Saturday, August 30, 2014

National Guard Turns to Food Banks Because Rick Perry Hasn't Paid Them Yet




The National Guard troops Texas Gov. Rick Perry ordered to the U.S. Mexico border last month are using food and gas aid from a local food bank because they haven't been paid in weeks, according to the KGBT. Members of the National Guard reach out for assistance for 50 troops who were deployed around August 11 visited the food banks, and members of the group told KGBT that they won't be paid until September 5th.
(Update 3:30pm: In a statement to The Wire Gov. Perry's press office challenged the account given by the RGV food bank, and said the Texas National Guard only has a record of two troops receiving aid.)

Last month, Perry announced he was sending 1,000 National Guard troops to defend the border in the wake of inaction from the federal government. The move was met with skepticism, especially from border town sheriffs who wanted the resources to go towards police officers, since National Guard troops aren't allowed to arrest or detain undocumented immigrants. Others balked at the price — it will cost an estimated $12 million a month to sustain the troops, and as of last month the state wasn't sure how it would pay that price.
 
Now it seems that the troops arrived before the funds did. Democratic state Rep. Rene Olivera, who earlier condemned the "militarization" of the border, said "it's embarrassing that our troops have to stand in a food pantry line. This is the fault of the state." 

Here's the full statement from Perry's office:
First, the suggestion that Guardsmen aren’t getting paid is false. They are getting paid on a regular schedule with their first pay day on Sept. 5, then every two weeks after that.
Second, based on information provided by the Texas National Guard, two soldiers sought and received assistance through the Family Assistance Coordinator. Family Assistance Coordinators routinely help Guardsmen all across the state with needs they may have, regardless of deployment or duty status.
Also, based on information provided by the Guard, they currently have no indication that any Guardsmen received any assistance from the Rio Grande Valley Food Bank.
Governor Perry is confident the Guard stands ready to assist to any Soldier who may need it, regardless of deployment or duty status so they can meet the needs of their family, or the mission they are performing.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Mitch McConnell’s promise to the Koch brothers

Sen. McConnell delivered a promise during a meeting hosted by the Koch brothers. Lawrence O’Donnell explains why his comments are a turning point in his campaign.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Charlie Crist wins Democratic primary, will face Rick Scott in Florida governor’s race

By Reuters

REUTERS DO NOT REUSE
 
[Image: Former Florida Governor Charlie Crist waves after meeting supporters outside the North Miami Public Library in Miami, Florida on Aug. 24, 2014. By Gaston De Cardenas for Reuters]

By Letitia Stein

TAMPA Fla. (Reuters) – Charlie Crist won the Democratic nomination for Florida governor on Tuesday, defeating his primary challenger with almost 75 percent of the vote and setting the stage for a nationally watched governor’s race.

Republican Governor Rick Scott easily cruised toward victory with more than 87 percent of the vote over two little-known primary opponents.

Voter turnout was low – under 17.5 percent – in an election lacking tight races at the top of the tickets to help draw voters.

With Scott and Crist virtually tied in polls, the race is shaping up as one of the most expensive gubernatorial contests, with both parties seeking a major bully pulpit going into the 2016 presidential elections in the nation’s most populous swing state.

Primary vote results provide an initial gauge of Democratic enthusiasm for Crist, who governed Florida as a Republican from 2007 to 2011 and now wants the job back under a different party label.

In accepting the party’s nomination, Crist stressed his moderate track record as a Republican on issues including public education, women’s reproductive rights and U.S. President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plan.

“When I was governor, serving the public was never about right versus left, it was always about right versus wrong,” Crist said.

Crist largely ignored a primary challenge from Nan Rich, a former state legislator from south Florida who in conceding called on her supporters to help vote out Scott.

“I entered this race to defeat Rick Scott and to get Florida back on the right track,” Rich said at an election night event. “That is the goal that I remain committed to.”

