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How to Help in Japan

While Japan’s relative affluence will help the country head off the dire humanitarian crisis that we’re seeing in a place like Haiti, enormous resources are still needed for reconstruction, and especially for providing a safety net for the country’s millions of citizens already mired in poverty.

Numerous organizations have created ways to help in disaster relief efforts to help those affected by the earthquake in Japan and tsunami throughout the Pacific.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières is sending two three-person teams to the Iwate and Miyagi prefectures in Japan. Learn more about the organization’s efforts and make a donation at

Text the American Red Cross (REDCROSS to 90999) or visit to donate $10 from your phone.

Save The Children is sending an emergency team to assist its staff in Japan. Donations to the group’s Children’s Emergency Fund will help preserve the welfare of children there.

GlobalGiving disburse funds to organizations providing direct relief and emergency services to victims of the earthquake and tsunami. All donors will get email updates on how their funds have been used. Get more info and donate today.

A contribution to International Medical Corps helps ensure the disaster relief to the services they need today, including primary and secondary health care, food and nutrition, clean water and sanitation, mental health care, and the skills they need to rehabilitate.

The cause aggregator Network For Good, curates lists of relief programs, projects and ways to help.


Defend the American Dream

Defend the Dream Action

Lansing State Capitol, 100 South Capitol Ave (Map)
Lansing, MI 48922
Wednesday, March 16th, 12:00 PM

Let’s keep the momentum going! Please sign up for this gathering right away!
Message from your host, Carlos W.: Stripping our Rights. Taking Over our Cities. Defunding our Education.

Cutting our Pay. Taxing our Pensions. Not Listening to Us.

We The People are Fed Up.

Now Let’s Do Something About It.




What if we’re not broke?

E.J. Dionne Jr:

“We’re broke.” The phrase is designed to create a sense of crisis that justifies rapid and radical actions before citizens have a chance to debate the consequences.

Just one problem: We’re not broke. Yes, nearly all levels of government face fiscal problems because of the economic downturn. But there is no crisis. There are many different paths open to fixing public budgets. And we will come up with wiser and more sustainable solutions if we approach fiscal problems calmly, realizing that we’re still a very rich country and that the wealthiest among us are doing exceptionally well.

Consider two of the most prominent we’re-brokers, House Speaker John Boehner and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.


In both cases, the fiscal issues are just an excuse for ideologically driven policies to lower taxes on well-off people and business while reducing government programs. Yet only occasionally do journalists step back to ask: Are these guys telling the truth?

The admirable Web site examined Walker’s claim in detail and concluded flatly it was “false.”

“Experts agree the state faces financial challenges in the form of deficits,” PolitiFact wrote. “But they also agree the state isn’t broke. Employees and bills are being paid. Services are continuing to be performed. Revenue continues to roll in. A variety of tools — taxes, layoffs, spending cuts, debt shifting — is available to make ends meet. Walker has promised not to increase taxes. That takes one tool off the table.”

And that’s the whole point.


We have an 8.9 percent unemployment rate, yet further measures to spur job creation are off the table. We’re broke, you see. We have a $15 trillion economy, yet we pretend to be an impoverished nation with no room for public investments in our future or efforts to ease the pain of a deep recession on those Americans who didn’t profit from it or cause it in the first place.

As Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) pointed out in a little-noticed but powerful speech on the economy in December, “during the past 20 years, 56 percent of all income growth went to the top 1 percent of households. Even more unbelievably, a third of all income growth went to just the top one-tenth of 1 percent.” Some people are definitely not broke, yet we can’t even think about raising their taxes.

By contrast, Franken noted that “when you adjust for inflation, the median household income actually declined over the last decade.” Many of those folks are going broke, yet because “we’re broke,” we’re told we can’t possibly help them.

Give Boehner, Walker and their allies full credit for diverting our attention with an arresting metaphor. The rest of us are dupes if we fall for it.


