Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Obama and the 1%

Obama defies base, hires Wall Street lobbyist for re-election campaign

President Barack Obama’s new senior campaign adviser is a longtime Wall Street lobbyist, and has the potential to damage the president’s aspirations to appeal to the protesters currently “occupying” New York City’s Zuccotti Park.
Obama’s new adviser, Broderick Johnson, has an extensive history of lobbying for big banks and corporations, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In 2007, he lobbied for JP Morgan Chase and in 2008 Johnson lobbied for Bank of America and Fannie Mae. From 2008 through 2010, he lobbied for Comcast and in 2011 he lobbied for Microsoft.
Johnson is currently a partner at D.C.-based communications firm Collins Johnson Group, which boaststhat it excels at “providing superior strategic planning and political consulting services to multinational corporations, government entities, political campaigns and parties, elected leaders, nonprofit organizations, issue groups, investors and entrepreneurs.”
Including open houses and social events, Johnson has visited the White House 17 times since 2009, according to White House visitor logs. One of those meetings was with Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett.
In early 2009, Johnson was named partner at lobbying firm Bryan Cave LLP’s Washington, D.C. office. In that role, his responsibility was to “establish and lead the firm’s new Public Policy & Governmental Affairs Client Service Group.”
That means that during those White House visits, Johnson was a registered lobbyist.
Johnson also donated more than $150,000 of his own money Democratic candidates and causes since 2008. Public political donation records show Johnson has, since 2006, never donated to a conservative or a Republican.
Perhaps most troubling to those who normally would consider themselves Obama’s 2012 base, though, is how Johnson has lobbied on behalf of the Keystone XL pipeline. The Huffington Post previously reported that Johnson is a “former Bryan Cave LLP lobbyist registered on the Keystone XL account” and that Bryan Cave LLP earned approximately $1.08 million lobbying for TransCanada between 2009 and 2011.
Environmentalists are upset about the near-finalized pipeline proposal that would allow TransCanada to build a $7 billion, 1700-mile pipeline through the heart of the United States. If the State Department approves the proposals and the pipeline is built, it would transport crude oil from tar sands in Alberta, Canada to U.S. refineries along the Gulf of Mexico.
Liberal group Friends of the Earth, which adamantly opposes the Keystone XL pipeline, is furious with Obama’s decision to hire a former pro-pipeline lobbyist. The group is disgusted with what it considers Obama’s blatant support for crony capitalism.
“Apparently the hope and change idealism of the 2008 campaign has been replaced by cynical status quo insiderism for 2012,” Friends of the Earth spokesman Nick Berning told The Daily Caller. “It’s as though the Obama campaign were intentionally trying to alienate its base.”
The Obama re-election campaign appears to have tried to hide or downplay Johnson’s lobbying history, as the original campaign press release announcing his hire completely ignored it. Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse hasn’t returned TheDC’s request for comment on the issue, either.
Later, though, Politico reported that an anonymous Obama campaign official said Broderick “is no longer a lobbyist — he deregistered in April — and he will not discuss any matters related to his former firm’s clients with the campaign.”
The Republican National Committee, however, thinks this kind of behavior on the part of the Obama campaign is typical and to be expected from the president.
“This is just more of the same from the president that promised he would change Washington,” RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said in an email to TheDC. “While President Obama publicly attacks lobbyists and Wall Street, he’s more than happy to use their influence and cash to fuel his campaign.”
Even though it’s hiring Wall Street lobbyists, Obama’s 2012 campaign plans to channel the Occupy Wall Street movement into an attack on Republicans,according to the Washington Post. Obama has announced public support for the protesters, too. In an October 6 news conference, Obama said that the protest movement “expresses the frustrations the American people feel, that we had the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, huge collateral damage all throughout the country.”
“And yet you’re still seeing some of the same folks who acted irresponsibly trying to fight efforts to crack down on the abusive practices that got us into this in the first place,” Obama added.
It’s unclear how, if at all, Obama can account for the inconsistencies between his campaign rhetoric and his actual political actions. Hiring Johnson represents another test for Obama, if he’ll actually address concerns about the former Wall Street lobbyist’s past.
Johnson’s wife, National Public Radio host Michele Norris, also announced she plans to recuse herself from hosting the taxpayer-subsidized radio network’s All Things Considered program through the 2012 election because of an apparent conflict of interest.
Article printed from The Daily Caller: http://dailycaller.com
URL to article: http://dailycaller.com/2011/10/25/obama-defies-base-hires-wall-street-lobbyist-for-re-election-campaign/
Copyright © 2009 Daily Caller. All rights reserved.

