Federal agencies are sharpening their plans to carry out drastic, automatic spending cuts starting Jan. 2 if the Obama administration and Congress cannot agree on a deficit reduction strategy in the coming days. Some agencies envision furloughs for federal workers, while others are mapping out a course to slow hiring and outside contracting and put programs on hold if the across-the-board reductions known as a sequester kick in. For millions of Americans, the “fiscal cliff” would mean immediate tax hikes, but for federal employees it also signals big adjustments
Psy, the South Korean rapper whose viral pop hit “Gangnam Style” has been viewed more than 900 million times on YouTube, participated in two anti-American performances about a decade ago, a story that finally trickled into English-language media this week. Although the K-Pop star quickly issued a public apology, the controversy could build, as Psy is slated to perform Sunday night at “Christmas in Washington,” the annual holiday concert held at the National Building Museum, with President Obama and his family in attendance. As of Friday evening
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will soon testify before US lawmakers at an open-door hearing about the deadly September attack on the US mission in Benghazi, Libya, a top lawmaker said. Clinton will appear before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs "to discuss, in an open hearing, the findings and recommendations" in a State Department report on the attack, committee chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said on Friday. (Snip) No specific date was given for Clinton´s testimony. It was however unlikely that she would testify next week, as she is due to leave Monday on a trip to north Africa and
Peshawar, Pakistan - Tribal sources from Pakistan´s northwest said on Saturday a U.S. drone attack had killed a senior al Qaeda commander in the latest blow to the militant Islamist group that has been targeted in many similar attacks. Abu Zaid was killed, along with 10 other people, in the drone strike on a hideout in Pakistan´s North Waziristan, one of the tribal regions near the border with Afghanistan, early on Thursday, the sources said. Zaid had just moved to the hideout a few days ago, they said. Pakistani security officials based in North Waziristan said
Washington - It did not take long for Susan E. Rice and her champions at the White House to realize that the Republican furor over the Benghazi attack was not going away after the presidential campaign ended. One of her fiercest critics, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, made that clear on the Sunday after the election when he said he would oppose any attempt to make Ms. Rice the secretary of state, citing the account she gave in television interviews of the attack in Libya that resulted in the deaths of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
Tallahassee, Fla. - Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who was elected the state´s chief executive as a Republican and then ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate as an independent, announced on Twitter on Friday night that he´s switching to the Democratic Party. The announcement fanned speculation that Crist would seek to regain his old job from Republican Gov. Rick Scott in 2014. Crist sent out a tweet that said, "Proud and honored to join the Democratic Party in the home of President (at)Barack Obama!" The tweet included a photo of a smiling Crist and his wife Carole
After the Great Depression and in the lead up to World War II, the United States debt to GDP ratio was over 100%. And what did we get for that? Not only the resolution of a major world conflict but the New Deal, a package of government stimulus programs that rebooted the economy and created two generations of broadly shared prosperity in America. Today, the debt to GDP ratio is 60%. So what exactly is the crisis? Some economists say the more correct measure is the ratio of interest payments to GDP, in which case our current interest-to-GDP ratio
Residents of a wealthy village near New York have been ordered not to hang their laundry outside their homes as it makes them look ´low class.´ The board of Great Neck on Long Island has passed a law which makes it a criminal offense to use a clothesline in front of your home. The punishment if they are caught is a fine of up to $1,000 (£620) or, in severe cases, 15 days in jail. The law was brought in after the village´s building department superintendent Norman Nemec received a complaint about a front garden.
House Speaker John Boehner is facing mounting criticism from the conservative wing of the party for allegedly punishing certain members over their voting record, with some suggesting his speakership could be at risk. The odds right now of Boehner losing his post are quite low, barring the sudden entry of a challenger who galvanizes the rest of the caucus. But two developments have raised hackles among conservative members and advocacy groups, prompting grumbling about Boehner´s position. They´re disappointed, for one, that he offered to put increased revenue on the table as part of fiscal crisis talks.
