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Monday, March 28, 2011

Perils and Opportunities for Obama in Libya - NYTimes.com

Perils and Opportunities for Obama in Libya - NYTimes.com

Politicians define themselves by choosing enemies, and exemplars. Suddenly, President Obama’s choices on Libya are reshaping his profile in unpredictable ways as he heads into the 2012 election season.

The president and his advisers have already highlighted the central factors that influenced Mr. Obama’s decision to act militarily, a process he plans to explain more fully to the nation at 7:30 p.m. Monday.

In Muammar el-Qaddafi, Mr. Obama saw an autocrat on the verge of committing mass murder.

In Bill Clinton, he saw a president who chose not to stop such atrocities and later regretted it.

In George W. Bush, he saw a go-it-alone style of intervention ill suited to the transformative forces now sweeping across the Middle East.

Those judgments produced the diplomatically chaotic, militarily complicated and strategically ambiguous Libyan action by the United States and an array of allies. Mr. Obama calls it not an act of war but rather a quickly arranged and temporary humanitarian response representing “how the international community should work.”

Yet his choices face withering questions from friends and foes alike. A rapid departure by Colonel Qaddafi and American forces would quiet them; an extended commitment would undercut his oft-repeated focus on economic revival at home.

“If Jeffersonian Democrats take over in Libya, he’s a hero,” said Robert Borosage, who directs the liberal Campaign for America’s Future. “If he gets stuck in an ongoing civil war, then it could be enormously costly to the country, and to him politically.”

At minimum, Mr. Obama has introduced a new measure of his performance that almost no one would have expected when he defined his 2008 candidacy, in part, by his opposition to the Iraq war.

Action and Reaction

Presidential aspirants, in what they offer, and voters, in whom they support, typically react to the immediate past.

After the scandals of Richard M. Nixon, Jimmy Carter promised virtue. After Mr. Carter gained a reputation for small-bore fecklessness, Ronald Reagan pledged robust leadership that did not sweat the details. After George H. W. Bush won the Persian Gulf war, Bill Clinton vowed to focus on an ailing economy.

And after the younger Mr. Bush embraced his role as “war president,” Mr. Obama stood out among his major challengers as an opponent of the Iraq war since 2002, even before it started.

Mr. Obama said then that he opposed “dumb” wars, not all of them. By increasing forces in Afghanistan, President Obama fulfilled a pledge to reinvigorate a mission he argued Mr. Bush had neglected.

The Libya intervention is different. Mr. Obama initiated it, applying two lessons drawn from his predecessors.

One is the “responsibility to protect” innocents from slaughter, as Mr. Clinton failed to do in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Mr. Obama judged Colonel Qaddafi’s vow to show Libyan rebels “no mercy” such a case.

The second is the need for greater international coordination than Mr. Bush relied upon. Mr. Obama did not commit American forces until NATO allies, the Arab League and the United Nations backed the idea — and only for the stated purpose of protecting civilians, not to satisfy his separate call for Colonel Qaddafi’s ouster.

The result: a unique set of political risks and rewards all Mr. Obama’s own.

Great, if It Works

Bruce W. Jentleson, a Duke University professor, Clinton administration veteran and part-time adviser to Mr. Obama’s State Department, called the intervention crucial to the president’s foreign policy and overall political standing.

“If this succeeds,” he said, “he will have demonstrated he’s a president who can make multilateralism work, and use American power in ways that are effective for a 21st-century world.”

Yet Mr. Obama faces skeptics across the political spectrum.

“It should not be assumed that a massacre or genocide was about to happen,” asserted Richard Haass, a veteran of both Bush administrations who is now president of the Council on Foreign Relations. Colonel Qaddafi, he said, may have been seeking merely to intimidate potential foes. It also is not clear, Mr. Haass added, that Libyan rebels are more humane, democratic or friendly to American interests.

Among Democrats, some liberals support using force for humanitarian purposes. But as Mr. Obama prepares his 2012 campaign, Mr. Borosage predicted “greater and greater restiveness” over a new military commitment amid persistent economic distress.

A Gallup survey last week showed only about half of Americans backed the intervention, about the same proportion as backed the 1999 NATO airstrikes in Kosovo that Mr. Clinton authorized for humanitarian reasons. That finding underscored the political burden Mr. Obama has taken on.

“Approval will almost invariably go down from here,” said Scott Althaus, an expert on war and public opinion at the University of Illinois. “There’s little historical evidence that support can be sustained at even this modest level for very long.”

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Bill Maher Discusses The Racist Sentiment Of The 51% Of Republicans Who Are Biirthers

video
Obama won the 2008 election fair and square.  These birthers are all losers. 

This discussion has nothing to do with Obama’s place of birth. They know he was born in Hawaii. They don’t like his race and they are to cowardly to admit it. It is not fashionable anymore to say you hate blacks anymore.

They are whining from the dumpster of American society as they are being transported to the white trash dung heap of American history with the rest of America's racist cretins.

Most of white America has moved on from these type of narrow, primitive, tribal beliefs. Obama won with a huge amount of white support. However this loudmouthed, resentful minority of dregs can’t face that reality, so they make up a story line that Obama is not American. They are pathetic losers. 

Shame on Republicans who cower before them in fear. They however are part of a long line of politicians who played ball with and pandered to racist sentiment in America. Let the whole dung heap of birthers and politicians who pander to them burn in hell.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Cellphones Track Your Every Move, and You May Not Even Know - NYTimes.com

Cellphones Track Your Every Move, and You May Not Even Know - NYTimes.com

By NOAM COHEN
A favorite pastime of Internet users is to share their location: services like Google Latitude can inform friends when you are nearby; another, Foursquare, has turned reporting these updates into a game.