Return of the Salmonella Republicans

Remember the salmonella-infected tomatoes of 2008? How about the tainted peanut butter of 2007? Or the bad spinach of 2006? These outbreaks sickened thousands and cost the produce industry hundreds of millions. Yet somehow the Republican Party has forgotten about them.

How else to explain their posture on funding for the Food and Drug Administration? As part of their campaign to reduce federal spending, House Republicans want to reduce FDA food safety funding by $241 million for the duration of this fiscal year. As my friend and former colleague Suzy Khimm recently reported for Mother Jones, that would mean, among other things, furloughing inspectors and reducing examinations of imported food.



Another Inside Job


Count me among those who were glad to see the documentary “Inside Job” win an Oscar. The film reminded us that the financial crisis of 2008, whose aftereffects are still blighting the lives of millions of Americans, didn’t just happen — it was made possible by bad behavior on the part of bankers, regulators and, yes, economists.

What the film didn’t point out, however, is that the crisis has spawned a whole new set of abuses, many of them illegal as well as immoral. And leading political figures are, at long last, showing some outrage. Unfortunately, this outrage is directed, not at banking abuses, but at those trying to hold banks accountable for these abuses.

The immediate flashpoint is a proposed settlement between state attorneys general and the mortgage servicing industry. That settlement is a “shakedown,” says Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama. The money banks would be required to allot to mortgage modification would be “extorted,” declares The Wall Street Journal. And the bankers themselves warn that any action against them would place economic recovery at risk.


Notice, by the way, that we’re not talking about the business practices of fly-by-night operators; we’re talking about two of our three largest financial companies, with roughly $2 trillion each in assets. Yet politicians would have you believe that any attempt to get these abusive banking giants to make modest restitution is a “shakedown.” The only real question is whether the proposed settlement lets them off far too lightly.


In the days and weeks ahead, we’ll see pro-banker politicians denounce the proposed settlement, asserting that it’s all about defending the rule of law. But what they’re actually defending is the exact opposite — a system in which only the little people have to obey the law, while the rich, and bankers especially, can cheat and defraud without consequences.



GOP spending plan would cost 700,000 jobs, new report says

A Republican plan to sharply cut federal spending this year would destroy 700,000 jobs through 2012, according to an independent economic analysis set for release Monday.

The report, by Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi, offers fresh ammunition to Democrats seeking block the Republican plan, which would terminate dozens of programs and slash federal appropriations by $61 billion over the next seven months.

Zandi, an architect of the 2009 stimulus package who has advised both political parties, predicts that the GOP package would reduce economic growth by 0.5 percentage points this year, and by 0.2 percentage points in 2012, resulting in 700,000 fewer jobs by the end of next year.

His report comes on the heels of a similar analysis last week by the investment bank Goldman Sachs, which predicted that the Republican spending cuts would cause even greater damage to the economy, slowing growth by as much as 2 percentage points in the second and third quarters of this year.



Current projections suggest the unemployment rate at the 2012 election will be 7.7 percent

Phil Izzo: “The U.S. jobless rate will be 7.7% in November 2012, the highest level for a presidential election month since Jimmy Carter defeated Gerald Ford in 1976, according to the average forecast of economists in the latest Wall Street Journal survey…While the 7.7% rate in November 2012 would be the highest in seven presidential election cycles, analysts point out that it is often the overall trend–rather than the level of joblessness–that determines an incumbent’s fate. President Carter was defeated in 1980 by Ronald Reagan when the unemployment rate was 7.5%, lower than the level when he was elected but up from 5.6% earlier in his term. Meanwhile, President Reagan was re-elected in 1984 with the rate at 7.2%, but that was down sharply from the peak of 10.8% recorded in 1982.”


