacey has been placed on leave pending investigation of her Nov. 12 announcement on the intercom at Hempstead Middle School.

More than 50 percent of the school enrollment of about 330 students is Hispanic. KHOU-TV (http://bit.ly/...) of Houston reports a letter sent by the district to school parents assured that neither the district nor any campus has any policy banning speaking Spanish.

Edwards, D. (2013, December 4). Texas principal bans Hispanic students from speaking Spanish to ‘prevent disruptions’. Retrieved from http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/12/04/texas-principal-bans-hispanic-students-from-speaking-spanish-to-prevent-disruptions/

A group of students told KHOU that Hempstead Middle School Principal Amy Lacey announced over the intercom on Nov. 12 that they were no longer to use their native language in order to “prevent disruptions.”

It was over two weeks later before the superintendent sent a letter home insisting that “neither the district or any campus has any policy prohibiting the speaking of Spanish.”

But the students said that the effect of the ban had been chilling.

Note from dsteve01:

Isn't the whole concept of a school to be a place of safety, cultural diversity for students? I met many young hispanics in my generation that cannot speak Spanish because the grandparents refused to teach them the language out of fear for the children ability to adapt.

Who are we to judge these people to the point of forced cultural conversion? Maybe if you actually sat down to learn some Spanish you could better accommodate your students? Examples like the Hempstead school district really bring down the quality of our education system as a whole.

The federal government awards you money to help your students, not force them to adopt your world view. What's the point of this whole exercise in education if you are not enabling your students to participate?

All the best,

Merrill Newman: North Korea POW.

Rocha, A. (2005, May 15). Merrill Newman:They also serve. Retrieved from http://www.paloaltoonline.com/weekly/morgue/2005/2005_05_18.mnewman18.shtml

Although he spent nearly 60 years volunteering for the American Red Cross, Merrill Newman never found himself at the scene of a fire. He never helped in a blood bank; never collected clothes for victims of a tragedy.

When people talk about American Red Cross volunteers, oftentimes it's the disaster teams who steal the spotlight. Everyone wants to hear harrowing tales of leaving on a dime and racing across the states or seas to lend a hand on the frontlines.

Of course, those volunteers are invaluable. There are, however, thousands of others working long hours behind the scenes, keeping the philanthropic machine fueled. They constantly evaluate the organization's services, making sure it's as efficient as possible. They manage the assets, deal with bad fund-raising years, hire the executive directors.

Newman, 76, was part of that quiet force. He served on the Palo Alto Area Chapter's board of the American Red Cross for almost three decades. He also taught CPR and first aid throughout the years and still does.


CNN. (2013, November 20). 85-year-old American stuck in North Korea. Retrieved from


Kleck, Z. (2013, November 21). The former NBA star believes his brand of vodka could be the perfect way to bring Obama and Kim Jong-Un together. Retrieved from http://thediplomat.com/2013/11/dennis-rodman-hopes-his-vodka-will-help-us-north-korea-make-peace/

“Everyone knows (President Barack) Obama drinks beer. But you know what? I’m pretty sure he does have a cocktail here or there. I’d love to see him with a ‘Bad Ass Vodka’ shot in his hand, toasting to Kim Jong (Un) and me.”

“That would be awesome,” Rodman added.

“Just think, it’s up to Dennis Rodman to break ground with North Korea,” Rodman said referring to himself in third person (of course). “I’m the only one in the world who will go talk to this guy and try and find some common ground with these people.”

While admitting that “people don’t believe that,” Rodman also notes that many people believe he should win a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.

“People put that label on me like it’s my responsibility to save the world,” he said in reference to the Nobel Peace Prize. Shockingly, he is prepared to accept such an honor, saying “If it happens to come to that, then yes, I guess I’m all for it. Let’s just all get together and keep everything cool, man.” This is not the first time he’s raised the subject.