But as a German Green party politician, Malte Spitz, recently learned, we are already continually being tracked whether we volunteer to be or not. Cellphone companies do not typically divulge how much information they collect, so Mr. Spitz went to court to find out exactly what his cellphone company, Deutsche Telekom, knew about his whereabouts.

The results were astounding. In a six-month period — from Aug 31, 2009, to Feb. 28, 2010, Deutsche Telekom had recorded and saved his longitude and latitude coordinates more than 35,000 times. It traced him from a train on the way to Erlangen at the start through to that last night, when he was home in Berlin.

Mr. Spitz has provided a rare glimpse — an unprecedented one, privacy experts say — of what is being collected as we walk around with our phones. Unlike many online services and Web sites that must send “cookies” to a user’s computer to try to link its traffic to a specific person, cellphone companies simply have to sit back and hit “record.”

“We are all walking around with little tags, and our tag has a phone number associated with it, who we called and what we do with the phone,” said Sarah E. Williams, an expert on graphic information at Columbia University’s architecture school. “We don’t even know we are giving up that data.”

Tracking a customer’s whereabouts is part and parcel of what phone companies do for a living. Every seven seconds or so, the phone company of someone with a working cellphone is determining the nearest tower, so as to most efficiently route calls. And for billing reasons, they track where the call is coming from and how long it has lasted.

“At any given instant, a cell company has to know where you are; it is constantly registering with the tower with the strongest signal,” said Matthew Blaze, a professor of computer and information science at the University of Pennsylvania who has testified before Congress on the issue.

Mr. Spitz’s information, Mr. Blaze pointed out, was not based on those frequent updates, but on how often Mr. Spitz checked his e-mail.

Mr. Spitz, a privacy advocate, decided to be extremely open with his personal information. Late last month, he released all the location information in a publicly accessible Google Document, and worked with Zeit Online, a sister publication of a prominent German newspaper, Die Zeit, to map those coordinates over time.

“This is really the most compelling visualization in a public forum I have ever seen,” said Mr. Blaze, adding that it “shows how strong a picture even a fairly low-resolution location can give.”

In an interview from Berlin, Mr. Spitz explained his reasons: “It was an important point to show this is not some kind of a game. I thought about it, if it is a good idea to publish all the data — I also could say, O.K., I will only publish it for five, 10 days maybe. But then I said no, I really want to publish the whole six months.”

In the United States, telecommunication companies do not have to report precisely what material they collect, said Kevin Bankston, a lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who specializes in privacy. He added that based on court cases he could say that “they store more of it and it is becoming more precise.”

“Phones have become a necessary part of modern life,” he said, objecting to the idea that “you have to hand over your personal privacy to be part of the 21st century.”

In the United States, there are law enforcement and safety reasons for cellphone companies being encouraged to keep track of its customers. Both the F.B.I. and the Drug Enforcement Administration have used cellphone records to identify suspects and make arrests.

If the information is valuable to law enforcement, it could be lucrative for marketers. The major American cellphone providers declined to explain what exactly they collect and what they use it for.

Verizon, for example, declined to elaborate other than to point to its privacy policy, which includes: “Information such as call records, service usage, traffic data,” the statement in part reads, may be used for “marketing to you based on your use of the products and services you already have, subject to any restrictions required by law.”

AT&T, for example, works with a company, Sense Networks, that uses anonymous location information “to better understand aggregate human activity.” One product, CitySense, makes recommendations about local nightlife to customers who choose to participate based on their cellphone usage. (Many smartphone apps already on the market are based on location but that’s with the consent of the user and through GPS, not the cellphone company’s records.)

Because of Germany’s history, courts place a greater emphasis on personal privacy. Mr. Spitz first went to court to get his entire file in 2009 but Deutsche Telekom objected.

For six months, he said, there was a “Ping Pong game” of lawyers’ letters back and forth until, separately, the Constitutional Court there decided that the existing rules governing data retention, beyond those required for billing and logistics, were illegal. Soon thereafter, the two sides reached a settlement: “I only get the information that is related to me, and I don’t get all the information like who am I calling, who sent me a SMS and so on,” Mr. Spitz said, referring to text messages.

Even so, 35,831 pieces of information were sent to him by Deutsche Telekom as an encrypted file, to protect his privacy during its transmission.

Deutsche Telekom, which owns T-Mobile, Mr. Spitz’s carrier, wrote in an e-mail that it stored six months’ of data, as required by the law, and that after the court ruling it “immediately ceased” storing data.

And a year after the court ruling outlawing this kind of data retention, there is a movement to try to get a new, more limited law passed. Mr. Spitz, at 26 a member of the Green Party’s executive board, says he released that material to influence that debate.

“I want to show the political message that this kind of data retention is really, really big and you can really look into the life of people for six months and see what they are doing where they are.”

While the potential for abuse is easy to imagine, in Mr. Spitz’s case, there was not much revealed.

“I really spend most of the time in my own neighborhood, which was quite funny for me,” he said. “I am not really walking that much around.”

Any embarrassing details? “The data shows that I am flying sometimes,” he said, rather than taking a more fuel-efficient train. “Something not that popular for a Green politician.”

Wal-Mart’s Push in New York Has Look of Political Campaign - NYTimes.com

A typical Wal-Mart discount department store i...Image via WikipediaWal-Mart’s Push in New York Has Look of Political Campaign - NYTimes.com

By ELIZABETH A. HARRIS
It persuaded the makers of All laundry detergent to shrink their bottles by more than half to generate less waste. It got thousands of farmers to stop using pesticides. And it encouraged millions of consumers to dump incandescent light bulbs in favor of energy-sipping compact fluorescents.