Michigan’s GOP Governor Slashes Corporate Tax Rate by 86 Percent, Hikes Taxes for Working Poor

Pat Garofolo, ThinkProgress: “As we’ve been documenting, several conservative governors have proposed placing the brunt of deficit reduction onto the backs of their state’s public employees, students, and middle-class taxpayers, while simultaneously trying to enact corporate tax cuts and giveaways. Govs. Rick Scott (R-FL), Tom Corbett (R-PA), and Jan Brewer (R-AZ) have all gone down this road. Following suit, Gov. Rick Snyder (R-MI) has proposed ending his state’s Earned Income Tax Credit, cutting a $600 per child tax credit, and reducing credits for seniors, while also cutting funding for school districts by eight to ten percent. At the same time, as the Michigan League for Human Services found, the state’s business taxes would be reduced by nearly $2 billion, or 86 percent …”


In addition to trying to make an unfair tax system even more problematic for Michigan’s low-income residents, Snyder has also asked that the state be given the power to dismiss local government and appoint emergency “town managers” who could break contracts and “strip powers from elected officials.”



Obama Pushes Overhaul of No Child Left Behind Law, but Testing Will Remain Central

When it comes to his domestic agenda, President Obama frequently gets criticism from conservatives for what they see as overreaching on issues that they say he didn’t define during his campaign. At the same time, he’s often criticized from the left for what it sees as a betrayal of campaign promises and far short of the transformational “change” that help propel him to the White House.

But on at least one of the major domestic issues he campaigned on — education — there’s general consensus that Mr. Obama has been plowing ahead as advertised, even if both sides don’t agree with him.


Under NCLB, schools face a variety of penalties if they continue to fail. Principals and teachers could be fired if schools repeatedly failed.

In its stead, President Obama will still call for testing as an essential way of measuring the performance of schools, teachers and students.

But he wants more flexibility and a broader metric for evaluating schools that will put greater emphasis on graduation rates. His proposal also asks to evaluate how students do academically over time on a variety of subjects beyond just math and science. And he’s calling for a broader assessment of how a school is performing over a period of time, rather than using the blunt judgment of providing it a “passing or failing” grade as is the case now under NCLB. (Neither the administration nor Congress has any intent of continuing to call the law NCLB once it’s reauthorized and revised.)


While Obama’s proposals are getting good reviews among some education wonks, others say they are frustrated that the president’s post-NCLB law will still put far too much emphasis on testing, not necessarily learning.


Whether lawmakers can fulfill his wish to approve a bill by the end of summer remains unclear. The education law — enacted in 2002 under then-President George W. Bush — addresses issues including school performance ratings, standardized testing, teacher quality, academic standards and equity for the poor.

Consideration of whether it should also address other controversial topics, such as teacher merit pay and public vouchers for students attending private school, could complicate what is likely to be a prolonged debate.

Talk of rewriting the law has surfaced repeatedly since 2007 but has died out just as often without any congressional action of consequence.


In addition, Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced that 82 percent of public schools are in jeopardy of failing to meet their annual education targets in reading and math, up from 37 percent last year.

That estimate has been challenged by several experts. But administration officials say that the projected spike in the failure rate should spur action. Obama’s plan calls for less intrusive federal oversight for most public schools but more aggressive efforts to fix the lowest performers.



The sorry state of health-care policy in the GOP

Ezra Klein:

Notably, both Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts responsible for the state’s health-care reforms, and Rick Perry, the current governor of Texas, are potential candidates for the GOP’s 2012 nomination. But the conventional wisdom is that Romney is likely to be unacceptable in a Republican primary because of his record on health-care reform, while Perry is not expected to face any particular problems related to health-care policy. So the governor responsible for the lowest uninsured rate is a heretic, while the governor responsible for the highest uninsured rate in the nation is a mainstream conservative. Telling, isn’t it?