JoongAng Daily. (2013, November 21). North may be holding man hostage, reports claim. Retrieved from http://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/news/article/Article.aspx?aid=2980799

North Korea may have detained an elderly American man last month who entered the country on a tourist visa, Kyodo News said on Wednesday, citing an unnamed diplomatic source.

Kyodo, in a report from Beijing, said the possible detention could become another diplomatic bargaining chip for North Korea, which has held Korean-American tour guide Kenneth Bae since November 2012. Bae has been sentenced by the regime to 15 years of hard labor.

U.S. Embassy officials in Beijing and Seoul said they were aware of the reports but could not confirm them.

North Korea claims the man, who allegedly is not of Korean descent, has broken the law, according to Kyodo. The man entered North Korea for sightseeing last month with a valid visa, the diplomatic source was quoted as saying.

“We are aware of reports that a U.S. citizen was detained in North Korea, but we have no additional information to share at this time,” said Nolan Barkhouse, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.


CNN. (2013, November 21). California Man Pulled Off Plane In North Korea, Detained Son Says. Retrieved from


Fisher, M. (2013, November 22). Why did North Korea arrest an 85-year-old American? Here are four possible reasons. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/11/22/why-did-north-korea-arrest-an-85-year-old-american-here-are-four-possible-reasons/

Theory 1: North Korean authorities mistook him for another Merrill Newman.

Theory 2: Newman accidentally crossed some government red line.

Theory 3: North Korea just wanted a new hostage to use as a bargaining chip.

Theory 4: Newman crossed some unknown, more serious line.


Currey, C. (2013, November 22). Did North Korea Detain The Wrong US Korean War Vet?. Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/US/north-korea-detain-wrong-us-war-veteran/story?id=20981395

Authorities have kept Newman's situation quiet for weeks, but former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a former ambassador to the U.N., confirmed to ABC News today he has been in touch with his North Korean contacts working on the situation. The State Department has declined to release details about Newman's status.

Newman was a Korean War veteran, one of many that has gone back to visit North Korea in the decades after their service.

But another North Korean veteran named Merrill H. Newman, age 84, was, until recently, the better-known Merrill Newman. He received a Silver Star for his time in the Korean War.

"The thought entered my head," said Merrill H. Newman, reached at his home in Beaverton, Ore. "The name is the same and there's always that possibility, but I have no way of knowing."

"The thing that has been kicked around by media people, not me, is that I received a Silver Star for 60 years ago in Korea and I have the same name, so the question has come up, could it be that in the process of maybe Googling, like anybody can, and finding that perhaps they thought there was a connection there? I don't know. I have no way of knowing," he said.


Pearson, J. & Dobuzinskis, A. (2013, November 22). American held in North Korea, a case of mistaken identity? Retrieved from http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/11/22/us-korea-north-detention-identity-idUSBRE9AL06620131122

Merrill E. Newman's service record is not on the public record. All that is known is that he was an infantry officer during the war.

"The Korean War was discussed and my dad's role in the service, and the meeting concluded," Jeff Newman told CNN, describing a conversation between his father and North Korean officials the night before he was due to return home.

North Korea is technically at war with the United States after an armistice rather than a peace treaty ended the conflict.

It was not possible to confirm whether an internet search did take place with North Korean officials, although people who visit the North regularly said they had similar experiences with screening and there were cases of mistaken identity.

"I have been emailed before by someone from a DPRK embassy who has searched on the internet and found something they consider to be undesirable linked to someone with the same name as a tourist whose visa I have applied for," Hannah Barraclough, tourism manager at Beijing-based Koryo Tours, told Reuters.


Rauhala, E. (2013 November 22). 85-Year-Old U.S. Veteran Detained in North Korea May Not Be Home for Thanksgiving. Retrieved from http://news.yahoo.com/85-old-u-veteran-detained-north-korea-may-191835268.html

Glyn Davies, U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, seemed frustrated that the DPRK has yet to name their terms. Speaking to reporters in Beijing, he framed the incident as an opportunity to re-engage. “North Korea could send a very different signal about its interest in having a different sort of relationship with the United States were it to take that step of releasing our citizens,” he said. “It’s a matter of some wonderment to me that they haven’t yet moved on that.”