But for all of its arm-twisting powers of persuasion, Wal-Mart has been unable to achieve the simplest of ambitions: to set up shop in New York City, America’s biggest urban retail market.

It is a galling failure for a company that transcended its humble rural roots to become a global behemoth.

So now Wal-Mart is pursuing that goal with the intensity, sophistication and checkbook of a full-fledged political campaign, hiring star political consultants, including Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s former campaign manager, producing expensive television and print advertisements and conducting polls.

And it is doing it with the kind of in-your-face aggressiveness that would make a New Yorker proud.

A glossy brochure it mailed to thousands of city residents appeals to their sense of autonomy, declaring: “You don’t ask the special interests or the political insiders for permission to watch TV. So why should they decide where you’re allowed to shop?”

Stealing a page from the candidate playbook, the company has even taken to firing off rapid-response “fact-checker” e-mails to New York reporters to undercut its opponents.

“They look like someone driving toward Election Day,” said Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker. “They have all the things that are on your to-do list if you’re running a campaign.”

But what may be most remarkable about Wal-Mart’s bid is that it is happening at all. Just four years ago, the company proudly proclaimed that it had written New York off. Its chief executive then, H. Lee Scott Jr., said, “I don’t care if we are ever here.”

Much, however, has changed. Wal-Mart’s domestic sales at existing stores, a crucial yardstick in retailing, have been flagging for years, and Wall Street is losing its patience.

The chain long ago saturated rural and suburban markets with its giant emporiums, leaving it one option: to penetrate America’s cities, whose liberal-leaning residents have for years seemed to snub Wal-Mart, which has been criticized over wage and personnel policies. Indeed, Wal-Mart recently announced plans for several new stores in Chicago.

Intentionally or not, a top Wal-Mart executive sounded like a politician during a meeting with investors last October when talking about the company’s urban strategy. “Most people would think that our base in America is probably people who’ve historically self-identified themselves as conservative voters,” said Leslie Dach, Wal-Mart’s executive vice president of corporate affairs and government relations, adding that the company was seeing “very good” growth among moderate voters.

“So now we only have one segment left,” he said. “People who self-identify themselves as liberals.”

In New York, an indisputably Democratic city, Wal-Mart faces a big challenge, both from lawmakers, like Ms. Quinn, and from unions, who accuse the retailer of endangering small businesses and mistreating its workers.

Wal-Mart has responded with an all-out push meant to overwhelm and outmaneuver its far less deep-pocketed opposition. It has put out a flurry of television, radio and newspaper advertisements, including one radio spot that accuses opponents of not caring “about how many jobs Wal-Mart would create or how badly people need them.”

Adopting another familiar campaign strategy, Wal-Mart commissioned its own poll in December that supported its cause. The company said the survey showed that 71 percent of New Yorkers favored having Wal-Mart stores in the city.

(A poll conducted this month by Quinnipiac University found that 57 percent of New York City voters thought that Wal-Mart should be allowed to open stores in the city.)

Helping direct Wal-Mart’s campaign is a who’s who of the political world. Bradley Tusk, a leader in the effort, managed Mr. Bloomberg’s re-election bid in 2009 and is still close to the mayor, a strong supporter of Wal-Mart’s campaign.

Doug Schoen, Wal-Mart’s pollster, is a seasoned political hand who has worked for Mr. Bloomberg, Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Mr. Dach also has a long political résumé, having played prominent roles in the presidential campaigns for Michael S. Dukakis and Senator John Kerry.

The company has also unleashed an aggressive media strategy, rapidly alerting reporters to anything that might cast its competitors or opponents in a poor light.

The company was quick to point out that Wal-Mart, unlike other chains like CVS, does not appear on a New York State database of companies cited for labor violations.

Though most campaign managers relish the chance to champion their candidate in the news media, Wal-Mart made it clear that Mr. Tusk would not speak to a reporter for this article. Mr. Dach also shied away from talking in detail about the company’s tactics.

“Unlike some of these other campaigns, we’re here to stay for a while,” he said. “We’re in this to talk to people at their own pace, and we want to talk to them in all the different ways they get information.”

Wal-Mart executives declined to say how much they had spent on advertising in New York, but according to Kantar Media, a company that tracks advertising, Wal-Mart spent over $2.8 million in the first half of 2010 on advertisements in Chicago as it battled to build more stores there. In a small but telling change, Wal-Mart revamped its logo three years ago, from a deep-blue version that some marketers said had a politically conservative feel to lighter blue text punctuated by a yellow twinkle meant to suggest a more caring attitude.

Dorian T. Warren, who teaches political science at Columbia University and is writing a book about Wal-Mart’s efforts to open stores in large cities, said the company was pulling everything out of the campaign toolbox.

“They’re trying to influence public opinion and create a political environment that’s supportive,” Dr. Warren said. “Their ground campaign is going into neighborhoods and trying to basically win endorsements of noted leaders.”

In the mid-2000s, Wal-Mart abandoned efforts to open stores in Queens and on Staten Island after encountering stiff opposition from unions, small businesses and local politicians.

The same forces are again arrayed against Wal-Mart, but this time the company believes conditions are more favorable. Now Wal-Mart is widely considered a better corporate citizen, environmentally friendly, with affordable employee health care plans. Company executives think they have earned their place alongside unionized stores in New York, especially since the city has become home to other big-box stores, like Target and Costco.

