Thursday, January 24, 2008

INTERNATIONAL BLACK FILM FESTIVAL PRESENT ‘BANISHED’ A FILM BY MARCO WILLIAMS

INTERNATIONAL BLACK FILM FESTIVAL PRESENT IN PARTNERSHIP WITH ITVS COMMUNITY CINEMA PRESENT A SPECIAL SCREENING OF ‘BANISHED’ A FILM BY MARCO WILLIAMS

*****Award winning filmaker Marco Williams confronts the legacy of ‘banishments’ in some of the whitest counties in America*****

*****’Banished’ is a documentary about--banishments--- a wave of racial purgings that tore through the South 100 years ago*****

*****’Banished’ opens the wounds of history and confronts the issue of reparations*****

AT THE NEW YORK BAHA’I CENTER

53 East 11th Street (Between B,Way & University)

DATE: Monday, January 28, 2008

TIME: 6:00-10:00PM

FREE REFRESHMENTS

FILM SCREENING, DISCUSSION, NETWORKING WITH FRIENDS

FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Suggested Donation $10. (No one will be turned away)

Posted by SPN on 01/24 at 09:26 AM
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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Nooses aren’t cool.

Posted by SPN on 01/22 at 04:00 PM
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For Those Who Don’t REALLY Know Guiliani’s Record as Mayor

Crossing Giuliani often had a price
While in office, Republican’s toughness edged toward ruthlessness

THE LONG RUN
By Michael Powell and Russ Buettner
The New York Times
updated 5:59 a.m. MT, Tues., Jan. 22, 2008
Rudolph W. Giuliani likens himself to a boxer who never takes a punch without swinging back. As mayor, he made the vengeful roundhouse an instrument of government, clipping anyone who crossed him.

In August 1997, James Schillaci, a rough-hewn chauffeur from the Bronx, dialed Mayor Giuliani’s radio program on WABC-AM to complain about a red-light sting run by the police near the Bronx Zoo. When the call yielded no results, Mr. Schillaci turned to The Daily News, which then ran a photo of the red light and this front page headline: “GOTCHA!”

That morning, police officers appeared on Mr. Schillaci’s doorstep. What are you going to do, Mr. Schillaci asked, arrest me? He was joking, but the officers were not.

They slapped on handcuffs and took him to court on a 13-year-old traffic warrant. A judge threw out the charge. A police spokeswoman later read Mr. Schillaci’s decades-old criminal rap sheet to a reporter for The Daily News, a move of questionable legality because the state restricts how such information is released. She said, falsely, that he had been convicted of sodomy.

Then Mr. Giuliani took up the cudgel.

“Mr. Schillaci was posing as an altruistic whistle-blower,” the mayor told reporters at the time. “Maybe he’s dishonest enough to lie about police officers.”

Mr. Schillaci suffered an emotional breakdown, was briefly hospitalized and later received a $290,000 legal settlement from the city. “It really damaged me,” said Mr. Schillaci, now 60, massaging his face with thick hands. “I thought I was doing something good for once, my civic duty and all. Then he steps on me.”

Mr. Giuliani was a pugilist in a city of political brawlers. But far more than his predecessors, historians and politicians say, his toughness edged toward ruthlessness and became a defining aspect of his mayoralty. One result: New York City spent at least $7 million in settling civil rights lawsuits and paying retaliatory damages during the Giuliani years. 

After AIDS activists with Housing Works loudly challenged the mayor, city officials sabotaged the group’s application for a federal housing grant. A caseworker who spoke of missteps in the death of a child was fired. After unidentified city workers complained of pressure to hand contracts to Giuliani-favored organizations, investigators examined not the charges but the identity of the leakers.

“There were constant loyalty tests: ‘Will you shoot your brother?’ ” said Marilyn Gelber, who served as environmental commissioner under Mr. Giuliani. “People were marked for destruction for disloyal jokes.”

Mr. Giuliani paid careful attention to the art of political payback. When former Mayors Edward I. Koch and David N. Dinkins spoke publicly of Mr. Giuliani’s foibles, mayoral aides removed their official portraits from the ceremonial Blue Room at City Hall. Mr. Koch, who wrote a book titled “Giuliani: Nasty Man,” shrugs.

“David Dinkins and I are lucky that Rudy didn’t cast our portraits onto a bonfire along with the First Amendment, which he enjoyed violating daily,” Mr. Koch said in a recent interview.

Mr. Giuliani retails his stories of childhood toughness, in standing up to bullies who mocked his love of opera and bridled at his Yankee loyalties. Years after leaving Manhattan College, he held a grudge against a man who beat him in a class election. He urged his commissioners to walk out of City Council hearings when questions turned hostile. But in his 2002 book “Leadership,” he said his instructions owed nothing to his temper.