Newman’s family, meanwhile, faces the prospect of the holidays without him. “All we want as a family is to have my father, my kids’ grandfather, returned to California so he can be with his family for Thanksgiving.” With no word from Pyongyang, that would be a miracle.


Tuttle, S. (2013, November 23). 85-year-old Korean war vet detained in North Korea. Retrieved from http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/362670

Information has yet to be released as to why Newman was detained or his physical treatment by North Korean authorities. As the U.S. has no diplomatic relations with North Korea, the Swedish Embassy has acted as a mediator between Newman and his family.

Newman was reported to have a heart condition and only brought with him a 10-day supply of his medication to last him through the trip. Though his family sent more of his prescribed medication through the Swedish Embassy, there has been no word yet on whether or not he received it or has access to it.


Feldman, D. & Kearney, L. (2013, November 23). War vet's detention 'hostage taking'. Retrieved from http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/asia/9435254/War-vets-detention-hostage-taking

"The family feels there has been some dreadful misunderstanding leading to his detention and asks that the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) work to settle this issue quickly and to return this 85-year-old grandfather to his anxious, concerned family," she said.

The statement was issued through the retirement home where the Newmans live in the upscale northern California town of Palo Alto.

Their son, Jeff Newman, told Reuters the family remained concerned about his father's health, saying there had been no communication with him since he was taken.

The son's comments came as a State Department official in Washington told reporters that North Korea had confirmed through diplomatic channels its detention of a US citizen, but the official did not identify the person.


CNN. (2013, November 24). Korean war vet detained by Pyongyang. Retrieved from


Woodruff, B. (2013, November 25). Family of Detained American Merrill Newman Worried About His Health in North Korea. Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/International/family-detained-korean-war-vet-merrill-newman-worried/story?id=21000290

Merrill Newman, of Palo Alto, Calif., was pulled from a plane Oct. 26 while preparing to leave the communist nation after a 10-day tour. Newman's family is now stressing over his health because the former finance executive has a heart condition and has run out of medication. Newman's family has sent new pills to officials in Beijing where they were picked up by the Swedish ambassador and flown to Pyongyang.

"We know that the Swedish ambassador picked that up in Beijing and brought it to North Korea and then delivered it to the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but we have no idea whether he's received it," Newman's son, Jeffrey, told ABC News. "We've no contact from him. We know nothing about his status."


CNN. (2013, November 25). American Detained in North Korea—Mistaken Identity?. Retrieved from


LeakSource. (2013, November 30). North Korea Releases Video of Detained US Veteran Merrill Newman Apologizing for Alleged Espionage/War Crimes. Retrieved from https://leaksource.wordpress.com/2013/11/30/north-korea-releases-video-of-detained-us-veteran-merrill-newman-apologizing-for-alleged-espionage-war-crimes/


The Korean Central News Agency released the following report on Saturday:

A relevant institution of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea recently put in custody U.S. citizen Merrill Edward Newman who committed hostile acts against the DPRK after entering the country under the guise of a tourist.

After entering the DPRK as a member of tourists’ group in October he perpetrated acts of infringing upon the dignity and sovereignty of the DPRK and slandering its socialist system, quite contrary to the purpose of tour.

He also committed such crime as trying to look for spies and terrorists who conducted espionage and subversive activities against the DPRK in the area of Mt. Kuwol during the last Fatherland Liberation War as well as their families and descendants and connect them with the “Kuwol Partisan Comrades-in-Arms Association,” an anti-DPRK plot-breeding organization of south Korea.

According to the results of the investigation, he was active as adviser of “Kuwol Unit” of the UN Korea 6th Partisan Regiment part of the Intelligence Bureau of the Command of the U.S. Forces in the Far East since early in 1953. He is a criminal as he masterminded espionage and subversive activities against the DPRK and in this course he was involved in killings of service personnel of the Korean People’s Army and innocent civilians.