So far, Wal-Mart has not said where in New York it wants to put its first store, though one frequently mentioned site is in East New York, Brooklyn. While the retailer would not need Council approval to open a store there, that may not necessarily be the case for other sites in the future.

Still, Wal-Mart in New York may not necessarily look like the stores that have forested much of the rest of the country. The main difference would be size — the retailer says some stores in New York would be less than 30,000 square feet, much smaller than the average 180,000-square-foot Wal-Mart supercenter.

Reducing the size of the Wal-Mart buildings will not mollify opponents, who, despite having far less money than the retailer, have organized rallies, recruited support from national groups, attracted a strong turnout at Council hearings on Wal-Mart and set up their own Web site, at walmartfreenyc.com. After Wal-Mart officials declined invitations to testify before the Council this year, detractors likened the decision to skipping a political debate.

But that did not mean the barrage of criticism heaped on Wal-Mart went unchallenged. Inside the Council chamber, two men in crisp suits distributed folders, emblazoned with the Wal-Mart logo and loaded with rosy facts about the company.

The two men, employees of a public relations firm used by Wal-Mart, furiously tapped e-mails on their cellphones to Steven Restivo, a Wal-Mart spokesman, who was watching the hearing on a computer in Manhattan.

As lawyers and former Wal-Mart workers denounced the company’s labor practices, Mr. Restivo fired off “fact-checker” e-mails to reporters.

“For whatever it’s worth,” read one message, “many of these lawsuits were filed years ago and the allegations are not representative of the company we are today.” Another said, “The assertion that Wal-Mart does not offer maternity leave is false.”

The e-mails kept popping up for nearly four hours.

Friday, March 25, 2011

GE pays $0 in taxes - Republicans have slashed benefits for workers, the poor, single moms and children while also slashing taxes for corporations. This year America's biggest corporation, General Electric, paid nothing in income tax. MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell has the rewrite.

Mixed Marriages in the South The 2010 census shows that the nation's mixed race population is growing faster than demographers expected.

Few safety improvements in deepwater drilling since disaster - Bob Cavnar, oil and gas industry veteran and author of "Disaster on the Horizon," talks with Rachel Maddow about how little has changed in deepwater drilling safety since the Deepwater Horizon disaster and flaws in the design of blowout preventers.

Indiana prosecutor resigns over Walker email | WisconsinWatch.org

Indiana prosecutor resigns over Walker email | WisconsinWatch.org

An Indiana deputy prosecutor and Republican activist resigned Thursday after the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism uncovered an email to Gov. Scott Walker in which he suggested a fake attack on the governor to discredit union protesters.
Carlos F. Lam submitted his resignation shortly before the Center published a story quoting his Feb. 19 email, which praised Walker for standing up to unions but went on to say that the chaos in Wisconsin presented “a good opportunity for what’s called a ‘false flag’ operation.”

“If you could employ an associate who pretends to be sympathetic to the unions’ cause to physically attack you (or even use a firearm against you), you could discredit the unions,” the email said. “Currently, the media is painting the union protest as a democratic uprising and failing to mention the role of the DNC and umbrella union organizations in the protest. Employing a false flag operation would assist in undercutting any support that the media may be creating in favor of the unions. God bless, Carlos F. Lam.”

At 5 a.m. Thursday, expecting the story to come out that day, Lam called his boss, Johnson County, Ind., Prosecutor Brad Cooper, and told him he had been up all night thinking about it. “He wanted to come clean, I guess, and said he is the one who sent that email,” Cooper said.
He came into the office and gave his resignation verbally, Cooper told the Daily Journal in Franklin, Ind. The resignation was announced after the Center’s initial story was published.

Email headers with detailed IP addresses suggested that the message was sent from Indianapolis.
Lam, an Indianapolis resident, at first told the Center he never wrote it. Reached Tuesday by phone at the number listed on the email, Lam confirmed his email address matched the Hotmail address appearing on the Walker email, but said he had never written to Walker. “I am flabbergasted and would never advocate for something like this, and would like everyone to be sure that that’s just not me,” he said, after being read the email.

Indiana deputy prosecutor Carlos Lam confirms this email appears to be from his email address, but he denies sending it. Click to see a larger version in a new page.
Asked his views on Scott Walker, Lam said, “I think he’s trying to do what he has to do to get his budget balanced. But jeez, that’s taking it a little bit to the extreme,” he said of the email’s suggestion to fake violence. “Jeez!” He said he was minivan-shopping with his family when the email was sent.

Walker’s bill to balance the budget and strip most collective bargaining rights from public employees was introduced Feb. 11 and triggered protests involving tens of thousands of people at the Capitol for weeks.Lam is the second Indiana prosecutor to resign over suggestions to use violence in Wisconsin. He sent this email the same Saturday on which another Indiana law-enforcement figure, state Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Cox, tweeted that riot police should “use live ammunition” to clear the Capitol of protesters. Cox was fired Feb. 23 after Mother Jones magazine published the suggestion from his private Twitter account.

The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism discovered the email to Walker among tens of thousands released to media organizations last week as part of an open-records lawsuit settlement with Isthmus and the Associated Press. It was in a folder produced by the governor’s office called “Pro,” full of emails supporting the governor’s budget repair bill. A lawyer in the governor’s office, Nate Ristow, said most of the emails to Walker were sorted into folders automatically by a computer, though some were added to the folders manually.

