Controversy Erupts Over Michelle Obama’s Commencement Speech at Topeka High School

michelle obama 350x231 Controversy Erupts Over Michelle Obamas Commencement Speech at Topeka High School

Controversy Erupts Over Michelle Obama’s Commencement Speech at Topeka High School

Controversy has erupted over First Lady Michelle Obama’s planned commencement speech at Topeka High School, with even an online petition being circulated to derail her appearance.

Let’s be clear, the furor isn’t simply over the Mrs. Obama visiting the school, but the fact that her appearance will significantly impact the number of seats available for the family and friends of the graduating students.

Some are also upset that the First Lady’s speech is tied to the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision on Brown v. Board of Education that banned segregation in schools. The students don’t want this to overshadow their big day.

Student Taylor Gifford, 18, started an online petition urging the district to reconsider its plans. The petition has received over 1,200 signatures. She said her initial reaction was excitement when she learned the First Lady would be appearing at Topeka High School but became concerned when rumors surfaced of limited tickets.

 

 Controversy Erupts Over Michelle Obamas Commencement Speech at Topeka High School

Edward Snowden: Vladimir Putin’s Response to Surveillance Question “Evasive”

edward snowden1 350x325 Edward Snowden:  Vladimir Putins Response to Surveillance Question Evasive

Edward Snowden: Vladimir Putin’s Response to Surveillance Question “Evasive” (Credit: Donkey Hotey)

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin proved to the whole world that fugitive NSA leaker Edward Snowden was used as a pawn during a Q&A session on Thursday. Snowden defends his question to Putin about surveillance in a Guardian op-ed piece saying, “I regret that my question could be misinterpreted, and that it enabled many to ignore the substance of the question – and Putin’s evasive response.”  So, now he views Putin’s response as evasive? Something tells me he’s wearing out his welcome in Russia.

On Thursday, I questioned Russia’s involvement in mass surveillance on live television. I asked Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, a question that cannot credibly be answered in the negative by any leader who runs a modern, intrusive surveillance program: “Does [your country] intercept, analyse or store millions of individuals’ communications?”

I went on to challenge whether, even if such a mass surveillance program were effective and technically legal, it could ever be morally justified.

The question was intended to mirror the now infamous exchange in US Senate intelligence committee hearings between senator Ron Wyden and the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, about whether the NSA collected records on millions of Americans, and to invite either an important concession or a clear evasion. (See a side-by-side comparison of Wyden’s question and mine here.)

Clapper’s lie – to the Senate and to the public – was a major motivating force behind my decision to go public, and a historic example of the importance of official accountability.

In his response, Putin denied the first part of the question and dodged on the latter. There are serious inconsistencies in his denial – and we’ll get to them soon – but it was not the president’s suspiciously narrow answer that was criticised by many pundits. It was that I had chosen to ask a question at all.

I was surprised that people who witnessed me risk my life to expose the surveillance practices of my own country could not believe that I might also criticise the surveillance policies of Russia, a country to which I have sworn no allegiance, without ulterior motive. I regret that my question could be misinterpreted, and that it enabled many to ignore the substance of the question – and Putin’s evasive response – in order to speculate, wildly and incorrectly, about my motives for asking it.

Snowden writes that Vladimir Putin must be called to account on surveillance just like Obama. Um, one problem with that — the Russians are doing him a favor by granting him asylum. You certainly can bite the hand that’s feeding you, can you? Shows how incredibly egotistical and self-absorbed Edward Snowden really is.  So much for morality.

 Edward Snowden:  Vladimir Putins Response to Surveillance Question Evasive

Shaun Nowacki’s “Boats and Hoes PAC” Shut Down After Sparking Outrage

boats wikimedia 350x233 Shaun Nowackis Boats and Hoes PAC Shut Down After Sparking Outrage

Shaun Nowacki’s “Boats and Hoes PAC” Shut Down After Sparking Outrage (Credit: Wikimedia)

Texas continues to defy political logic. The latest is a political action committee named “Boats and Hoes PAC.” That was until it sparked outrage and the “Boats and Hoes PAC” will now be just a memory. One that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

A Texas political action committee called Boats ‘N Hoes PAC will be just a memory by Thursday, according to the Republican political consultant who is the boss of the man who started it.

Houston consultant Allen Blakemore confirmed Wednesday evening that his firm’s bookkeeper, Shaun Nowacki, started the PAC, which is a reference to a song from the 2008 film Step Brothers. The committee will be dissolved on Thursday, Blakemore said.

Blakemore said Nowacki was contrite about the controversy created by the PAC’s name, which surfaced on social media Wednesday afternoon. Nowacki filed paperwork with the Texas Ethics Commission to create the PAC on April 1 and named himself treasurer. The PAC has not filed any fundraising reports since its creation two weeks ago. It is the only PAC Nowacki is listed with on the Texas Ethics Commission’s website.

Nowacki did not respond to several requests for comment Wednesday.