The investigation clearly proved Newman’s hostile acts against the DPRK and they were backed by evidence. He admitted all his crimes and made an apology for them.


KCNA. (2013, November 30). Merrill Newman, American vet held in N. Korea, reads apology letter. Retrieved from


Park, J. & Pearson, J. (2013, December 1). Unforgotten fighter of Korean war: U.S. pensioner a POW at 85. Retrieved from http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/01/us-korea-north-partisans-idUSBRE9AT06S20131201

Kim Chang-sun, the former rank-and-file partisan member, recalled Newman as a big American military officer with a warm heart who supervised their training and landing operations.

"He had this U.S. army food box and shared that with us. He stayed with us at a bunker," said Kim, now 81.

"They detained him because he served in the Kuwol regiment. He is just a very bad guy for them," Kim said, referring to the North Korean authorities.

It is not entirely clear why Newman took the risk of visiting North Korea. But evidently the war and his former comrades had left a deep impression on him.

"Kuwolsan was among the most effective guerrilla warfare units," he wrote in a congratulatory message attached to a book published by the Kuwolsan Guerrilla Unit Comrade Association in Seoul.

"I am proud to have served with you."


PressTV. (2013, December 1). US Veteran Confesses To 'Hostile Acts' In North Korea. Retrieved from http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/12/01/337578/american-admits-hostile-acts-in-n-korea/

"As I killed so many civilians and KPA (Korean People's Army) soldiers and destroyed strategic objects in the DPRK during the Korean War, I committed indelible offensive acts against the DPRK government and Korean people," he said.

"The investigation clearly proved Newman's hostile acts against the DPRK, and they were backed by evidence," KCNA added. "He admitted all his crimes and made an apology for them."

"If I go back to (the) USA, I will tell the true features of the DPRK and the life the Korean people are leading," the statement concluded.


CCTV. (2013, December 01). US calls for release of 85-yr-old Korean War veteran. Retrieved from http://english.cntv.cn/program/newsupdate/20131201/101041.shtml

The US is calling on the DPRK to release an 85-year-old American citizen who’s been detained in the country for more than a month.

Retired finance executive Merrill Newman fought in the Korean War 60 years ago. He was taken off a plane on October 26th by DPRK authorities as he was about to leave the country, following a 10-day visit. A US National Security Council spokesperson called for Newman’s immediate release and for him to be reunited with his family, citing his age and health. A US state department official says Swedish diplomats in Pyongyang have visited Newman.

There are reports that the Korean War veteran apologized for his wartime activities during his visit in the DPRK.


DailyMail Online. (2013, December 1). American veteran, 85, held captive in North Korea and forced to read confession is allowed crucial medication. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2516573/Veteran-85-held-captive-North-Korea-getting-medication.html

The Kuwol Regiment was just one of many groups of anti-communist partisans that were under the command of the U.S. Army 8240th Unit, nicknamed the 'White Tigers'.

The White Tigers co-ordinated some of the most daring missions of the Korean War, embedding undercover agents deep in enemy territory - sometimes for months at a time - spying on and disrupting North Korean wartime operations, according to documented histories of the regiment.

The unit, whose existence was classified until the early 1990s, was the predecessor to U.S. special forces. Members of the White Tigers were handpicked from the U.S. Army, and not told about their mission until they arrived in Seoul.


NBC News. (2013, December 1). North Korea Says Detained American Tourist Merrill Newman Apologizes. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/N-Korea-Says-Detained-American-Tourist-Merrill-Newman-Apologizes-233893681.html

SkyNews. (2013, December 1). North Korea: Detained American 'Admits Crimes'. Retrieved from http://news.sky.com/story/1175855/north-korea-detained-american-admits-crimes

Weiss, L. (2013, December 1). US urges North Korea to release detained tourist Merill Newman. Retrieved from http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/363180

SkyNews. (20113, December 1). US Urges Release of Man in North Korea. Retrieved from http://www.skynews.com.au/world/article.aspx?id=929749

SkyNew. (2013, December 1). US Urges 'Immediate Release' of American. Retrieved from http://www.skynews.com.au/world/article.aspx?id=929852.