General election themes have been the focus of an already blistering televised ad campaign, with Scott and Crist bashing each other’s records on everything from taxes to jobs, education and energy policy.

“The next few months are about talk versus action,” Scott said in a statement. “Florida will have a choice between a governor who sent our state into a tailspin and a governor who gets results.”

Votes cast against Crist will be scrutinized to reveal his ability to galvanize the base of a party he only recently joined after spending most of his political life as a Republican, said Daniel Smith, a political science professor at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

“He has not played to the base as he has to the middle,” Smith said. “In doing so, he risks alienating those core Democrats he is going to need in the general election.”

Early voting results indicated low voter turnout, especially in the Democratic stronghold in south Florida, which could be crucial to the party’s chances in November.

Florida Democratic leaders, seeking to move quickly past the primary, have plans for unity rallies featuring both candidates on Thursday in Orlando and Fort Lauderdale.

“With Charlie Crist as our nominee, Democrats are fired up, ready to work hard, and ready to win in November,” said Florida Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant in a statement.

(Additional reporting by Barbara Liston in Orlando, Bill Cotterell in Tallahassee, David Adams, Daniel Wallis and Zachary Fagenson in Miami.; Editing by Bill Trott, Andre Grenon and Eric Walsh)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Which States Permit Open Carry of Handguns?

By Taegan Goddard

Wall Street Journal: “As people on both sides of the debate regarding open carry—the practice of carrying firearms in plain view—have been turning up the heat, more companies are being forced to take a side.”

Carrying a firearm in a concealed manner is legal in all states, but open carry has more restrictions, especially for handguns. Though federal law doesn’t restrict the open carrying of handguns in public, several states—including California, Florida, Illinois, New York, South Carolina and Texas—ban the practice, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Thirteen states require a special permit or license to open carry. The remaining 31 states don’t require one. The laws are different for long guns, which are commonly associated with hunting.”


“Why is open carry causing so much of a stir when concealed carry is so widespread?”
OG AC384 openca G 20140822132909 Which States Permit Open Carry of Handguns?

Paul Ryan runs from DREAMers

Rep. Paul Ryan tries to distance himself from discussing immigration reform, refusing to answer questions from Dreamers from a book signing. Ed Schultz, Ray Jose from United We Dream, Mitch Caesar and Ana Rivas Logan discuss.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Wisconsin's Walker confronted with damaging new details

 
For all the current and former Republican governors facing serious scandals – Rick Perry, Bob McDonnell, Chris Christie, et al – let’s not forget about Gov. Scott Walker. The Wisconsin chief executive is in the middle of a tough re-election fight – which he’ll have to win to move forward with his presidential plans – and a lingering controversy is making his task more difficult.
 
To briefly recap, Wisconsin election laws prohibit officials from coordinating campaign activities with outside political groups. When Walker faced a recall campaign, however, he and his team may have directly overseen how outside groups – including some allegedly non-partisan non-profits – spent their campaign resources.
 
Late Friday night, the allegations surrounding the governor’s office appear to have grown far more serious. Consider this report from Madison’s Wisconsin State Journal.
Gov. Scott Walker personally solicited millions of dollars in contributions for a conservative group during the 2011 and 2012 recalls, which prosecutors cited as evidence the governor and his campaign violated state campaign finance laws, records made public on Friday show.
 
Among the groups that donated money to Wisconsin Club for Growth during that time was Gogebic Taconite, which contributed $700,000, according to the records. The company later won approval from the Legislature and Walker to streamline regulations for a massive iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin.
In an April court filing unsealed briefly on Friday, a lawyer wrote, “Because Wisconsin Club for Growth’s fundraising and expenditures were being coordinated with Scott Walker’s agents at the time of Gogebic’s donation, there is certainly an appearance of corruption in light of the resulting legislation from which it benefited.”
 
I think it’s safe to say these revelations do not cast Walker and his team in a positive light. On the contrary, Friday’s night’s evidence appears quite damning.
 