Ira Glass: I Don’t Understand Why NPR Is Not Fighting Back (AUDIO)

“We have nothing to fear from a discussion of what is the news coverage we’re doing. As somebody who works in public radio, it is killing me that people on the right are going around trying to basically rebrand us, saying that it’s biased news, it’s left wing news, when I feel like anybody who listens to the shows knows that it’s not. And we are not fighting back, we are not saying anything back. I find it completely annoying, and I don’t understand it.”


Pew project for Excellence in Journalism 2011 Annual Report


Major Trends

Local news remains the vast untapped territory. Most traditional American media —and much of U.S. ad revenue – are local. The dynamics of that market online are still largely undefined. The potential, though, is clear. Already 40% of all online ad spending is local, up from 30% just a year earlier. But the market at the local level is different than nationally and requires different strategies, both in content creation and economics. Unlike national, at the local level, display advertising — the kind that news organizations rely on — is bigger than search, market researchers estimate. And the greatest local growth area last year was in highly targeted display ads that many innovators see as key to the future. Even Google, the king of search, sees display as “our next big business,” as Eric Schmidt, its CEO, told the New York Times in September.

The nature of local news content is also in many ways undefined. While local has been the area of greatest ferment for nonprofit startups, no one has yet cracked the code for how to produce local news effectively at a sustainable level. The first major concept in more traditional venues, the push toward so-called “hyperlocalism,” proved ill-conceived, expensive and insufficiently supported by ads. Yahoo’s four-year old local news and advertising consortium has shown some success for certain participants but less for others. There are some prominent local news aggregators such as Topix and, and now AOL has entered the field with local reporting through Patch. Whether national networks will overtake small local startups or local app networks will mix news with a variety of other local information, the terrain here remains in flux.


Cable News Viewership Declines Double Digits in 2010

CNN, MSNBC and Fox News Channel lost viewers last year, the first time all three have seen dropoffs in a dozen years, according to a new study.


Cable news, like its broadcast competitors, has lost viewers to burgeoning online news choices. In fact, online was the only medium that experienced audience growth in 2010, up 17 percent year-to-year. In a December survey, 41 percent of Americans cited the Internet as the place where they got “most of their news about national and international issues,” up 17 percent from a year earlier, according to the report.

Of course, myriad online choices have fractionalized the market overall. But the differentiator for cable news competing with instant and mobile news was to offer primetime with a point of view. CNN has stubbornly stuck with news and bipartisan talk in primetime, to the detriment of their ratings, the conventional wisdom goes. But the general audience erosion in primetime, where the cable news networks reap the lion’s share of their ad revenue, suggests there may also be a finite audience for the partisan offerings, no matter what side of the political aisle they speaking from.


Local television was up the most at 17 percent, followed by online, which jumped 13.9 percent year-to-year. Overall, cable television revenue was up 8.4 percent and broadcast television grew 6.6 percent.

According to the study, “revenues for each of the cable news channels were projected to increase in 2010 a total of 10.7 percent across the three networks: Fox grew 17 percent to $1.5 billion, CNN and HLN 5 percent to $1.2 billion, and MSNBC was up 7 percent to $383 million.”

Additionally, CNBC, which charges premium boasts affluent viewers command premium CPM (cost per thousand) rates, raked in an estimated $723 million in 2010, an increase of 9 percent year to year and nearly double what MSNBC pulled in.



“In contradiction” best describes the American left today. On the one hand, it is fragmented and dispirited, feeling itself distant from the tumble of daily US politics and acutely disgusted by its many-layered corruptions. It hardly knows itself as a part of society, so deep runs its alienation. After all, leftists, too, are affected by the mass media’s wishful pretense that the American left has simply disappeared and the extreme right’s paranoid caricatures that recycle 1950s McCarthyism. An estimated 100,000 people gathered at the state capitol in Madison, Wisconsin on Saturday 26 February 2011 to protest Governor Scott Walker’s budget bill that would remove collective bargaining rights from public employees. (Photograph: AP Photo/Wisconsin State Journal, John Hart)