“It wasn’t my sensitivities I was worried about, but the tone of civility I strived to establish throughout the city,” he wrote. Mr. Giuliani declined requests to be interviewed for this article.

His admirers, not least former Deputy Mayor Randy M. Mastro, said it was unfair to characterize the mayor as vengeful, particularly given the “Herculean task” he faced when he entered office in 1994. Mr. Giuliani’s admirers claimed that the depredations of crack, AIDS, homicide and recession had brought the city to its knees, and that he faced a sclerotic liberal establishment. He wielded intimidation as his mace and wrested cost-savings and savings from powerful unions and politicians.

“The notion that the city needed broad-based change frightened a lot of entrenched groups,” said Fred Siegel, a historian and author of “The Prince of the City: Giuliani, New York and the Genius of American Life.” “He didn’t want to be politic with them.”

He cowed many into silence. Silence ensured the flow of city money.

Andy Humm, a gay activist, worked for the Hetrick-Martin Institute, which pushed condom giveaways in public schools. When Mr. Giuliani supported a parental opt-out, the institute’s director counseled silence to avoid losing city funds. “He said, ‘We’re going to say it’s not good, but we’re not going to mention him,’ ” Mr. Humm said.

“We were muzzled, and it was a disgrace.”

Picking his fights
Mr. Giuliani says he prefers to brawl with imposing opponents. His father, he wrote in “Leadership,” would “always emphasize: never pick on someone smaller than you. Never be a bully.”

As mayor, he picked fights with a notable lack of discrimination, challenging the city and state comptrollers, a few corporations and the odd council member. But the mayor’s fist also fell on the less powerful. In mid-May 1994, newspapers revealed that Mr. Giuliani’s youth commissioner, the Rev. John E. Brandon, suffered tax problems; more troubling revelations seemed in the offing.

At 7 p.m. on May 17, Mr. Giuliani’s press secretary dialed reporters and served up a hotter story: A former youth commissioner under Mr. Dinkins, Richard L. Murphy, had ladled millions of dollars to supporters of the former mayor. And someone had destroyed Department of Youth Services records and hard drives and stolen computers in an apparent effort to obscure what had happened to that money.

“My immediate goal is to get rid of the stealing, to get rid of the corruption,” Mr. Giuliani told The Daily News.

None of it was true. In 1995, the Department of Investigation found no politically motivated contracts and no theft by senior officials. But Mr. Murphy’s professional life was wrecked.

“I was soiled merchandise — the taint just lingers,” Mr. Murphy said in a recent interview.

Not long after, a major foundation recruited Mr. Murphy to work on the West Coast. The group wanted him to replicate his much-honored concept of opening schools at night as community centers. A senior Giuliani official called the foundation — a move a former mayoral official confirmed on the condition of anonymity for fear of embarrassing the organization — and the prospective job disappeared.

“He goes to people and makes them complicit in his revenge,” Mr. Murphy said.

This theme repeats. Two private employers in New York City, neither of which wanted to be identified because they feared retaliation should Mr. Giuliani be elected president, said the mayor’s office exerted pressure not to hire former Dinkins officials. When Mr. Giuliani battled schools Chancellor Ramon C. Cortines, he demanded that Mr. Cortines prove his loyalty by firing the press spokesman, John Beckman.

Mr. Beckman’s offense? He had worked in the Dinkins administration. “I found it,” Mr. Beckman said in an interview, “a really unfortunate example of how to govern.”

Joel Berger worked as a senior litigator in the city corporation counsel’s office until 1996. Afterward, he represented victims of police brutality and taught a class at the New York University School of Law, and his students served apprenticeships with the corporation counsel.

In late August 1997, Mr. Berger wrote a column in The New York Times criticizing Mr. Giuliani’s record on police brutality. A week later, a city official called the director of the N.Y.U. law school’s clinical programs and demanded that Mr. Berger be removed from the course. Otherwise, the official said, we will suspend the corporation counsel apprenticeship, according to Mr. Berger and an N.Y.U. official.

“It was ridiculously petty,” Mr. Berger said.

N.Y.U. declined to replace Mr. Berger and instead suspended the class after that semester.

‘Culture of retaliation’
The Citizens Budget Commission has driven mayors of various ideological stripes to distraction since it was founded in 1932. The business-backed group bird-dogs the city’s fiscal management with an unsparing eye. But its analysts are fonts of creative thinking, and Mr. Giuliani asked Raymond Horton, the group’s president, to serve on his transition committee in 1993.

That comity was long gone by the autumn of 1997, when Mr. Giuliani faced re-election. Ruth Messinger, the mayor’s Democratic opponent, cited the commission’s work, and the mayor denounced the group, which had issued critical reports on welfare reform, police inefficiency and the city budget.