As additional reporting from the weekend makes clear, Team Walker, with the governor’s direct involvement, is accused of raising money for Wisconsin Club for Growth, which in turn ran ads to support the governor and helped disperse campaign funds to conservative allies.
 
In one especially damaging detail, Walker was dispatched to Las Vegas with talking points on the importance of unregulated contributions for the supposedly independent nonprofit group.
 
“Stress that donations to [Wisconsin Club for Growth] are not disclosed and can accept corporate donations without limits,” an aide told Walker via email. “Let [potential donors] know that you can accept corporate contributions and it is not reported.”
 
Wisconsin Club for Growth allegedly funneled these unregulated contributions to allies, all to help Walker prevail in his recall election. Indeed, the reports suggest the governor insisted on Wisconsin Club for Growth maintaining a leadership role in order to “ensure correct messaging.” A fundraising consultant for Walker to one of the governor’s campaign consultants, “We had some past problems with multiple groups doing work on ‘behalf’ of Gov. Walker and it caused some issues.”
 
The coordination aspect is clearly problematic under campaign-finance laws, but the scandal may also include a possible quid-pro-quo angle.
Other Wisconsin Club for Growth donors included Gogebic Taconite LLC, which has proposed opening a 4 1/2-mile long iron mine in northern Wisconsin. The company gave $700,000 to Club for Growth in 2011 and 2012. Walker signed legislation last year streamlining state mining requirements and paving the way for the project. The documents don’t show whether Walker directly solicited donations from that company. A spokesman for the company did not return a message seeking comment.
There are 71 days until Election Day in Wisconsin. These are probably not the kind of headlines the Republican governor was hoping for as the campaign cycle approaches Labor Day.
 
Postscript: If you’re new to Walker’s scandal or need a refresher, this Q&A is helpful (thanks to my colleague Nazanin Rafsanjani for the heads-up).

Self-Certified Rand Paul Went To Guatemala To Play Doctor While Bashing Obama

By Vegasjessie

 After denouncing any immigration from Central American countries, the GOP's self-certified ophthalmologist uses his trip to Guatemala for presidential campaign photo ops. The trip wouldn't be complete without deriding his own president.

 
Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul recently ventured to Guatemala on a medical mission to help the impoverished citizens with much needed ophthalmologic care. Chris Jansing, hosting Meet The Press before Chuck Todd arrives as the new host, accompanied the diminutive Senator Paul to the Central American country. Paul was one of 28 American volunteers organized by the Moran Eye Center in Utah.

Oddly enough, he is not certified by the highly respected American Board of Ophthalmology. He was "certified " by the National Board of Ophthalmology which has existed since 1999, when Paul “founded” it. Rand's board lists no more than seven doctors, and its address is a post-office box in Bowling Green, Ky. You can find the requirements of the American Board of Ophthalmology at www.abop.org., while Paul’s group maintains no such website. The legitimate ABO has over 16,000 doctors who are members.

The visit seemed to be philanthropic in nature, but what good is a humanitarian trip if you can't use it to bash President Obama in front of the whole world? The Kentucky republican, in a meeting with Guatemalan President Molina said,

the mess we’ve got at the border is frankly because of the White House’s policies... nothing good has happened because Sen. Reid has decided that he’s not going to allow any votes on any bills this year because he’s protecting his members who are vulnerable in the election—he’s protecting them from any kind of votes.
Rand was once seen as too liberal with his slightly more tolerant stance regarding immigration, except he never presents an alternative solution. Perhaps he used the trip to show his kind side despite his country's inability to "secure the border" (which is rather secure).Michael Czin, national press secretary for the DNC, reminds us of the lack of action by Senator Paul who

voted against Democratic immigration reform legislation and opposed an emergency supplemental package to address the border crisis.
Rand Paul is vying for the nomination as the GOP candidate in less than two years. After the party's "autopsy," Reince Priebus called for sweeping changes in 2013, yet no immigration proposals other than securing the border have been presented. It's funny that Rand would be slamming the president on an issue his party deems "not that important" while facing a leader of a nation whose people are desperate to emigrate to the USA.