And yet, the US left is actually quite strong and getting stronger by the minute. Very many young people find far more meaning in the left social criticisms of Jon Stewart, Bill Maher and Stephen Colbert than they do in the stale Republican or Democratic activities that those popular comedians mock. The devotees of much current popular music want and respond to lyrics rich with social criticism. The assaults of the right in the US on access to abortion, on civil rights and civil liberties, on the separation of church and state, and on immigrants, are less and less suffered in silent resentment and increasingly opposed by a revived left criticism and activism. From the mass mobilizations of immigrants to the outpouring of support for the embattled public employees in Wisconsin to the gatherings of support for Planned Parenthood, the US left’s size, depth and diversity are evident.


Organization is what the US left lacks. Not issues, not members, not a wide public audience: the US left now has all of them in abundance. Indeed, the economic crisis that exploded in 2008 – now becoming a social crisis because the “recovery” bypassed the majority that needed it most – has only enhanced that abundance. Yet, a deeply rooted and continuously nurtured aversion to unified organization undermines the US left’s social influence and collective action at every turn. The decline of past left organizations – the socialist and communist parties, student groups such as SDS, SNCC, major segments of organized labor – has fostered a sense of the futility of organization. The demonization of those and other left organizations, by liberal as well as conservative voices, renders individual left thought and action sometimes acceptable but collective criticism and activity always deeply suspect.

The US left will become a political force with immense potential if it can generate and ally unified organizations able to mobilize and express their constituents’ views and aspirations.



Senate Dems continue demanding Obama play greater leadership role

Senate Democrats who can’t seem to unify behind a message and vision to counteract the GOP’s continued call for across-the-board cuts at all costs want Obama to supply that message and vision for them.

The political fortunes of Senate Democrats and President Obama are moving in opposite directions, complicating their efforts to win a titanic battle against Republicans over federal spending.

Obama’s reelection forecast has improved since the midterms, when he looked like a one-term president. Senate Democrats, meanwhile, must defend 23 seats next year, handing Republicans a strong chance to win back the upper chamber even if Obama cruises to a second term.


Democrats suffered 11 defections in the vote, while Republicans maintained more unity.

Many of those defections were from members whose reelection prospects next year may be bleak and who wanted to vote for something that would cut spending more this year than the White House proposed.

One Democratic Senate aide compared Obama’s strategy to the one he used late last year during the fight over extending the George W. Bush-era tax rates.

It was Obama and Senate Republicans who got the credit for the deal, and Obama emerged looking like a bipartisan problem solver — a pretty good image to acquire so soon after his party’s massive defeat in the 2010 midterm elections.

But while it was a great outcome for Obama, the benefits are less clear for Senate Democrats, who this week face another vote on a short-term spending measure from House Republicans to avert a government shutdown.


On high-profile issues, Obama keeps low profile

But the White House sees no upside in outspokenness.

“There is a very strong gravitational pull in this town to try to drag the president to every single political skirmish and news story,” said White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer.

Pfeiffer said Obama has enough issues on his agenda and said the White House doesn’t believe the public wants the president weighing in on an array of subjects.

“They want him leading the country; they don’t want him serving as a cable commentator for the issue of the day,” he said.

President on budget: Congress’ domain
At a news conference Friday, Obama defended the role he has played in seeking a compromise on spending cuts in the current federal budget to avoid a government shutdown. But he made it clear that resolving the impasse rests mainly with congressional leaders. “This is an appropriations task,” he said, putting the issue firmly in Congress’ domain.


White House officials point to the negotiations in December that produced a deal with Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky on extending Bush-era tax rates as a template for other deals. But unlike the tax deal, when both sides got something they wanted, the debate over spending would require both to give something up while gaining little.

While Democrats have attacked the Republican spending cuts as cruel or heartless, Obama has avoided such loaded language. He has drawn a line at education spending, saying he would not support cuts that reduce money for schools or college tuition.