Cullen Werwie, Walker’s press secretary, said no one at the office had seen the email or contacted Lam. Werwie condemned the email’s suggestions Monday in a statement to the Center. “Certainly we do not support the actions suggested in Carlos’ email. Governor Walker has said time and again that the protesters have every right to have their voice heard, and for the most part the protests have been peaceful. We are hopeful that the tradition will continue,” Werwie wrote. What’s a false flag operation?

The expression derives from the naval practice of flying another country’s flag to deceive one’s enemy. It was used in World War II several times, as when the British dressed up a U.S. destroyer, the Campbelltown, as a German sub-chaser. That allowed them to get close enough to the German-held dry-dock at St. Nazairre to blow it up.
It’s been used to describe political activities, too. An aide to Republican Congressman Charlie Bass resigned in 2006 after posing as a supporter of a Bass opponent and posting discouraging messages on political websites.

On Feb. 22, when a prank-caller posing as major Walker campaign donor David Koch suggested planting troublemakers in the crowd, Walker began by saying, “Well, the only problem with that — because we thought about that,” but ultimately said he’d decided it was a bad idea. “My only fear would be is if there was a ruckus caused is that that would scare the public into thinking maybe the governor has gotta settle to avoid all these problems,” Walker told the blogger. Walker’s comments troubled Madison Police Chief Noble Wray and Mayor Dave Cieslewicz. “I find it very unsettling and troubling that anyone would consider creating safety risks for our citizens and law enforcement officers,” Wray said in a statement at the time. Lam, who had asked that his name not be used, said he was particularly concerned since “the person who wrote this seems to know a lot about me” and his account “had been hacked in the past.” On the advice of Cooper, he took down his Facebook page, changed his cell phone number, email passwords, “library, medical, bank, student loan, and a whole host of records,” and was afraid for his and his family’s safety. He said he had made some political enemies, particularly in primary fights he helped on, and also said he often left his email account open at his home. But he said he couldn’t think of any specific suspects.

Madison Police Det. Cindy Murphy said that if Lam’s account was hacked and his identity was stolen, either Wisconsin or Indiana could have jurisdiction over that crime.
Murphy, who specializes in computer forensics, said it would have been simple to figure out whether Lam had been hacked by requesting information from Hotmail and his Internet service provider. Lam had declined to name his provider to the Center.

Prosecutor outspoken about conservative views
Lam’s blog posts, video appearances and comments on the Internet paint the picture of an outspoken, politically active, longtime Republican who has publicly lambasted collective bargaining for state employee unions and alluded to government taxation as “essentially taking money at gunpoint.”

Carlos Lam's comments online are consistent with some of the sentiments in the email. In one of his 1,306 comments on a stock investors’ site, Lam called Indiana “an unsustainable public worker gravy train bubble.” In another, he said “unions & companies that feed at the gov’t trough will fight tooth & nail against anything that un-feathers their nests.” Lam wrote in his account profile there that he “believes that to truly prosper as the republic envisioned by the Founding Fathers, we must return to principles of sound money and limited government. He has his own ‘3G network’ that is quite apart from Apple: guns, gold and gasoline.’ ”

Before Lam resigned, Erik Guenther, a criminal defense and constitutional lawyer at the Madison law firm of Hurley, Burish and Stanton, said that if the email’s writer were to participate in devising such a scheme, he could be held accountable for conspiracy to obstruct justice — “but an unsolicited and idiotic suggestion itself probably is not a crime.” Madison criminal defense lawyer Michael Short said that if Lam wrote the email, he should be investigated for a possible breach of the Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct, for “suggesting that officials in the Walker administration commit a felony,” namely, misconduct in public office. Those rules state that “conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation” amount to professional misconduct. They are the rules to which lawyers are held accountable by the Indiana lawyer discipline system.

Cooper, the Johnson County prosecutor, at first adamantly defended Lam, whom he has known for most of his career. The Republican said he was not considering any such investigation. “Whether there’s rules of professional conduct that apply or not is irrelevant, because he didn’t send it,” Cooper said Wednesday.“At the time, I had zero doubts that he had been hacked,” Cooper said Thursday, after the resignation.

Michele Holtkamp of the Daily Journal in Franklin, Ind., contributed to this report. The nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism (www.WisconsinWatch.org) collaborates with Wisconsin Public Television, Wisconsin Public Radio and the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication and other news media. Kate Golden is at kgolden@wisconsinwatch.org.
All works created, published, posted or disseminated by the Center do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of UW-Madison or any of its affiliates.


Many U.S. Blacks Moving to South, Reversing Trend - NYTimes.com

Many U.S. Blacks Moving to South, Reversing Trend - NYTimes.com

By SABRINA TAVERNISE and ROBERT GEBELOFF
WASHINGTON — The percentage of the nation’s black population living in the South has hit its highest point in half a century, according to census data released Thursday, as younger and more educated black residents move out of declining cities in the Northeast and Midwest in search of better opportunities.

The share of black population growth that has occurred in the South over the past decade — the highest since 1910, before the Great Migration of blacks to the North — has upended some long-held assumptions.

Both Michigan and Illinois, whose cities have rich black cultural traditions, showed an overall loss of blacks for the first time, said William Frey, the chief demographer at the Brookings Institution.

And Atlanta, for the first time, has replaced Chicago as the metro area with the largest number of African-Americans after New York. About 17 percent of blacks who moved to the South in the past decade left New York State, far more than from any other state, the census data show.

At the same time, blacks have begun leaving cities for more affluent suburbs in large numbers, much like generations of whites before them.

“The notion of the North and its cities as the promised land has been a powerful part of African-American life, culture and history, and now it all seems to be passing by,” said Clement Price, a professor of history at Rutgers-Newark. “The black urban experience has essentially lost its appeal with blacks in America.”