Republicans are far too busy legislating the uterus, denying climate science, trying to outlaw the teaching of evolution and kowtowing to the NRA to deal with such trivia. Ironically, many Republicans feel ISIS is sending people through the "unsecured" southern border yet they don't find the immigration crisis all that significant Either way, it's President Obama's fault, all of it.

Darren Wilson's Former Police Force Was Disbanded for Excessive Force and Corruption

The Washington Post gives additional insight into the background of the officer who killed Michael Brown.

By Prachi Gupta, Salon.com

While news outlets and commentators have attempted analyze every action of Michael Brown, the unarmed black teen shot to death six times in Ferguson, Missouri two weeks ago, we seem to know very little about his shooter, Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. Wilson, who just months ago won a commendation in a Town Council ceremony, now remains under the police’s protection and hasn’t spoken about the incident.

But as the public continues to search for answers, the  Washington Post has published a report on Wilson’s career, including a brief biography, that offers some insight into Wilson’s past.

According to officials interviewed by the Post, Wilson maintained a clean record, but the Post reports that his first job “was not an ideal place to learn how to police.” He entered the police force in 2009, joining a nearly all-white, 45-member task force that patrolled Jennings, Missouri, a small, impoverished city of 14,000 where the residents were 89 percent African-American. The racial tension was high, and the police were accused of using excessive force against its residents:
Racial tension was endemic in Jennings, said Rodney Epps, an African American city council member.
“You’re dealing with white cops, and they don’t know how to address black people,” Epps said. “The straw that broke the camel’s back, an officer shot at a female. She was stopped for a traffic violation. She had a child in the back [of the] car and was probably worried about getting locked up. And this officer chased her down Highway 70, past city limits, and took a shot at her. Just ridiculous.”
Police faced a series of lawsuits for using unnecessary force, Stichnote said. One black resident, Cassandra Fuller, sued the department claiming a white Jennings police officer beat her in June 2009 on her own porch after she made a joke. A car had smashed into her van, which was parked in front of her home, and she called police. The responding officer asked her to move the van. “It don’t run. You can take it home with you if you want,” she answered. She said the officer became enraged, threw her off the porch, knocked her to the ground and kicked her in the stomach.
The department paid Fuller a confidential sum to settle the case, she said.
The department also endured a corruption scandal. In 2011, city council members voted 6-1 to shut down the force and start over, bringing in a new set of officers. Everyone was let go, including Wilson, but he soon found a job at the Ferguson police department, where he has been since.
Lt. Jeff Fuesting, who took over command of the Jennings force, assessed the problems of the former task force like this:
“There was a disconnect between the community and the police department. There were just too many instances of police tactics which put the credibility of the police department in jeopardy. Complaints against officers. There was a communication breakdown between the police and the community. There were allegations involving use of force that raised questions.”
Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at pgupta@salon.com.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Al Gore sues Al Jazeera America for unpaid millions


LOS ANGELES (AP) — Former Vice President Al Gore is suing Al Jazeera America, saying the news network is withholding tens of millions of dollars that it owes for buying Current TV from him and other shareholders for $500 million last year.

David Boies, Gore's attorney, said in a statement that Al Jazeera America "wants to give itself a discount on the purchase price that was agreed to nearly two years ago." He said the suit was filed in Delaware Court of Chancery on Friday.

Al Jazeera America didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Qatar-owned news channel took over Current TV's signal last August and hired a slew of U.S. TV news veterans like Soledad O'Brien and John Seigenthaler. It is available in nearly 60 million U.S. homes.

Gore and co-founder and former Current TV CEO Joel Hyatt each had 20 percent stakes in Current, while Comcast Corp. had less than a 10 percent stake. Another major investor in Current TV was supermarket magnate and entertainment industry investor Ron Burkle.