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For a father of 94 kids, it's the more the merrier

A  Christian  


Many would consider it an achievement of Biblical proportions! With 39 wives and more than 120 children and grandchildren, all staying together, a tribal Christian cult leader in Mizoram could perhaps claim to head the world's biggest family.

Not only that, Zionnghaka Chana, 67, is still keen to expand his family by marrying a few more women.

"I can travel beyond the borders of Mizoram or even India to marry as that would help me to expand my family," a beaming Zionnghaka told IANS.

From a playground to a school and a church, the village of Baktawng resembles any other tribal village but for the fact that the community members belong to one single family of 181 members -- 39 wives, 94 children, 14 daughters-in-law and 33 grandchildren.

"We are all happy and like any other church we believe in the existence of god but the only distinctive difference is that our denomination allows us to marry more than one wife," said Nunparliana, one of Zionnghaka's sons.

The family is part of a Christian cult called Channa, named after Zionnghaka's father Challianchana who died in 1997. The cult, founded by Challianchana some time in the early 1930s, is now spread over four generations and boasts of having some 1,700 members.

Challianchana was believed to have had 50 wives, with Zionnghaka being the eldest of his many children -- there is no count available of the number of children Challianchana had.

Perched at a hilltop, the 100-room four-storeyed building they live in is as unique as the family - the youngest wife sleeps near to Zionnghaka's bedroom. There is a rotation system among the wives to share his bedroom.

Most of the community members are today known across Mizoram for their skills in carving out wooden furniture and pottery items.

The circumstances leading to the establishment of the cult are as bizarre as the traditions and practices followed by the Channa sect, whose ancestors worshipped a traditional drum called the 'Khuang', until the arrival of the Welsh missionaries.
"The Welsh missionaries banned the worship of the Khuang. Upset over this, my grandfather Challianchana and his brother severed ties and founded this sect whom we call either Channa or the Lalpa Kohhran," another community member said.
But church leaders, Presbyterian being the dominant denomination, reject the cult's claims to be Christians.

"Christianity does not allow polygamy and hence accepting the cult as Christian does not arise at all. Polygamy is very rare in Mizoram," said  a Presbyterian Synod leader in Mizoram capital Aizawl.

There are an estimated 95  Christian cults in Mizoram with diverse practices -- some of them do not allow their children to mingle with others and attend school, while some of the sect claim their members to be gods.

A predominantly Christian tribal state of just over one million people bordering Myanmar and Bangladesh, Mizoram is India's third highest literate state, next only to Kerala and Lakshwadeep. Christians account for about 88 percent of the population.

The Mizo tribal people were animists until two British Baptist missionaries William Frederick Savidge and J.H. Lorrain first landed in Mizoram some time in 1894.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Is this tea racist?

Many are starting to say that Bigelow is a racist tea company, but not because thy used to advertise on the Don Imus show. Rather, it is because they continue to use the word "plantation." What I find fascinating is that this word is considered a rather benign and slang term for a large monoculture farm outside of the United States. Language is fluid, with words changing within and among cultures.

I think we have reached or may soon reach the tipping point for this word to be used solely as a racially charged and insensitive word. It reflects greatly the amount of negative name calling and recalcitrant attitudes held by our political class. Our two party system does not lead to conducive and friendly debates on issues but relies on new and harsher name calling.