So far, so typical for mayors and their relationship with the commission. Mr. Koch once banned his officials from attending the group’s annual retreat. Another time, he attended and gave a speech excoriating the commission.

But one of Mr. Giuliani’s deputy mayors, Joseph Lhota, took an unprecedented step. He called major securities firms that underwrite city bonds and discouraged them from buying seats at the commission’s annual fund-raising dinner. Because Mr. Lhota played a key role in selecting the investment firms that underwrote the bonds, his calls raised an ethical tempest.

Apologizing struck Mr. Giuliani as silly.

“We are sending exactly the right message,” he said. “Their reports are pretty useless; they are a dilettante organization.”

Still, that dinner was a rousing success. “All mayors have thin skins, but Rudy has the thinnest skin of all,” Mr. Horton said.

Mr. Giuliani’s war with the nonprofit group Housing Works was more operatic. Housing Works runs nationally respected programs for the homeless, the mentally ill and people who are infected with H.I.V. But it weds that service to a 1960s straight-from-the-rice-paddies guerrilla ethos.

The group’s members marched on City Hall, staged sit-ins, and delighted in singling out city officials for opprobrium. Mr. Giuliani, who considered doing away with the Division of AIDS Services, became their favorite mayor in effigy.

Mr. Giuliani responded in kind. His police commanders stationed snipers atop City Hall and sent helicopters whirling overhead when 100 or so unarmed Housing Works protesters marched nearby in 1998. A year earlier, his officials systematically killed $6 million worth of contracts with the group, saying it had mismanaged funds.

Housing Works sued the city and discovered that officials had rescored a federal evaluation form to ensure that the group lost a grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Martin Oesterreich, the city’s homeless commissioner, denied wrongdoing but acknowledged that his job might have been forfeited if Housing Works had obtained that contract.

“That possibility could have happened,” Mr. Oesterreich told a federal judge.

The mayor’s fingerprints could not be found on every decision. But his enemies were widely known.

“The culture of retaliation was really quite remarkable,” said Matthew D. Brinckerhoff, the lawyer who represented Housing Works. “Up and down the food chain, everyone knew what this guy demanded.”

The charter fight
The mayor’s wartime style of governance reached an exhaustion point in the late 1990s. His poll numbers dipped, and the courts routinely ruled against the city, upholding the New York Civil Liberties Union in 23 of its 27 free-speech challenges during Mr. Giuliani’s mayoralty. After he left office, the city agreed to pay $327,000 to a black police officer who was fired because he had testified before the City Council about police brutality toward blacks. The city also agreed to rescind the firing of the caseworker who talked about a child’s death.

In 1999, Mr. Giuliani explored a run for the United States Senate. If he won that seat, he would leave the mayor’s office a year early. The City Charter dictated that Mark Green, the public advocate, would succeed him.

That prospect was intolerable to Mr. Giuliani. Few politicians crawled under the mayor’s skin as skillfully as Mr. Green. “Idiotic” and “inane” were some of the kinder words that Mr. Giuliani sent winging toward the public advocate, who delighted in verbally tweaking the mayor.

So Mr. Giuliani announced in June 1999 that a Charter Revision Commission, stocked with his loyalists, would explore changing the line of mayoral succession. Mr. Giuliani told The New York Times Magazine that he might not have initiated the charter review campaign if Mr. Green were not the public advocate. Three former mayors declared themselves appalled; Mr. Koch fired the loudest cannonade. “You ought to be ashamed of yourself, Mr. Mayor,” he said during a news conference.

Frederick A. O. Schwarz Jr., chairman of a Charter Revision Commission a decade earlier, wrote a letter to Mr. Giuliani warning that “targeting a particular person” would “smack of personal politics and predilections.

“All this is not worthy of you, or our city,” Mr. Schwarz wrote.

Mr. Mastro, who had left the administration, agreed to serve as the commission chairman. He eventually announced that a proposal requiring a special election within 60 days of a mayor’s early departure would not take effect until 2002, after both Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Green had left office. A civic group estimated that the commission spent more than a million dollars of taxpayer money on commercials before a citywide referendum on the proposal that was held in November 1999.

Voters defeated the measure, 76 percent to 24 percent. (In 2002, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg advocated a similar charter revision that passed with little controversy.)

Mr. Green had warned the mayor that rejection loomed.

“It was simple,” Mr. Green said. “It was the mayor vindictively going after an institutional critic for doing his job.”

None of this left the mayor chastened. In March 2000, an undercover officer killed Patrick Dorismond, a security guard, during a fight when the police mistook him for a drug dealer. The outcry infuriated the mayor, who released Mr. Dorismond’s juvenile record, a document that legally was supposed to remain sealed.

The victim, Mr. Giuliani opined, was no “altar boy.” Actually, he was. (Mr. Giuliani later expressed regret without precisely apologizing.)