Pous, T. (2013, December 1). 10 things you need to know today: December 1, 2013. Retrieved from http://theweek.com/article/index/253533/10-things-you-need-to-know-today-december-1-2013

Kumar, A. (2013, December 1). White House Urges N. Korea to Release US Christian Kenneth Bae, 85-Y-O Veteran Merrill Newman. Retrieved from http://www.christianpost.com/news/white-house-urges-n-korea-to-release-us-christian-kenneth-bae-85-y-o-veteran-merrill-newman-109835/

Kim, L. & Gulezian, L. (2013, December 1). Palo Alto man detained in Nkorea served with secret group. Retrieved from http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/local/south_bay&id=9345047

Rauhala, E. (2013, December 1). Detention of 85-Year-Old Hasn’t Stopped Tourists From Traveling to North Korea. Retrieved from http://world.time.com/2013/12/01/detention-of-85-year-old-hasnt-stopped-tourists-from-traveling-to-north-korea/

Wroughton, L. & Kim, J. (2013, December 1). U.S. calls on North Korea to release war veteran. Retrieved from http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/02/us-korea-north-newman-veteran-idUSBRE9B001T20131202

Associated Press. (2013, December 1). Swedish ambassador visits 85-year-old US vet held in North Korea. Retrieved from http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Latest-News-Wires/2013/1201/Swedish-ambassador-visits-85-year-old-US-vet-held-in-North-Korea

MacLeod, C. (2013, December 1). Analysts: U.S. vet held in N. Korea could soon be freed. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/12/01/north-korea-newman-bae/3795137/

Fox News. (2013, December 2). Family of American vet, 85, detained in North Korea hopes for his release. Retrieved from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/12/01/north-korea-says-detained-american-committed-hostile-acts-against-country/

May, P. (2013, December 2). New Details on California Grandfather Held Hostage in North Korea. Retrieved from http://www.dailynews.com/general-news/20131202/new-details-on-california-grandfather-held-hostage-in-north-korea


NBC News.(2013, December 2). Merrill Newman Family: He Is Well in North Korea. Retrieved from http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Merrill-Newman-Family-He-Is-Well-in-North-Korea-233953471.html

We received a report from the State Department today that the Ambassador of Sweden in the DPRK was permitted to visit Merrill Newman on Saturday, November 30th, at the Yanggakdo Hotel in Pyongyang.

We were very pleased to hear that the Ambassador was allowed to pay this first visit to Merrill. We want to thank the Swedish Ambassador and also express appreciation for the cooperation of the DPRK government in allowing the visit to take place. As a result of the visit, we know that Merrill is in good health. He has received the medications that we sent him and medical personnel are checking on his health several times a day. Merrill reports that he is being well treated and that the food is good. As you can imagine, we had been deeply worried about all of these things and today's consular visit has eased our concerns.

Our focus now is on getting him home quickly to join his loved ones, who miss him deeply. We are asking that the DPRK authorities take into account his health and his age and, as an act of humanitarian compassion, allow him to depart immediately for home. All of us want this ordeal to end and for the 85 year-old head of our extended family to be with us once more.

Thank you,

The Newman Family

Top Ten News Stories 11.30.2013

Some guys play video games, but I read news stories. I have a roommate backing me up on the research and I feel like I could get in a good ten stories every day. Please enjoy this series and share it with your friends--I hope to be able to get my virtual studio tech up soon and push these out as custom youtube news videos for liberals like us. I like feedback and I love criticism.
10.) Blodget, H. (2013, November 29). Sorry, Folks, Rich People Actually Don't 'Create The Jobs'. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/rich-people-create-jobs-2013-11

"Rich people create the jobs."

Specifically, by starting and directing America's companies, rich entrepreneurs and investors create the jobs that sustain everyone else.This statement is usually invoked to justify cutting taxes on entrepreneurs and investors. If only we reduce those taxes and regulations, the story goes, entrepreneurs and investors can be incented to build more companies and create more jobs.