During the turbulent 1960s, black population growth ground to a halt in the South, and Southern states claimed less than 10 percent of the national increase then. The South has increasingly claimed a greater share of black population growth since — about half the country’s total in the 1970s, two-thirds in the 1990s and three-quarters in the decade that just ended.

The percentage of black Americans living in the South is still far lower than before the Great Migration in the earlier part of the last century, when 90 percent did. Today it is 57 percent, the highest since 1960.

“This is the decade of black flight,” said Mr. Frey. “It’s a new age for African-Americans. It’s long overdue, but it seems to be happening.”

The five counties with the largest black populations in 2000 — Cook in Illinois, Los Angeles, Wayne in Michigan, Kings in New York and Philadelphia — all lost black population in the last decade. Among the 25 counties with the biggest increase in black population, three-quarters are in the South.

The Rev. Ronald Peters, who moved last year from Pittsburgh to Atlanta, said it was refreshing to be part of a hopeful black middle class that was not weighed down by the stigmas and stereotypes of the past, as he felt it was in the urban Northeast.

“Too often, people turn on TV and all they see are black men in chains,” said Mr. Peters, president of the Interdenominational Theological Center, a seminary in Atlanta. “Atlanta is a clear example of a different type of ethos. The black community is not people who have lost their way.”

Increasingly blacks are moving to places with small black populations. Just 2 percent of the black population growth in the last decade occurred in counties that have traditionally been black population centers, while 20 percent has occurred in counties where only a tiny fraction of the population had been black.

Segregation declined during the decade. Among the nation’s 100 largest metro areas, 92 showed segregation declines with most of the largest occurring in growing areas in the South and West, Mr. Frey said.

The South was the fastest growing region over all, up 14 percent from 2000. Its white population increased as well, though whites grew substantially in the West as well, something that was not the case for blacks. Growth of Asian and Hispanic populations — which grew the fastest over all — was widely distributed throughout the nation.

“The center of population has moved south in the most extreme way we’ve ever seen in history,” said Robert Groves, director of the Census Bureau.

Northern blacks were a big part of Southern gains. There are now more than one million black residents of the South who were born in the Northeast, a tenfold increase since 1970.

Blacks who moved to the South were disproportionately young — 40 percent were adults ages 21 to 40, compared with 29 percent of the nonmigrant black population. One in four newcomers had a four-year college degree, compared to one in six of the black adults who had already lived in the South.

Cicely Bland, 36, a publishing company owner who left her home in Jersey City in 2006 for Stockbridge, an Atlanta suburb, said life was better because it was more affordable. Her choice was as much about cultural affinity as it was job opportunities.

“The business and political opportunities are here,” she said. “You have a lot of African-Americans with a lot of influence, and they’re in my immediate networks.”

Over all, the black population grew by 11 percent in large metropolitan counties, but by 15 percent in adjacent smaller counties in the metropolitan area, suggesting a strong movement of blacks to the suburbs. The top 10 fastest-growing areas were suburbs, census officials said.

Not everyone was well off. Katherine Curtis, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who specializes in demography and inequality, said blacks who returned to the states where they were born tended to have a higher poverty rate than those who went to other Southern states. One reason could be that they moved back for family, not economic opportunity, she said.

The black population grew by 11 percent over the decade, faster than the 1 percent growth in the white population, but far behind the 43 percent growth in the Hispanic population, whose increase made up more than half of all population growth in the decade.

But there were declines among blacks under 18, down 2 percent for the decade. The population of white children was down 10 percent, with 46 states experiencing declines in the white youth population, Mr. Frey said. Children from minority groups are now about 46 percent of the total population under 18, compared with 53 percent for whites.

In Atlanta, Mr. Peters, who grew up in New Orleans, viewed the changes as a source of pride for Americans, saying the South had changed a lot in his lifetime.

“One of the things that I grew up with was looking forward to the day that there would be a New South,” he said. “This is it. The New South represents a more inclusive community, what we can become as a country.”

Sabrina Tavernise reported from Washington, and Robert Gebeloff from New York. Robbie Brown contributed reporting from Atlanta.

This is an example of leadership on the nuclear power issue. Like father like son, Andrew Cuomo shows how it should be done!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Action Against Libya Leaves Question of Intent Unanswered - NYTimes.com

The leader de facto of Libya, Muammar al-Gaddafi.Image via WikipediaAction Against Libya Leaves Question of Intent Unanswered - NYTimes.com

By HELENE COOPER and DAVID E. SANGER
WASHINGTON — All the deliberations over what military action to take against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya have failed to answer the most fundamental question: Is it merely to protect the Libyan population from the government, or is it intended to fulfill President Obama’s objective declared two weeks ago that Colonel Qaddafi “must leave”?

“We are not going after Qaddafi,” Vice Adm. William E. Gortney said at the Pentagon on Sunday afternoon, even as reports from Tripoli described a loud explosion and billowing smoke at the Qaddafi compound, suggesting that military units or a command post there might have been a target.

That was a vivid sign that whatever their declared intentions, the military strikes by Britain, France and the United States that began on Saturday may threaten the government itself.

But there is also the risk that Colonel Qaddafi may not be dislodged by air power alone. That leaves the question of whether the United States and its allies are committing enough resources to win the fight. The delay in starting the onslaught complicated the path toward its end. It took 22 days from the time that Colonel Qaddafi’s forces first opened fire on protesters in Libya for the United Nations-backed military assault to begin. By the time American cruise missiles reached Libyan targets on Saturday, Colonel Qaddafi’s troops, reinforced by mercenaries, had pushed Libyan rebels from the edge of Tripoli in western Libya all the way back to Benghazi in the east, and were on the verge of overtaking that last rebel stronghold.