James Schillaci, the Bronx whistle-blower, recalled reading those comments and shuddering at the memory. “The mayor tarred me up; you know what that feels like?” he said. “I still have nightmares.”

Copyright © 2008 The New York Times
URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22776911/page/4/

Posted by Nuttshell on 01/22 at 01:45 PM
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Monday, January 21, 2008

Obama takes on question of his Christianity

This is just sickening to me.  The last thing I care about is the religious preference of a person because what comes out of their mouth is less important than how they carry themselves.  I know many people that consider themselves members of religions that act as if GOD doesn’t exist.  They belittle others and act like heathens.

Who cares if Obama is a Muslim, Christian or whatever?  No religion has a patent on good behavior.  It is really sad that people choose to stoop to these sort of tactics.  Regardless if he is Muslim, Christian, or Atheist, if he pledges to support the Constitution then he should be trusted to do that.  Hell, we trusted Christian George W. Bush to do it and look where we are now.  Do you actually think that Bush’s version of Christian vows are supportive to the cause of Christianity.  Is Bush a good ambassador for converting people to Christianity?  I don’t think so.  Let’s keep religion out of politics.  Or, better yet, let’s all be good Americans and let people choose their own religion without proselytizing or berating a person if they choose something different than you do. 

OK?

By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer Mon Jan 21, 7:22 AM ET

Barack Obama is stepping up his effort to correct the misconception that he’s a Muslim now that the presidential campaign has hit the Bible Belt.

At a rally to kick off a weeklong campaign for the South Carolina primary, Obama tried to set the record straight from an attack circulating widely on the Internet that is designed to play into prejudices against Muslims and fears of terrorism.

“I’ve been to the same church — the same Christian church — for almost 20 years,” Obama said, stressing the word Christian and drawing cheers from the faithful in reply. “I was sworn in with my hand on the family Bible. Whenever I’m in the United States Senate, I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. So if you get some silly e-mail ... send it back to whoever sent it and tell them this is all crazy. Educate.”

Obama is referring to a debunked chain e-mail circulating widely on the Internet that suggests he is hiding his Islamic roots and may be a terrorist in disguise. It says he was sworn into the Senate on the Quran and turns his back on the flag during the pledge.

There are some truths in the e-mail’s details. Obama’s middle name is Hussein. His father and stepfather were Muslim. And he spent part of his childhood in Indonesia, a largely Muslim country. But he attended secular and Catholic schools, not a radical madrassa.

His campaign has been pushing back against the false rumors all year. His aides decried an incorrect news report that Obama was educated in a Muslim madrassa and a section of his Web site is devoted to correct that and other false rumors circulating on the Internet.

But they are stepping up the effort now that the campaign has hit South Carolina and soon turns to other southern states where religion is so important to voters. The campaign distributed an open letter from seven Jewish senators this weekend condemning the attacks; aides are planning an event this week to respond directly to the e-mails; and campaign representatives blanketed South Carolina churches Sunday with literature that touted Obama’s Christian faith.

One piece features photos of Obama praying with the words “COMMITTED CHRISTIAN” in large letters across the middle. It says Obama will be a president “guided by his Christian faith” and includes a quote from him saying, “I believe in the power of prayer.”

A second piece, which like the first doesn’t mention the Muslim rumor, includes photos of Obama with his family and a caption that says they are active members of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. It explains how as a young man Obama “felt a beckoning of the spirit and accepted Jesus Christ into his life.”

Obama says he’s going to fight harder against other mischaracterizations about his positions that he says are being perpetrated by rival Hillary Rodham Clinton and her husband, the former president.

“When I see Senator Clinton, President Clinton distort my words ... that is not a way to move the debate forward, that is not a way to help the American people,” Obama said during his rally at the Columbia Convention Center. “I am not running for president just to become president, I’m running to help the American people. I’m not willing to say or do anything just to win an election.”

The Clinton campaign suggested the former president would continue pointing out what it says are inconsistencies in Obama’s record.

“President Clinton is a huge asset to our campaign and will continue talking to the American people to press the case for Senator Clinton,” said Clinton spokesman Phil Singer.

Obama adviser Steve Hildebrand said the campaign has organized “truth squads” made up of South Carolina supporters ready to defend Obama’s record from any attacks made by the Clintons this week.

In an interview broadcast Monday on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Obama said the former president “has taken his advocacy on behalf of his wife to a level that I think is pretty troubling” by making statements that are not supported by the facts.

“This has become a habit, and one of the things that we’re going to have to do is to directly confront Bill Clinton when he’s making statements that are not factually accurate,” Obama said.

The Clinton campaign responded to Obama’s interview with ABC by posting a fact check on a campaign Web site in an effort to bolster Bill Clinton’s arguments against Obama.