This argument ignores the fact that taxes on entrepreneurs and investors are already historically low, even after this year's modest increases. And it ignores the assertions of many investors and entrepreneurs (like me) that they would work just as hard to build companies even if taxes were higher.
9.) Stein, S. & Bendery, J. (2013, November 30). Obama Gets A Second Shot At Getting Health Care Reform Right. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/30/obama-health-care-reform_n_4361679.html

On a technological level, the administration is far ahead of where it stood on Oct. 1 -- an important but hardly remarkable feat considering how bad things were two months ago. Medicare spokeswoman Julie Bataille said that as of the end of November, approximately 50,000 users will be able to use HealthCare.gov concurrently, which will be the equivalent of more than 800,000 during a day.

If user interest exceeds those numbers, the administration has set up “a customer-friendly queuing system which would notify you when to come back to the site and sort of be first in line,” Jeff Zients, President Barack Obama’s point man for rebuilding the website, told reporters in a Tuesday roundtable.
8.) Icarius. (2013, November 27). Study: Conservatives More Likely To Make Up Facts In Order to Justify Their Beliefs. Retrieved from http://iacknowledge.net/study-conservatives-more-likely-to-make-up-facts-in-order-to-justify-their-beliefs/

Two psychologists Brittany Liu and Peter Ditto from the University of California-Irvine conducted a study to evaluate how liberals and conservatives dealt with so called hard truths in areas that they may not be prone to believing because of their ideologies. The study looked at four areas – two of these areas are supported by liberals and detested by conservatives and two are supported by conservatives and detested by liberals:

#1 – Educating kids on condoms

#2 – Embryonic stem cell research

#3 – The death penalty

#4 – Water boarding captives

Even though both liberals and conservatives alike had a tendency to rationalize their views … conservatives created a new reality essentially in all four of these areas in order to square their thought process. The conservative movement by and large suffers from this; another term for this is cognitive dissonance. For whatever reason – the brains of conservatives just make stuff up in order to justify their support for two conflicting beliefs.
7.) Drew, C. (2013, November 29). Scandal Widens Over Contracts for Navy Work. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/30/us/scandal-widens-over-contracts-for-navy-work.html?ref=us

The Justice Department is looking into allegations that the company, Inchcape Shipping Services, with the help of subcontractors, overcharged the Navy by millions of dollars, interviews and previously undisclosed court documents show.

Inchcape, which is owned by the government of Dubai, was suspended this week from winning new federal contracts and is expected to meet with Justice Department officials soon to discuss the case.

The civil fraud investigation, which was prompted by a whistle-blower who had worked for the company, is another serious embarrassment for the Navy, which is already grappling with a criminal investigation of its main ship supplier in the Pacific, Glenn Defense Marine Asia.
6.) Wydra, E. (2013, November 27). Religious Liberty Is For People, Not Corporations. Retrieved from http://edition.cnn.com/2013/11/26/opinion/wydra-supreme-court-obamacare/index.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+rss%2Fcnn_topstories+%28RSS%3A+Top+Stories%29

Unless the Supreme Court reverses these radical decisions, the consequences could reach far beyond the Affordable Care Act, making this particular roadblock for Obamacare more problematic in the long term than the well-publicized problems associated with the health exchange website's rollout.

By accepting the religious free-exercise claims, these three federal courts have turned first principles of religious freedom, as well as fundamental tenets of corporate law, on their head.

From the nation's founding until today, the Constitution's protection of religious liberty has been seen as a personal right, inextricably linked to the human capacity to express devotion to a God and act on the basis of reason and conscience.
5.) Spetalnick, M. (2013, November 26). Americans Back Iran Deal By 2-to-1 Margin: Reuters/Ipsos Poll. Retrieved from http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/11/27/us-usa-iran-poll-idUSBRE9AQ01420131127?feedType=RSS&feedName=everything&virtualBrandChannel=11563

Americans back a newly brokered nuclear deal with Iran by a 2-to-1 margin and are very wary of the United States resorting to military action against Tehran even if the historic diplomatic effort falls through, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed on Tuesday.