“What I’ve done is, every day I talk to my team,” the president said, responding directly to criticism that he has been absent from the debate. “I give them instructions in terms of how they can participate in the negotiations, indicate what’s acceptable, indicate what’s not acceptable.”

‘The White House doesn’t need to get involved’
On the Wisconsin labor dispute, Obama initially appeared to be stepping into that fight when he told a Milwaukee television station that GOP Gov. Scott Walker’s effort to make it harder for public employees to engage in collective bargaining “seems like more of an assault on unions.” Around the same time, his political arm at the Democratic National Committee, Organizing for America, coordinated with unions that were mobilizing demonstrators.

But the DNC has played down its role, and Obama has left most of the criticism to his spokesman, Jay Carney.

Ellison, together with liberal commentators and some union leaders, demanded that Obama go to the state in support of the teachers and other public sector workers. But White House officials believe the demonstrators have made the best case on their own and point to public opinion surveys that indicated support for bargaining rights.

Republicans already were portraying Obama as a tool of labor for his remarks to the Wisconsin television station and for the logistical assistance that his political arm had supplied. White House officials say a higher profile on the issue by the president would have been counterproductive and could have interfered with a naturally occurring protest.

“In Wisconsin, it’s been a much more organic movement there,” said David DiMartino, a Democratic political consultant and former Senate staffer. “The White House doesn’t need to get involved.”


Virginia Tea Party Activists ‘Extremely Disappointed In Eric Cantor’

Last week, the head of Tea Party Nation attacked House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) for not being conservative enough, writing, “Charlie Sheen is now making more sense than John Boehner.” Local tea party activists also attacked Boehner on ethics. And now, Boehner’s deputy, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), is in trouble with tea party activists in his home district:

That frustration boiled over recently when House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-7th, opposed an amendment that would have made deeper cuts than the $61 billion that the House passed. It triggered a blistering reaction from leaders of the Virginia Tea Party Patriot Federation.


Surprise: Iraq hawks now calling for military intervention in Libya

I would take issue with the conclusion [Ross Douthat] draws here, however:

It’s a testament to the resilience of American power that we’re hearing these kind of arguments so soon after the bloodiest years of the Iraq war. It’s also a testament to the achievements of the American military: absent the successes of the 2007 troop surge, we’d probably be too busy extricating ourselves from a war-torn Iraq to even contemplate another military intervention in a Muslim nation.

I think the calls for intervention are related to none of these things. The “broad cross-section of politicians and opinion-makers,” Douthat names as being supportive of intervention, from “Bill Clinton to Bill Kristol, Fareed Zakaria to Newt Gingrich, John Kerry to Christopher Hitchens,” all initially supported the invasion of Iraq. Partisan differences don’t always map neatly onto foreign policy views, so party affiliation can sometimes obscure more than it illuminates. The relative ideological diversity of this crowd obscures the fact that whatever their differences of opinion on the appropriate strength of the welfare state it’s not surprising that they would come to the same conclusion on matters of military intervention.


Hillary Clinton arrives in Paris to discuss Libya

While in Paris, Clinton is set to meet with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and other European officials to discuss the instability in Libya as leader Muammar Qadhafi’s supporters regain some of their lost territory in the battle there. Sarkozy’s government was the first to recognize an anti-Qadhafi interim governing council as Libya’s legitimate government, a move the United States is considering.


Labor Protests Spread Throughout the Country

Labor protests are continuing across the country. In South Carolina, thousands of teachers, religious leaders and state workers gathered at the capitol building on Sunday in opposition to cuts targeted at education, healthcare and other state services. In Austin, Texas more than 10,000 protesters swarmed the grounds of the capitol Saturday to denounce Gov. Rick Perry’s proposal to fire educators, increase class sizes and cut programs. On Friday, protesters in Maine filled the capitol building to take a stand against Gov. Paul LePage’s plan to strip $18 million from the state’s Fund for a Healthy Maine. Also on Friday, concerned parents and citizens in Maryland’s Prince George’s County gathered at a local school to protest budget cuts that could leave hundreds of low-income, magnet high school students without school buses. Meanwhile, protests in response Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s plan to tax the public and private pensions of senior citizens are scheduled for Tuesday in Lansing.