“We understand Senator Obama is frustrated by his loss in Nevada, but facts are facts,” Singer said. 

Posted by SPN on 01/21 at 11:26 AM
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Friday, January 18, 2008

That Didn’t Take Long - Eddie Murphy and Tracey Edmonds Split

For Eddie Murphy and Tracey Edmonds, there was no middle ground to be found between two weeks and “until death do us part.” On Wednesday, the not-yet-legally bound newlyweds stopped just short of confirming a People report that they had decided to part ways after pledging their eternal troth in an extravagant if “symbolic” ceremony in Bora Bora on Jan. 1.

So, what prompted Murphy and Edmonds, who began dating in October 2006 and became engaged in July 2007, to nix their planned domestic (and binding) nuptials in favor of remaining, as they put it, “friends”? 
Video: What made Eddie and Tracey say ‘I don’t?’

According to the magazine, cracks started forming shortly after they swapped vows beneath a gazebo decorated with 6,000 seashells.

“Eddie started yelling at Tracey in front of people,” blabs one of the bride’s wedding guests. “He did it on a few occasions and it was very embarrassing.”

In Touch, meanwhile, believes tensions hit critical mass earlier this week when they had a “big blowout.”

“It was ugly,” purports a “pal close to the couple.”

The insider blames Murphy’s “controlling” behavior for the rift, alleging he “insisted” that Edmonds take his name, something she supposedly didn’t want to do because she shares the surname with her two sons (with ex-husband Babyface).

Hard to believe that it was just one People issue ago that the Scary Spice-ditching star was swooning over how lucky in love he was.

“She’s not lacking one good thing,” he gushed of Edmonds. “She’s the whole package.”

Eddie even admitted to tearing up as she walked down the aisle, a journey she made barefoot and surrounded by tiki torches.

Rhapsodized Murphy, “She was so beautiful—I was crying, and I’m not a crier!”

No word on whether Edmonds will keep the 13.69-carat yellow diamond engagement ring that until recently was weighing down her finger. 

Posted by Nuttshell on 01/18 at 11:46 AM
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Bobby Fischer, First U.S. World Chess Champion, Dies

Jan. 18 (Bloomberg)—Bobby Fischer, the first U.S.-born chess player to become world champion, died yesterday in Iceland of an unspecified illness, the country’s national radio said. He was 64, and had lived in secrecy and obscurity for decades.

Born in Chicago and raised in New York, Fischer became the youngest U.S. national champion by age 14 and a grandmaster a year later. In 1972, he defeated Russian champion Boris Spassky in a world championship match in Iceland at the height of the Cold War. The game became known as the ``match of the century’’ and his win was a monumental event in a century which saw the sport dominated by Soviet players.

He was the greatest U.S. chess player. ``The gap between Mr. Fischer and his contemporaries was the largest ever,’’ fellow grandmaster Garry Kasparov wrote in the Wall Street Journal in 2004.

Fischer was known for unpredictable tactics at the board, keeping opponents guessing by rarely repeating specific opening strategies during matches, and displaying a genius for attack. He had a reputation for eccentricity and petulance that matched his talents. During the 1972 Spassky match, he constantly demanded changes to tournament conditions and provisions for the players.

Fischer’s victory was followed by two decades of withdrawal from competitive play and he lived as a recluse. The first challenger to his title was Russian Anatoly Karpov in 1975. Fischer eventually boycotted the match, and he lost his title without making a single move. It was his last competitive game for almost 20 years.

Second Spassky Match

In 1992, Fischer emerged for a re-match with Spassky in Yugoslavia. He won the match, taking some $3.5 million in prize money. The U.S. government issued a warrant for his arrest for taking part in the competition, claiming he violated United Nations sanctions against the country. By then, a split in chess authorities meant Kasparov was widely recognized as world champion, although Fischer objected.

Spassky was ``very sorry’’ to hear of former opponent’s death, he told the New York Times from France.

Fischer moved to Iceland in 2005 after publicly criticizing his home country on several occasions and eventually renouncing U.S. citizenship. Though his mother was Jewish, he frequently made anti-Semitic remarks in press interviews.

Fischer was arrested at a Japanese airport in 2004, where he was accused of trying to leave the country on a revoked passport. After considering his deportation to the U.S., the authorities released him to Iceland in 2005 after the country offered him citizenship. 

Posted by SPN on 01/18 at 09:44 AM
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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Bob Johnson - the Apology

“I’m writing to apologize to you and your family personally for the un-called-for comments I made at a recent Clinton event,” Johnson said in a statement. “In my zeal to support Senator Clinton, I made some very inappropriate remarks for which I am truly sorry. I hope that you will accept this apology. Good luck on the campaign trail.” --Johnson’s comments support the view everybody with a brain knew he was referring to in his attack on Obama this past Sunday.