The findings were rare good news in the polls for President Barack Obama, whose approval ratings have dropped in recent weeks because of the botched rollout of his signature healthcare reform law.
4.) Pizzi, M. (2013, November 30). Syria Rebels Say Peace Talks Destined For Failure. Retrieved from http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/11/30/syria-rebels-skepticalaboutgenevatalks.html

"At long last and for the first time, the Syrian government and opposition will meet at the negotiating table instead of the battlefield,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Tuesday as he announced the long-delayed summit for Jan. 22 in Geneva. Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby promptly affirmed his support for the planned conference and said his only regret was the long delay in scheduling the talks.

But comments from world leaders wrangling for a solution to the war belie a bleak reality: almost no one believes the long-anticipated talks will succeed – not even the Coalition itself.

“I really don’t think the prospects of a successful meeting are there – the gaps between the two sides are huge,” Najib Ghadbian, the Coalition's special representative to the United States, told Al Jazeera. The Coalition will go to Geneva, Ghadbian said, to push for delivery of humanitarian aid to besieged cities and for the release of some of Syria's tens of thousands of political prisoners. "From our point of view," he said, "we have nothing really to lose."
3.) Goodman, A. & Shaikh, N. (2013, November 26). As Wal-Mart Workers Plan Record Black Friday Protests, Study Says Retail Giant Can Afford Higher Pay. Retrieved from http://www.democracynow.org/2013/11/26/as_wal_mart_workers_plan_record

AMY GOODMAN: Amidst criticism of the workers low wages, Wal-Mart has been touting its campaign to promote more than 25,000 of its roughly 1.3 million U.S. employees by the end of January. The workers are featured in clips on the company’s YouTube channel, like this one.

GREGORY PORTIS: Hi, how are you doing? I am the produce manager here at Wal-Mart. I started with the company four months ago. I’ve been promoted to the department manager three weeks after I started. This time of the year is a really busy time of the year due to Thanksgiving and Christmas. We have a lot of customers that are in the store, so we try to meet all their needs and getting them everything that they want, to make sure that they can take care of their families.

AMY GOODMAN: Wal-Mart Spokesperson Kory Lundberg said the company already has hundreds of thousands of associates who earn at least $25,000 per year. Catherine Reutschlin, your response?

CATHERINE RUETSCHLIN: Wal-Mart, by their own admission, is just making the same promotions that they would have made anyway. This isn’t an improvement in their labor standards at all. In fact, what it is, is a lot of workers who have been part time before and just kind of waiting on the fringes for the opportunity to put in more hours are being kind of touted with a grand fanfare that this is a great promotion. But, it doesn’t change the fundamental labor practices at Wal-Mart where they operate on a model of low investment in their workforce and high turnover. In fact, approximately 500,000 Wal-Mart workers quit every year.
2.) BBC News Asia. (2013, November 30). US Carriers Urged To Comply With China Air Zone Rules. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-25165503

The establishment of the ADIZ has caused widespread anger, with the US state department calling it "an attempt to unilaterally change the status quo in the East China Sea" which will "raise regional tensions and increase the risk of miscalculation, confrontation and accidents".

But on Friday, the state department said the US government "generally expects that US carriers operating internationally will operate consistent with Notams issued by foreign countries".

It added: "Our expectation of operations by US carriers consistent with NOTAMs does not indicate U.S. government acceptance of China's requirements for operating in the newly declared ADIZ."
1.) JANE Perlez, J. (2013, November 30). North Korea Accuses Detained U.S. Veteran of War Crimes. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/01/world/asia/north-korea-accuses-detained-us-veteran-of-war-crimes.html?hp&_r=0

North Korea has accused an American veteran of war crimes and on Saturday released a video of him confessing to “hostile acts” during the Korean War and while he was visiting the country in October.