But the strike, when it came, landed hard, turning the government force outside Benghazi into wreckage and encouraging the rebels to regroup.

“I hope it’s not too late,” Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, said on the CNN program “State of the Union” Sunday. “Obviously, if we had taken this step a couple of weeks ago, a no-fly zone would probably have been enough,” he said. “Now a no-fly zone is not enough. There needs to be other efforts made.”

Experts on the region, and even a few administration officials, acknowledge that the job of getting Colonel Qaddafi to step down might have been easier if the international assault had begun when rebels seemed to have held the upper hand, rather than when the anti-Qaddafi rebellion was compressed into Benghazi and its environs.

For Mr. Obama, who has explicitly said that Colonel Qaddafi has lost any right to govern, the conundrum is that the United Nations mandate does not authorize his removal. So Mr. Obama now says the goal is limited: to use force to protect the Libyan people and allow humanitarian aid to get through.

On Sunday, Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on “Meet the Press” on NBC that regime change was not the point of the military assault. “Certainly the goals of this campaign right now, again, are limited, and it isn’t about seeing him go,” Admiral Mullen said, referring to Colonel Qaddafi. “It’s about supporting the United Nations resolution, which talked to limiting or eliminating his ability to kill his own people as well as support the humanitarian effort.”

Asked if the military mission could be accomplished and Colonel Qaddafi still remain in power, Admiral Mullen replied: “That’s certainly potentially one outcome.”

At the same time, he said, the allies would like the government forces to return to their garrisons, but he said nothing about what the rebels should do under the alliance’s protective umbrella.

House Republican leaders were quick to point out on Sunday that the objective of the operation was being left unclear.

“The president is the commander in chief, but the administration has a responsibility to define for the American people, the Congress, and our troops what the mission in Libya is, better explain what America’s role is in achieving that mission, and make clear how it will be accomplished,” Speaker John A. Boehner said in a statement.

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Representative Howard P. McKeon of California, asked: “Are our goals aimed at protecting civilians in Libya, or the removal of Muammar Qaddafi from power? In either case, to what extent and for how long will military resources be utilized?”

Even some allies, including members of the Arab League, appeared to be wondering that.

Whatever the overt objectives, the damage to Colonel Qaddafi’s grip on power is already significant. The backbone of his air defense network is in ruins, his air force is effectively grounded, his ground forces in the east were pummeled, and Admiral Mullen said his logistical supply lines were about to be cut.

And while Colonel Qaddafi was not a target, Admiral Gortney said, “If he happens to be in a place, if he’s inspecting a surface-to-air missile site, and we don’t have any idea if he’s there or not, then. ...” He did not complete the sentence.

If Colonel Qaddafi manages to remain in power, that will leave the United States and the United Nations-backed mission looking like a failure, foreign policy experts from all sides of the political spectrum said. “Barack Obama told Qaddafi to go; if Qaddafi doesn’t go, America will look diminished in the eyes of the world,” said Steven Clemons, senior fellow at the New American Foundation.

Stephen J. Hadley, a former national security adviser to President George W. Bush and an architect of the 2003 Iraq invasion, said at a forum in San Francisco on Saturday that he feared the limited approach “could set us up for failure.”

“I don’t quite see what is behind the strategy in Libya,” Mr. Hadley said, speaking while a small clutch of protesters — mostly yelling chants about Iraq — were on the streets below. “We are now in a situation where we have a mismatch of what the president said we want to do as a nation, what the U.N. Security Council authorizes, and what we are actually ready to commit in resources.”

Mr. Obama, he said, “wants Qaddafi to go, but the U.N. Security Council resolution says we want to prevent a humanitarian disaster and attacks on civilians, and in terms of resources, the U.S. has been very reluctant to get involved militarily.”

Even many of Mr. Obama’s allies say that had the administration acted earlier — say 10 days earlier, before forces loyal to the Libyan leader took back so much territory — the process of ousting him would have been much easier. Senator John Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, among others, urged a quicker response.

The administration argued that its hands had been tied until the Arab League and the Security Council acted — and that it is not too late now. Supported by the coalition air strikes, administration officials say, the rebel forces will most likely have the ability to regain momentum.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Shift by Clinton Helped Push Obama to Take a Harder Line - NYTimes.com


By HELENE COOPER and STEVEN LEE MYERS
WASHINGTON — In a Paris hotel room on Monday night, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton found herself juggling the inconsistencies of American foreign policy in a turbulent Middle East. She criticized the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates for sending troops to quash protests in Bahrain even as she pressed him to send planes to intervene in Libya.

Only the day before, Mrs. Clinton — along with her boss, President Obama — was a skeptic on whether the United States should take military action in Libya. But that night, with Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces turning back the rebellion that threatened his rule, Mrs. Clinton changed course, forming an unlikely alliance with a handful of top administration aides who had been arguing for intervention.

Within hours, Mrs. Clinton and the aides had convinced Mr. Obama that the United States had to act, and the president ordered up military plans, which Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, hand-delivered to the White House the next day. On Thursday, during an hour-and-a -half meeting, Mr. Obama signed off on allowing American pilots to join Europeans and Arabs in military strikes against the Libyan government.

The president had a caveat, though. The American involvement in military action in Libya should be limited — no ground troops — and finite. “Days, not weeks,” a senior White House official recalled him saying.