Posted by Nuttshell on 01/17 at 12:59 PM
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IBFF is hosting John Sayles’ provocative new film “HoneyDripper” starring Danny Glover

IBFF Members and Supporters:

the IBFF is hosting screenings of John Sayles provocative new film “HoneyDripper” starring Danny Glover @Cinema Village located on 12th Street between University & 5th Avenue this (1/17-1/20/08) Thursday @7:15pm Friday @ 7:15pm Saturday @7:15pm and Sunday @1:50pm and 7:15pm.

The film is set in rural Alabama during the 1950’s and has a stellar cast that includes Danny Glover, Charles S. Dutton, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Stacy Keach and others.

HoneyDripper contains the uplifting and informative messages that are the hallmark of the IBFF and we urge you to join us at the cinema this weekend.

Sincerely,

Allen C. Dawson

Director, IBFF

Posted by SPN on 01/17 at 09:21 AM
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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

FDA Announces That Food From Clones Is Safe To Eat

Agency Concludes that Meat and Milk from Clones of Cattle, Swine, and Goats, and the Offspring of All Clones, are as Safe to Eat as Food from Conventionally Bred Animals

After years of detailed study and analysis, the Food and Drug Administration has concluded that meat and milk from clones of cattle, swine, and goats, and the offspring of clones from any species traditionally consumed as food, are as safe to eat as food from conventionally bred animals. There was insufficient information for the agency to reach a conclusion on the safety of food from clones of other animal species, such as sheep.  FDA today issued three documents on animal cloning outlining the agency’s regulatory approach – a risk assessment; a risk management plan; and guidance for industry.  The documents were originally released in draft form in December 2006. Since that time, the risk assessment has been updated to include new scientific information. That new information reinforces the food safety conclusions of the drafts.  In 2001, U.S. producers agreed to refrain from introducing meat or milk from clones or their progeny into the food supply until FDA could further evaluate the issue. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will convene stakeholders to discuss efforts to provide a smooth and orderly market transition, as industry determines next steps with respect to the existing voluntary moratorium.  The agency is not requiring labeling or any other additional measures for food from cattle, swine, and goat clones, or their offspring because food derived from these sources is no different from food derived from conventionally bred animals. Should a producer express a desire for voluntary labeling (e.g., “this product is clone-free"), it will be considered on a case-by-case basis to ensure compliance with statutory requirements that labeling be truthful and not misleading.  Because clones would be used for breeding, they would not be expected to enter the food supply in any significant number. Instead, their sexually reproduced offspring would be used for producing meat and milk for the marketplace. At this time, the agency continues to recommend that food from clones of species other than cattle, swine and goat (e.g., sheep) not be introduced into the food supply.  An animal clone is a genetic copy of a donor animal, similar to an identical twin, but born at a different time. Cloning is not the same as genetic engineering, which involves altering, adding or deleting DNA; cloning does not change the gene sequence. Due to their cost and rarity, clones are intended to be used as elite breeding animals to introduce desirable traits into herds more rapidly than would be possible using conventional breeding.

Risk assessment
The risk assessment finds that meat and milk from clones of cattle, swine, and goats, and food from the sexually reproduced offspring of clones, are as safe to eat as food from conventionally bred animals. The science-based conclusions agree with those of the National Academy of Sciences, released in a 2002 report. The assessment was peer-reviewed by a group of independent scientific experts in cloning and animal health. They found the methods FDA used to evaluate the data were adequate and agreed with the conclusions set out in the document.
The risk assessment presents an overview of assisted reproductive technologies widely used in animal agriculture, the extensive scientific information available on the health of animal clones and their sexually reproduced offspring, and an assessment of whether food from clones or their sexually reproduced offspring could pose food consumption risks different from the risks posed by food from conventionally bred animals. These conclusions were first presented in draft documents over a year ago. Since then, the agency has updated the risk assessment with data that became available, as well as taking into account comments from the public comment period.  “After reviewing additional data and the public comments in the intervening year since the release of our draft documents on cloning, we conclude that meat and milk from cattle, swine, and goat clones are as safe as food we eat every day,” said Stephen F. Sundlof, D.V.M., Ph.D., director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “Our additional review strengthens our conclusions on food safety.”

Risk management plan
The risk management plan outlines measures that FDA has taken to address the risks that cloning poses to animals involved in the cloning process. These risks all have been observed in other assisted reproductive technologies currently used in common agricultural practices in the United States.  FDA is currently working with scientific and professional societies with expertise in animal health and reproduction to develop standards of care for animals involved in the cloning process. Although the agency is not charged with addressing ethical issues related to animal cloning for agricultural purposes, FDA plans to continue to provide scientific expertise to interested parties working on these issues.