 Shaun Nowackis Boats and Hoes PAC Shut Down After Sparking Outrage

White GOP Rep. Ted Yoho Says Civil Rights Act May Be Unconstitutional

ted yoho 350x196 White GOP Rep. Ted Yoho Says Civil Rights Act May Be Unconstitutional

White GOP Congressman Ted Yoho Says Civil Rights Act May Be Illegal

Another white Republican is trying his hand at whitesplaining civil rights….

Florida Congressman Ted Yoho, who is “so thankful for the Constitution,” tried to give his two cents on the Civil Rights Act to Melvin Flournoy, a black constituent from Gainesville.

FLOURNOY: Do you think that any part of the Civil Rights Act of 1965 [sic], do you think any part of that is constitutional? And then if you’d discuss why. [...]

YOHO: This country grew through a lot of growing pain. We’re going through it again. As we grow as a country and prosper, we’re going to go through it again in the future. That’s why I’m so thankful for the Constitution because it allows us to do that. Is it constitutional, the Civil Rights Act? I wish I could answer that 100 percent. I know a lot of things that were passed are not constitutional, but I know it’s the law of the land.

Once again, we have a white Republican trying to tell blacks what they should believe to be true….

 White GOP Rep. Ted Yoho Says Civil Rights Act May Be Unconstitutional

President Obama: Republicans Are Restricting Voting Rights of Americans

vote here 350x214 President Obama: Republicans Are Restricting Voting Rights of Americans

President Obama: Republicans Are Restricting Voting Rights of Americans

During a speech at Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network convention, President Obama said the Republicans have been conducting a campaign to deny the voting rights of many Americans.

Mr. Obama accused Republicans of trying to rig the elections by making it harder for older people, women, minorities and the impoverished to cast ballots in swing states that could determine control of the Senate.

“The right to vote is threatened today in a way that it has not been since the Voting Rights Act became law nearly five decades ago,” Mr. Obama said in a hotel ballroom filled with cheering supporters, most of them African-American. “Across the country, Republicans have led efforts to pass laws making it harder, not easier, for people to vote.”…

“America did not stand up and did not march and did not sacrifice to gain the right to vote for themselves and for others only to see it denied to their kids and their grandchildren,” he said.

Republicans in some swing states have advanced new laws that go beyond the voter identification requirements of recent years. Among other things, state lawmakers are pushing measures to limit the time polls are open and to cut back early voting, particularly weekend balloting that makes it easier for lower-income voters to participate. Other measures would eliminate same-day registration, make it more difficult to cast provisional ballots or curb the mailing of absentee ballots.

Over the last 15 months, at least nine states have enacted voting changes making it harder to cast ballots.

Hank Aaron: Obama House GOP Critics Like KKK in “Neckties and Starched Shirts”

hank aaron 350x245 Hank Aaron: Obama House GOP Critics Like KKK in Neckties and Starched Shirts

Hank Aaron: House GOP Critics of Obama Like KKK in “Neckties and Starched Shirts”

Famed slugger Hank Aaron, speaking on the anniversary of his record-breaking home run, told USA Today that congressional Republicans are an updated version of the Ku Klux Klan.

Aaron said, “Sure, this country has a black president.” “But when you look at a black president, President Obama is left with his foot stuck in the mud from all of the Republicans with the way he’s treated…The bigger difference is that back then they had hoods. Now they have neckties and starched shirts.”

Hank Aaron added, “We are not that far removed from when I was chasing the record.” He noted that the percentage of black baseball players had declined since he played. He said,  “If you think that, you are fooling yourself. A lot of things have happened in this country, but we have so far to go. There’s not a whole lot that has changed.”

 Hank Aaron: Obama House GOP Critics Like KKK in Neckties and Starched Shirts

Melissa Anne Hixon ID’d as Woman Kissing ‘Christian Conservative’ Rep. Vance McAllister

melissa anne hixon 350x231 Melissa Anne Hixon IDd as Woman Kissing Christian Conservative Rep. Vance McAllister

Melissa Anne Hixon ID’d as Woman Kissing ‘Christian Conservative’ Rep. Vance McAllister (Credit: Facebook)

Melissa Anne Hixon Peacock has been identified as the staffer Rep. Vance McAllister (R-LA) was seen passionately kissing on a surveillance video. Her husband, Heath Peacock, said today, “I’m just freaking devastated….I loved my wife so much. The Peacocks were married for six years and have a six year old son. So much for Christian conservative family man Vance McAllister doing right by his family. He is begging for forgiveness, saying, “There’s no doubt I’ve fallen short and I’m asking for forgiveness.”

Rep. McAllister happens to be Heath Peacock’s childhood friend. Um, sounds a little like a recent episode of hit-show ‘Scandal.’

Peacock told The Ouachita Citizen:  “I’m just freaking devastated by the whole deal, man. I loved my wife so much. I cannot believe this. I cannot freaking believe it. I feel like I’m going to wake up here in a minute and this is all going to be a bad nightmare.” He added, “He has wrecked my life. We are headed for divorce.”