Collective bargaining, explained: Why it’s at the center of fights now

This article was originally published on ProPublica on March 11, 2011.

The term “collective bargaining” has been somewhat ubiquitous lately, as legislators in several states have moved to limit union rights. But while collective bargaining lies at the very heart of what unions do, how it works — especially in the public sector — is not always so straightforward.


Will continuing Wisconsin battle help Dems in 2012?

National Dems are hoping the continuing fight will represent for Dems what the health care wars of 2009-2010 were for Republicans: A glaring, nationally-resonant example of overreach that helps them galvanize the base and win over independents heading into next year’s Congressional and presidential elections. Key takeaway: This is why you’ll see national Dems try to continue to spotlight the Wisconsin fight and do what they can to keep it going.

Case in point: The DCCC is trying to use Walker’s unpopularity to drag down one of their key 2012 targets, Wisconsin House GOPer and Tea Partyer Sean Duffy, who hosted Walker in his district the other day and whose chief of staff recently left to join the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity.

* National media notices Wisconsin story is not over: It’s good to see the New York Times give serious treatment to the fact that this battle is only escalating on multiple fronts.




Obama wants better checks on gun buyers

President Obama called for more effective background checks for gun sales after the January shooting rampage in Arizona that killed six people and wounded 13, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

The Tucson shootings, and “perhaps another 2,000” gun deaths in the United States since then, show a need for consensus on how to prevent more gun violence, Obama said in an op-ed column published Sunday in the Arizona Daily Star. The nation needs “an instant, accurate, comprehensive and consistent system for background checks,” he said.


Prominent GOPers push The English Language Unity Act. Still no jobs plan, though

But in the larger context, I’m curious, will congressional Republicans ever even pretend to focus on job creation? We’ve seen Republicans targeting abortion rights, access to health care, Muslim Americans, and a variety of domestic priorities, but the elusive GOP plan to create jobs is still nowhere to be seen.

Almost exactly a year ago, John Boehner asked, “When are we going to address the number one issue on the minds of our fellow citizens? When are we going to focus on the economy and getting people back to work?”

Perhaps after the House approves the English Language Unity Act?



Blind guide dog gets a guide dog

A Suffolk man was devastated when his faithful guide dog lost his sight so he got a new dog to act as eyes for both of them.

Edward had given Graham Waspe, 60, six years of loyal service until he had to have both eyes removed after developing inoperable cataracts.

Mr Waspe, from Stowmarket, couldn’t bear to be parted from his canine companion so he got a new guide dog to look after them both.

Now two-year-old Opal acts as the eyes for both Graham and Edward, who is now living out a well deserved retirement.

“My wife and I cried when we heard Edward had glaucoma and would be losing his sight but we were determined to keep caring for him,” said Mr Waspe.

“Since losing his sight last October, he has just adapted incredibly well. He and Opal are very affectionate and just love to lie down together.”

Despite being unable to see, eight-year-old Edward, who is otherwise healthy, has shown no sign of slowing down.

Graham, who is registered blind, has only limited vision in one of his eyes due to two separate incidents earlier in his life.

Now Graham, Edward and Opal raise awareness of the Guide Dogs charity by visiting local schools and community groups.



Happy 132nd birthday to Albert Einstein.

“Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism—how passionately I hate them!”

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@cher….I too have a lot to do today…but I just wanted to compliment you on another great column. I SO look forward to your daily briefing! 🙂


Chern I look forward to your daily info and analysis sheet ,its truly amazing and simply the best . You have a gift my friend


Oh Cher, another treasure trove of very interesting information. How do you find so much good stuff every single day???