Guidance for industry
The guidance for industry addresses the use of food and feed products derived from clones and their offspring. It is directed at clone producers, livestock breeders, and farmers and ranchers purchasing clones, and provides the agency’s current thinking on use of clones and their offspring in human food or animal feed.  In the guidance, FDA does not recommend any special measures relating to the use of products from cattle, swine, or goat clones as human food or animal feed. Because insufficient information was available on clones from other species, e.g., sheep clones, to make a decision on the food consumption risks, the guidance recommends that food products from clones of other species continue to be excluded from the human food supply. The guidance states that food products from the offspring of clones from any species traditionally consumed for food are suitable to enter the food and feed supply.

Posted by Wayne McDonald on 01/16 at 04:20 PM
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The new Apple Macbook Air.  The world’s thinnest laptop.

How can you deny the beauty of this thing?  I know that this isn’t the first solid state laptop on the market, but it is the first one I’d seriously consider buying.  I only wish that it had built-in ethernet.  I guess that’s one of the breaks.  Watch the ad and be prepared to want it.


Posted by SPN on 01/16 at 02:43 PM
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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Lawyer defends his monthly $14K child payments

Why doesn’t he just petition the court for custody of the kids?  Dang this would be so much easier!  This is a waste of the tax payers money and the court systems time. 

Lawyer defends his monthly $14K child payments

By STEVE VISSER
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published on: 01/14/08

Renowned trial lawyer Willie Gary had a very personal case before the Georgia Supreme Court Monday.

And for a publicity savvy lawyer, it was clear that this was one case he wanted to avoid scrutiny because it dealt with back child support and a legal blunder — his own.

“I’m trying not to try this case in the press,” he said, and then added with a rueful smile, “ because it’s mine.”

Gary, who is married with four adult children, fathered twins with Atlanta-resident Diana Gowins during what is described as a brief relationship when Gowins was living in the lawyer’s home state of Florida.

“She was in Florida training for the 2000 Olympics and she was looking for him to sponsor her,” said Robert Moss, Gowins’ lawyer.

The twins were born November of that year.

The two reached an out-of-court agreement that states he is to pay child support of $14,000 a month per child but Gary contends that when he signed the document he only meant to agree to $14,000 a month total.

That legal misstep has sparked nearly four years of trial court rulings, contempt charges, and appellate rulings.

Gowins contends $28,000 a month is pocket change for a guy who according to court papers pays $150,000 to maintain his personal Boeing 737 and estimated his personal fortune to be $60 million in 2003.

But Gary argues in court papers that Gowins “had misused, misappropriated and wasted the money he had given her.”

He said he paid $500,000 for support payments, college tuition funds, a new house, and child medical payments by 2005 but at that time only $25 remained in the bank for his children.

Gary contends that Gowins agreed the payment should only be $14,000 monthly, plus payments for specific items from the signing of their agreement in 2002 until Gowins filed a paternity suit to enforce the agreement’s actual language in 2004.

In 2005, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Cynthia Wright granted Gowins $28,000 in monthly child support.

So far, Gary has lost most of the legal fights with either the trial judge or appellate judges siding with Gowins.

Right now, the high court has to decide whether Wright can force Gary to pay nearly $600,000 in back payments Gowins contends he owes her.

As most deadbeat dads know, a judge can jail them if they don’t pay child support. The Gary case is complicated by the fact that while Wright has previously ruled that Gary has to pay the $28,000 a month, she said she could not jail him for nonpayments before her 2005 order. The Georgia Court of Appeals, however, disagreed and ruled Wright had that power.

Gary appealed to the Supreme Court. Gowins appeared confident Monday that the high court would decide in her favor.

“He is doing what he wants to do, not what the courts have asked him to do,” she said of her short-time lover.

Gary won a brief victory in 2006 when Wright, apparently fed up with Gowins’ spending, reduced the child support payments to $5,000 a month, plus $2500 a month for private school. The judge had previously chastised Gowins about her spending and suggested she get a job. Gowins told the court she had the right to be a stay-at-home mom.

But the Court of Appeals reversed that ruling last November.

Gary’s lawyers had won the lower payment party by arguing Gowins had made $95,000 through investing the support money.

“The irony is that they had earlier argued that she had squandered that money and lost the investment,” Moss said. “She made some terrific investments and now they’re trying to use the good investment against her.”

Posted by loni on 01/15 at 12:28 PM
Blogging • (1) CommentsPermalink

What’s the matter with people?

Why don’t people understand what voting is all about?  I’ve been hearing more and more people say this or a variation of it, “I’m not voting for [insert candidate here] because I don’t think [insert candidate here] will win and I don’t want to waste my vote.”

What’s the matter with people?  Elections aren’t popularity contests!