On Thursday, George Zimmerman filed suit against NBC News and three NBC producers he accuses of intentionally painting him as a racist. Zimmerman and his attorneys have now done what many in the new media only dream of doing, holding the major media responsible for their biased and misleading output. The language in the complaint is blunt. It calls NBC´s coverage "yellow journalism" and refers to "journalistic crimes." Most broadly, the complaint accuses NBC of trumping up a racism narrative for ratings, with a name check of the Today Show and Rev. Al Sharpton in particular.
Following Senator Jim DeMint’s abrupt resignation to run The Heritage Foundation, much has been made over who South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley might name to replace him. One name mentioned is that of African American Congressman Tim Scott, a prospect which prompted MSNBC anchor Richard Lui to sneer: "... Is the South ready for a black Senator?" On Friday’s MSNBC Live, Lui baited fellow MSNBCer Melissa Harris-Perry into trashing the South as intolerant. Surprisingly, she did not fall into this trap. [See video below page break. MP3 audio here.]
CNN Contributor and former Green Energy Czar Van Jones told a crowd at UC-Berkeley that President Obama was a lifeguard (albeit one with "big ears and a funny name") who was trying to save the American people and Republicans wanted to "cut the rope," and "let the dead bodies pile up" so they would fire Lifeguard Obama. Jones also said Republicans wanted to "let students drown in debt," make veterans suffer, and throw poor people out on the street.
In its landmark $660-million settlement with victims of sexual abuse five years ago, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles agreed to make public the confidential personnel records of all priests accused of molesting children. (Snip) But the documents have been scrubbed of what many regard as the most important information: the identities of the members of the church hierarchy who reshuffled abusers. The names of the former cardinal, Roger M. Mahony, and the bishops and vicars who handled molestation complaints for him have been redacted by church lawyers at the direction of a retired federal judge
Ankara - France has emerged as the most prominent backer of Syria´s armed opposition and is now directly funding rebel groups around Aleppo as part of a new push to oust the embattled Assad regime. Large sums of cash have been delivered by French government proxies across the Turkish border to rebel commanders in the past month, diplomatic sources have confirmed. The money has been used to buy weapons inside Syria and to fund armed operations against loyalist forces. The French moves have stopped short of direct supply of weapons –
James Taylor said he “really suffered” under eight years of “Cheney/Bush,” while speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on Friday about election reform. “It was sort of natural, being so politically active over the years, that I would get involved in the campaign of 2008,” Taylor said. “I really—I was hugely motivated also by eight years of Cheney/Bush, and I say it in that order on purpose.” “Those were—it was a tough time for me,” he said. “I really suffered.” “It made me deeply ambivalent about my country that we would
Judge Brian Cogan mocked the “accommodation” on religion liberty outlined by President Obama in regards to his health care law’s contraception mandate while ruling against a Justice Department motion to dismiss the Archdiocese of New York’s lawsuit against the regulation. “There is no, ‘Trust us, changes are coming’ clause in the Constitution,” Cogan wrote in his ruling against DOJ. “To the contrary, the Bill of Rights itself, and the First Amendment in particular, reflect a degree of skepticism towards governmental self-restraint and self-correction.” Cogan was referring to the fact that Obama’s promise to accommodate
Cairo - One of Egypt´s most prominent ultraconservative Muslim clerics had high praise for the country´s draft constitution. (Snip) The draft constitution that is now at the centre of worsening political turmoil would empower Islamists to carry out the most widespread and strictest implementation of Islamic law that modern Egypt has seen. That authority rests on the three articles that explicitly mention Shariah, as well as obscure legal language buried in a number of other articles that few noticed during the charter´s drafting but that Islamists insisted on including. According to both supporters and