In the last few weeks Pat Buchanan used the word and so did  sports newscaster Bryant Gumbel. I have traced back the word to the usage by Hillary Clinton back in 2006  to describe the Republican congress, which naturally caused a lot of fuss. Now, I have witnessed liberals decrying the use of this word on tea calling for a boycott of Bigelow.

I am not going to argue that this is wrong. In fact, I would rather avoid the use of the word if it now has a negative connotation. What I am greatly curious about is when this change in meaning occurred. Did this occur quite recently or has this change been a slow process?

Most Americans do not know where there food comes from. They assume it comes from a grocery store and think nothing of the farms. In other countries, a plantation means a large monoculture farm of things like tea or trees. I believe some of the reason this word has a negative meaning is because the few Americans who think about where there food come from think only of farms. Some might even know about the existence of factory farms, which consume most of the food grown in this country to produce cheap meat products.

Since so few Americans are involved in the food industry, their only knowledge of plantations is that of history books. Therefore, this word conjures in many images of slavery and oppression. As Nicque Shaff puts it:

  • "Plantation" calls to mind images of shameful subjugation -- enslavement and cultural exploitation faced by mostly brown people perpetrated by those who thought they had the right. From the Antebellum American South to Colonial India, Kenya and beyond plantations have been pure hell. This product naming may be careless oversight on the part of yet another company, but it's not acceptable.

I am curious about this issue and will update this post as I find more information. If you have a perspective then please post a reply!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The 1% need their airports - Neighborhoods get in the way

200 Thousand




By Athman Amran
Over 200,000 people have been left homeless after six bulldozers flattened their houses at Kyang’ombe village off Mombasa Road in Nairobi under the supervision of armed Administration Police officers.
The Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) is said to have given the residents notice to vacate the area, to clear it and create space for aircrafts flying over before landing or taking-off from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
KAA corporate affairs manager Dominic Ngigi declined to comment claiming that the matter was now in the hands of the Nairobi Provincial Commissioner and the Nairobi Provincial Police Officer.
The evictions began at around 10pm on Friday catching the residents by surprise. Some residents managed to secure their household goods from the bulldozers’ path but a number of them had no time to remove their items, which were destroyed as the houses were being flattened.

Some residents managed to secure their household goods from the bulldozers’ path (PHOTO:MOSES OMUSULA/STANDARD)
By early Saturday morning, about 1000 houses were already destroyed as the bulldozers advanced towards more than 4000 other houses as desperate residents continued to remove their household goods away from the path of the bulldozers. More other houses beyond the scene of the current evictions have also been earmarked for demolition.
Most of the families evicted work as casual labourers in the nearby factories in Nairobi’s Industrial Area and had moved there for easy access. They could not go to work on Saturday, as they had to empty their houses and ponder where to go next.
Permanent houses with shops, mini-supermarkets, concrete apartments and other semi-permanent house build from corrugated iron sheets were not spared. More than ten schools, a number of churches, garages, bars, shops and other businesses were destroyed.
Some residents interviewed said they were given notice to vacate the area about three weeks ago, while others claimed they never saw any notice but just heard rumours of the impending evictions.
“I do not know where to go. I have lived here for the past four years,” Irene Nyaguke said adding that she and her family never received any notice to vacate.
She had two children who she said would not be able to go to school on Monday as the school they were going to was demolished.
“They came with armed police who stood by. There is nothing we can do. They have not told us where to go next or where we can get our next meal,”
Osogo James, who has lived at Kyang’ombe for the past five years, said he had also just heard rumours of the eviction.
“There was no written notice,” he said.
He was guarding his household goods together with his wife and a two-year old son and a three months old daughter, who was wailing.
“She is hungry. The children are hungry. The mother is trying to cook something,” he said as his wife lit a stove.
“We have nowhere to go. I will just continue to sit here with my family until we decide what to do next.  We just pray that it does not rain,” Osogo said.

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