The problem is that so many people pay too much attention to published polls that they forget the purpose of THEIR individual vote.  They feel that if a poll says that candidate X is ahead, then that candidate is the only viable one running.

NH is an example of the fallacy of that type of faulty thinking.  Obama was ahead in almost every poll yet he lost to Clinton.  This should be proof enough to explain it.

Has anyone else heard this mess?

Posted by SPN on 01/15 at 12:45 PM
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Monday, January 14, 2008

Robert Johnson has violated The Cardinal Rule - Don’t Cut Down Other Black People in Public

That man should have his “black card” ripped up immediately!  Regardless of how one feels about Obama, Bob Johnson’s comments were out-of-line.  I have never had much respect for him because of his “booty time” television but his comments take the cake.

Jan. 14, 2008 | In the annals of improbable explanations, Bob Johnson’s ranks right there at the top. Introducing Hillary Clinton at a campaign event in South Carolina Sunday, Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television, said that the Clintons were “deeply and emotionally involved in black issues” when Barack Obama was still “doing something in the neighborhood, that I won’t say what he was doing, but he said it in his book.”

Another not-so-veiled reference to Obama’s admissions of past drug use? In a statement released Sunday afternoon, Johnson said it would be “simply irresponsible and incorrect” to read his words that way. “My comments today were referring to Barack Obama’s time spent as a community organizer, and nothing else,” he insisted.

As Walter Shapiro notes today in Salon, Johnson’s explanation is “giggle"-inducing. But maybe it’s a little worse than that. Johnson’s explanation came via an e-mail message distributed by the Clinton campaign’s press office, which certainly suggests some kind of stamp of approval for a claim that’s so obviously false. And this morning, Johnson’s statement got a semi-explicit endorsement from Bill Clinton himself. Asked about Johnson’s explanation in a radio interview, the former president said: “I think we have to take him at his word.”

Clinton said that “nobody knew” what Johnson was going to say Sunday, and he insisted that it “wasn’t part of any planned strategy.” If that sounds familiar, maybe it’s because it is. When Clinton’s New Hampshire co-chair raised the issue of Obama’s past drug use as a barrier to his electability last month, a Clinton campaign spokeswoman said the remarks “were not authorized or condoned by the campaign in any way.” And when Clinton strategist Mark Penn went out of his way to mention Obama’s “cocaine” use on “Hardball” last month, he said that “the issue related to cocaine use is not something that the campaign was in any way raising.”

Then, as now, we’ll just have to take him at his word.

-- Tim Grieve Salon Magazine

Posted by Nuttshell on 01/14 at 03:13 PM
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Thursday, January 10, 2008

African Union command officially took control the peacekeeping mission in Darfur.

On December 31, a hybrid United Nations-African Union command officially took control of the peacekeeping mission for Darfur.

But the mission is already in danger of failing. Few new peacekeepers have actually been deployed because of obstructions by the Sudanese regime, and world leaders aren’t providing critical equipment essential to the peacekeepers’ success.

Right now, this peacekeeping mission does not have ANY of the 24 helicopters it needs to protect the people of Darfur.

President Bush must do everything in his power to secure commitments from world leaders.

In a region as vast as Darfur, helicopters are essential for the peacekeeping effort. This effort cannot succeed without helicopters for transport, reconnaissance, and security.

Countries in NATO collectively have 18,000 helicopters, and many other nations have the capacity to contribute as well. But no one has yet contributed any to the U.N.-A.U. peacekeeping mission. World leaders are failing to match their words with actions and are turning away from genocide. Again.

President Bush must further his commitment to Darfur and press other nations to step up to the plate and follow through on their commitments. 

Posted by SPN on 01/10 at 11:00 AM
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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Katrina victims swamp corps with trillions in claims

See the full story here Why don’t they just sue me instead.  I funded the Corps of Engineers with my tax dollars.  Or better yet, they should sue the dinosaurs that died and decomposed into fossil fuel that, after burning, feeds global warming.

WASHINGTON — Tens of thousands of people whose property was destroyed when Hurricane Katrina overwhelmed New Orleans’ protective levees have filed claims demanding the government pay astronomical sums that would be enough money to make multimillionaires of everyone in Louisiana.

The Army Corps of Engineers received 247 claims from residents, businesses and government agencies seeking $1 billion or more, according to the agency. That’s the tip of a very large iceberg: The corps, which designed and built the city’s storm protections, faces more than 489,000 claims for the damage and deaths in the post-Katrina flooding.

The claims are so massive the government could never hope to pay them. Rather, they are the hopeful — and at times inflated — requests of people reeling from losses.

Just the top filings add up to so much money that the entire annual output of the nation’s economy — $12 trillion — couldn’t pay them off, according to the corps’ listing. It is the first public accounting of the scale of damage demands the corps faces. 

Posted by SPN on 01/09 at 02:57 PM
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