Peacock, 34, said he was informed of his wife’s infidelity a few hours before the scandal broke on Monday. He donated $10,000 to Vance McAllister’s campaign fund. He also said he has yet to receive a public apology from the congressman. Melissa Anne Hixon Peacock no longer works for McAllister.

Duck Dynasty-backed Vance McAllister is married with five children.

 Melissa Anne Hixon IDd as Woman Kissing Christian Conservative Rep. Vance McAllister

Equal Pay: White House Under Fire for Gender Pay Gap Among Female Staffers

white house 350x256 Equal Pay: White House Under Fire for Gender Pay Gap Among Female Staffers

White House Under Fire for Lack of Income Parity of Male and Female Staffers

The White House is catching heat for President Obama’s push for equal pay despite some findings that isn’t the case among some female White House employees. The American Enterprise Institute found that female White House staffers make a median income of $65,000 while male counterparts make $74,000. That’s 88 cents for every dollar a man makes, which is 10 cents higher than the national average. This comes as President Obama is set to sign two executive orders dealing with equal pay for women and minorities.

Jay Carney said that men and women in the same jobs at the White House earn the same salaries.

“We have two deputy chiefs of staff, one man and one woman, and they make the same salary,” Carney said. “We have 16 department heads. Over half of them are women, all of whom make the same salary as their male counterparts.”

“What I can tell you is that we have, as an institution here, have aggressively addressed this challenge, and obviously, though, at the 88 cents that you cite, that is not a hundred, but it is better than the national average,” Carney said. “And when it comes to the bottom line that women who do the same work as men have to be paid the same, there is no question that that is happening here at the White House at every level.”

The discrepancy is likely explained by concentrations of women in lower-paying jobs at the White House, and, conversely, more men holding higher-level positions. Although workers are paid the same regardless of gender — a female assistant makes the same as a male in the same position — more women hold lower-paying jobs. Source: The Hill

The fact is the numbers don’t lie. Increasingly women are sole supporters or breadwinners for their families. We need to have an economy that works for everyone, not just men. Of course, the Republican Party has no response to address the staggering differences, in some states for what women are making compared to men. Many Republicans voted against the Lily Ledbetter Act and Mitt Romney was on the offensive during the 2012 presidential campaign about the issue.

 Equal Pay: White House Under Fire for Gender Pay Gap Among Female Staffers

The Smoking Gun: MSNBC Host Rev. Al Sharpton Was a FBI Informant

al sharpton fbi informant 350x192 The Smoking Gun: MSNBC Host Rev. Al Sharpton Was a FBI Informant

The Smoking Gun: MSNBC Host Rev. Al Sharpton Was a FBI Informant (Credit: TSG)

The Smoking Gun is reporting that civil rights activist and MSNBC host Rev. Al Sharpton has been an FBI information on matters concerning the Mafia since the 1980s.

A lengthy investigation by The Smoking Gun has uncovered remarkable details about Sharpton’s past work as an informant for a joint organized crime task force comprised of FBI agents and NYPD detectives, as well as his dealings with an assortment of wiseguys.

Beginning in the mid-1980s and spanning several years, Sharpton’s cooperation was fraught with danger since the FBI’s principal targets were leaders of the Genovese crime family, the country’s largest and most feared Mafia outfit. In addition to aiding the FBI/NYPD task force, which was known as the “Genovese squad,” Sharpton’s cooperation extended to several other investigative agencies.

TSG’s account of Sharpton’s secret life as “CI-7” is based on hundreds of pages of confidential FBI affidavits, documents released by the bureau in response to Freedom of Information Act requests, court records, and extensive interviews with six members of the Genovese squad, as well as other law enforcement officials to whom the activist provided assistance…

In an interview Saturday, Sharpton again denied working as a confidential informant, claiming that his prior cooperation with FBI agents was limited to efforts to prompt investigations of drug dealing in minority communities, as well as the swindling of black artists in the recording industry. He also repeatedly denied being “flipped” by federal agents in the course of an undercover operation. When asked specifically about his recording of the Gambino crime family member, Sharpton was noncommittal: “I’m not saying yes, I’m not saying no.” Source: The Smoking Gun

 The Smoking Gun: MSNBC Host Rev. Al Sharpton Was a FBI Informant

Giant Artwork of a Child Shows Drone Operators Face of Targets in Pakistani Region

bugsplat 350x220 Giant Artwork of a Child Shows Drone Operators Face of Targets in Pakistani Region

Giant Artwork of a Child Shows Drone Operators Face of Targets in Pakistani Region

An art collective to raise awareness about civilian casualties of U.S. drone strikes, has installed a giant portrait of a child facing upward in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region of Pakistan, which is frequently hit by drone strikes.  

The portrait, entitled #NotABugSplat, when viewed by a drone camera, shows the face of a child staring back, not seen by a screen in a control room as a dot against a grainy landscape. This has led to the creation of the term “bug splat.”

The campaign was launched by Reprieve UK and The Foundation for Fundamental Rights, in conjunction with JR’s Inside Out Project-connected artists collective.

 Giant Artwork of a Child Shows Drone Operators Face of Targets in Pakistani Region