The shift in the administration’s position — from strong words against Libya to action — was forced largely by the events beyond its control: the crumbling of the uprising raised the prospect that Colonel Qaddafi would remain in power to kill “many thousands,” as Mr. Obama said at the White House on Friday.

The change became possible, though, only after Mrs. Clinton joined Samantha Power, a senior aide at the National Security Council, and Susan Rice, Mr. Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations, who had been pressing the case for military action, according to senior administration officials speaking only on condition of anonymity. Ms. Power is a former journalist and human rights advocate; Ms. Rice was an Africa adviser to President Clinton when the United States failed to intervene to stop the Rwanda genocide, which Mr. Clinton has called his biggest regret.

Now, the three women were pushing for American intervention to stop a looming humanitarian catastrophe in Libya.

Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, one of the early advocates for military action in Libya, described the debate within the administration as “healthy.” He said that “the memory of Rwanda, alongside Iraq in ’91, made it clear” that the United States needed to act but needed international support.

In joining Ms. Rice and Ms. Power, Mrs. Clinton made an unusual break with Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, who, along with the national security adviser, Thomas E. Donilon, and the counterterrorism chief, John O. Brennan, had urged caution. Libya was not vital to American national security interests, the men argued, and Mr. Brennan worried that the Libyan rebels remained largely unknown to American officials, and could have ties to Al Qaeda.

The administration’s shift also became possible only after the United States won not just the support of Arab countries but their active participation in military operations against one of their own.

“Hillary and Susan Rice were key parts of this story because Hillary got the Arab buy-in and Susan worked the U.N. to get a 10-to-5 vote, which is no easy thing,” said Brian Katulis, a national security expert with the Center for American Progress, a liberal group with close ties to the administration. This “puts the United States in a much stronger position because they’ve got the international support that makes this more like the 1991 gulf war than the 2003 Iraq war.”

Ever since the democracy protests in the region began three months ago, the Obama administration has struggled to balance America’s national security interests against support for democratic principles, a struggle that has left Mr. Obama subject to criticism from all sides of the political spectrum. And by taking a case-by-case approach — quickly embracing protesters in Tunisia, eventually coming around to fully endorse their cause in Egypt, but backing the rulers in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Yemen — the administration at times has appeared inconsistent. While calling for Colonel Qaddafi’s ouster, administration officials indicated Mr. Obama was more concerned with unfolding events in Yemen, Bahrain and Egypt than with removing the Libyan leader.

There was high drama right up to the surprising Security Council vote on Thursday night, when the ambassador for South Africa, viewed as critical to getting the nine votes needed to pass the resolution, failed to show up for the final vote, causing Ms. Rice to rush from the chamber in search of him.

South Africa and Nigeria — along with Brazil and India — had all initially balked at authorizing force, but administration officials believed they had brought the Africans around. Mr. Obama had already been on the phone pressing President Jacob Zuma of South Africa to support the resolution, White House officials said. Eventually, the South African representative showed up to vote yes, as did the Nigerian representative, giving the United States one vote more than required. Brazil and India, meanwhile, joined Russia, China and Germany in abstaining.

The pivotal decision for Mr. Obama came on Tuesday though, after Mrs. Clinton had called from Paris with news that the Arab governments were willing to participate in military action. That would solve one of Mr. Gates’s concerns, that the United States not be viewed on the Arab street as going to war against another Muslim country.

Mrs. Clinton “had the proof,” one senior administration official said, “that not only was the Arab League in favor, but that the Emirates were serious about participating.”

During a meeting with Mr. Obama and his top national security aides — Ms. Rice was on video teleconference from New York; Mrs. Clinton from Paris — Ms. Rice sought to allay Mr. Gates’s concern that a no-fly zone by itself would not be enough to halt Colonel Qaddafi’s progress, recalled officials attending the meeting.

“Susan basically said that it was possible to get a tougher resolution” that would authorize a fuller range of options, including the ability to bomb Libyan government tanks on the road to Benghazi, the rebel stronghold in the east, administration official said.

“That was the turning point” for Mr. Obama, the official said. The president was scheduled to go to a dinner with military veterans that night; he told his aides to draw up military plans. And he instructed Ms. Rice to move forward with a broader resolution at the Security Council.

She already had one ready — drawn up the week before, just in case, officials said. Besides asking for an expanded military campaign, Ms. Rice loaded up the resolution with other items on the American wish list, including the authorization to use force to back an arms embargo against Libya. “We knew it would be a heavy lift to get any resolution through; our view was we might as well get as much as we could,” Ms. Rice said in a telephone interview.

On Wednesday at the Security Council, Russia put forward a competing resolution, calling for a cease-fire — well short of what the United States wanted. But the French, who had been trying to get a straight no-fly resolution through, switched to back the tougher American wording. And they “put it in blue” ink — U.N. code for calling for a vote.

“It was a brilliant tactical move,” an American official said. “They hijacked the text, which means it could be called to a vote at any time.”

On Thursday, the South Africans, Nigerians, Portuguese and Bosnians — all of them question marks — said they would support the tougher resolution.

Even after getting the Security Council endorsement, Mr. Obama made clear that the military action would be an international effort.

“The change in the region will not and cannot be imposed by the United States or any foreign power,” the president told reporters at the White House on Friday. “Ultimately, it will be driven by the people of the Arab world.”

Libyan rebels shoot down government jet fighter.


video


So does this mean war? Eugene Robinson, columnist for The Washington Post, discusses the U.S. role in the enforcement of the U.N. resolution to impose a no-fly zone over Libya.