The veteran, Merrill Newman, 85, of Palo Alto, Calif., who has been held since Oct. 26, appeared on the video dressed in casual Western clothes and wearing glasses as he read excerpts from the apology from several sheets of white paper.

. . .

In the apology Mr. Newman describes how he wanted to meet “surviving soldiers and pray for the souls of the dead soldiers” involved in the Korean War. If he met any surviving soldiers he planned to put them in touch with members of the Kuwol Partisan Comrades-in-Arms Association who had escaped to South Korea, the apology said.

NY Mayoral Debate Highlights: Anthony Weiner is Still Texting

Yes, the mayoral debate for NY happened yesterday. Lots of important things were said. But if you want to laugh at Anthony, Skip to 2:50. Oh, Anthony, you so crazy.

On a more serious note. Democrats look strong. I'm excited for New York. Real, full-blown excited.

Gov. Paul LePage: "About 47% of able-bodied people in the state of Maine don’t work"

Let this be a lesson to the American people. Heed his humble words of truth and valor.

Awesome blog from Maine on the topic:

The quote is stunning, both for how ridiculous it is on its face as well as how closely it mirrors a comment made by 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who also took aim at 47% of the population (those he said were victims, dependent on government and therefore voting for his opponent) in a leaked video that did significant damage to his campaign.

Just to be absolutely clear, LePage’s statistic is completely wrong. Currently, around 65% of Mainers over the age of 15 are working or are unemployed and actively seeking work. Of the remaining 35%, almost all are retired, are caring for children or other family members, are pursuing education or training or have a disability that prevents them from working. Only a tiny fraction aren’t working for other reasons. The conservative Heritage Foundation, using U.S. Census data, puts this number at 1.1% nationally.

Maine is known for our strong Yankee work ethic and we have a higher labor force participation rate than the rest of the country, despite our more elderly population. We work harder, longer and often in more dangerous occupations than people almost anywhere else.

We deserve a Governor who is proud of Maine, doesn’t falsely believe that half the people he was elected to serve are lazy and useless and doesn’t govern as if this were true.

Let's remember that this guy is calling upon his experience as a manager for an Antiques firm. That's not exactly cutting edge technology for the next generation of workers.

Holy Shit

I live in Albuquerque. Am I going to have to do some real live action reporting?

Randy Neugebauer Confronts Park Ranger Over Closed WWII Memorial

So this happened this morning.

Worst. PR. Ever.

Absolutely disgusting. I don't know about you compañeros on the east coast, but here in Southwest--a lot of park rangers and fire fighters have died to the wildfires. Closing down a park service, especially if you are cutting the park budget, is perfectly reasonable.

I recall that Colorado and Texas Republicans slashed the budget for fighting forest and park servicemen are dying over that fact as they serve the American people. I mean dudes are dying just before the shutdown, let alone after we underfund them. < http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2013/09/28/report-yarnell-firefighters-died-trying-to-make-it-to-safe-zone >. This public statement just shows how out of touch with reality the Republican party has fallen.

Seriously, don't mess with the park ranger. They have to deal with your armed maniacs meandering the woods (which is legal now, thanks congress).

God bless you, bicyclist dude.

C-SPAN Call-ins Blame Corporate America For Shutdown

This morning showed a real opposition to the Republican's claim that they spoke for "The Will of The People". These calls of dissent might just get you through your day

Recorded this morning 9.22.2013

C-SPAN Callers Hate Republican Congress

Lots of C-SPAN liberals bashing on the manufactured crisis. This is in response to the Republican budget ultimatum. The new budget would require Obama to fold on the XL Pipeline and the Affordable Care Act.

"This is Treason!" Democrats Call-in To C-SPAN This Morning

Yes, they used the "T" word.

Recorded 9.20.2013. With a government shutdown coming soon, I anticipated a troll-bush of Republicans this morning on C-SPAN radio. But instead there were a lot of Democrats calling out the Republican congress and their opposition to Affordable Care Act.

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