After years of campaigning for higher taxes, it is beginning to dawn on liberal residents of blue states that the effects, for them, will not be pretty. Most of the nation’s “rich”–those earning over $250,000 a year, or, depending on President Obama’s mood, $175,000–live in the blue states. Moreover, the deductions that are likely slated for reduction or elimination, including state taxes and home mortgages, mostly benefit blue state residents. So the New York Times, a prime agitator for higher taxes, appears to be having second thoughts: As they continue to wrangle over the year-end fiscal deadline
The Supreme Court announced Friday that it will consider the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act and California´s ban on marriage, two cases that could have a significant impact on marriage laws across the country. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton in 1996, prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriages. Both the First and Second Circuit Court of appeals have struck down a provision of the law denying federal benefits, like Social Security benefits or the ability to file joint tax returns, to same-sex couples legally
The family of a nurse found dead in a suspected suicide just two days after transferring a hoax call about the Duchess of Cambridge tonight told of their devastation at losing their ´beloved Jacintha´. Mother-of-two Jacintha Saldanha, 46, who was working on the switchboard at the King Edward VII Hospital when 2DayFM obtained intimate details about Kate, was found dead this morning. As the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge spoke of their ´deep sadness´ at the tragedy, the grieving family of the ´excellent´ nurse said: ´We as a family are deeply saddened by the loss of our beloved Jacintha.´
From the New York Daily News: "Snooki Gives Kate Middleton Advice On Being A New Parent." Great! Maybe Kate could return the favor and give Snooki and her fellow Americans some advice. About fiscal prudence, for example. Say what you like about a high-living, big-spending, bloated, decadent parasitical, wastrel monarchy, but, compared to the citizen-executive of a republic of limited government, it´s a bargain. So, while the lovely Duchess of Cambridge nurses her baby bump, the equally radiant President of the United States nurses his ever more swollen debt belly.
READING in bed, once considered a relatively safe pastime, is now seen by some as a riskier proposition. That’s because bedbugs have discovered a new way to hitchhike in and out of beds: library books. It turns out that tiny bedbugs and their eggs can hide in the spines of hardcover books. The bugs crawl out at night to feed, find a new home in a headboard, and soon readers are enjoying not only plot twists but post-bite welts.
"Allegations of racism and other discrimination against San Francisco Housing Authority Executive Director Henry Alvarez are flying in lawsuits filed by his subordinates," the San Francisco Examiner reports. It´s a man-bites-dog story inasmuch as Alvarez is black and his accusers are white--the reverse of the usual race-discrimination stereotype. In one lawsuit, Tim Larsen, a lawyer who works for the authority, alleges that Alvarez "told him to ´stop being so Anglo´ and that he ´did not have enough kink in his hair,´" (Snip) ´you and I are like Captain Kirk and Spock; you will never escape me.´ "
President Barack Obama’s got a whole new take on corporate cash. The inaugural committee says its decision to accept unlimited corporate money is only a reflection of how drained donors are following the pricey reelection campaign. But coming right in the midst of negotiations over the fiscal cliff, the decision means Obama will start his second term with a significant symbolic reversal — four years ago, the corporate money ban was supposed to signal what his committee called a “commitment to change business as usual in Washington.” It opens him to charges that he’s changed
Psy, the South Korean rapper famous for “Gangnam Style,” apologized today for a 2004 performance in which he said American soldiers should be killed “slowly and painfully.” The apology comes two days before he is scheduled to perform at a holiday concert that will be attended by President Obama and his family. TNT, the organizer of the concert, told ABC News that Psy will perform on Sunday as planned. A White House official confirmed to ABC News that the Obama family will attend the Dec. 9 taping of ”Christmas in Washington,” as is custom.
Tens of thousands of Egyptian protesters push past barbed wire fences installed by the army and march on the presidential palace, calling for President Mohammed Morsi to “leave” a day after they say he offered no concessions to opposition demands. Climbing over tanks of the Republican Guard, protesters streamed toward the palace as night fell Friday, crossing a no-go zone set up around the compound’s perimeter. The area witnessed deadly clashes on Wednesday, when supporters of Mr. Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood group drove out crowds camped outside the palace.