While it's probably not the tribute liberator George W. Bush expected, a sculpture inspired by the journalist who threw his shoes at the ex-President has been unveiled in Iraq. Hundreds of people gathered this past Thursday to see the giant shoe, which appropriately enough has a bush growing out of it.
The piece of art, which also includes a poem praising the journalist, is located in the gardens of a foundation for children whose parents have died as a result of the US invasion. Meanwhile, the journalist, Muntadar al-Zaidi, still sits in jail, awaiting trial and a potential 15-year sentence.
In a spirit of bipartisanship, President Obama met with Republican leaders today to listen to their concerns about the proposed $825 billion stimulus package, which will hopefully create between 3 to 4 million jobs. While Obama may listen, there's no indication that he feels obliged to implement GOP suggestions. Politico reports that during the talks Obama pointed out "I won."
Some of the Republican concerns include:
- The amount being spent on the package.
- The inclusion of tax credits for those who do not pay income taxes.
- An inadequate amount of middle class tax cuts.
Despite Obama's assertion of his political capital, GOP leaders did appear somewhat content with the course of the meetings. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said that Congress would likely meet the mid-February deadline for passing the package.
How seriously should Obama, and the Democrats, take GOP concerns?
You may have heard that Antarctica is getting cooler, but it's actually not.
The icy region is heating up, according to a study that essentially backs previous global warming research.
The analysis of satellite and weather records for Antarctica shows that freezing temperatures had risen by about 0.8 Fahrenheit since the 1950s.
The author of the study said the temperature rise is "very comparable to the global average", while global warming nay-sayers have used reports of a chilling Antarctica as proof that global warming is a myth.
Thanks to the peaceful transfer of power that happened this week, international players who have been working with President Bush for years may find their relationships with the US changing. As a result, Iraq is preparing security plans just in case President Obama decides to remove all American forces, not just combat troops, well before the 2011 deadline.
Even if it's Plan B, Iraq believes it's prepared to assume all security responsibilities. Speaking up a bit, now that President Bush is back in Texas, Iraq's government said it would be willing to have the US withdraw all troops before the designated date. The message from the Prime Minister's spokesman came yesterday before President Obama met with senior military commanders to discuss his administration's next move.
Do you think it's time for US troops to leave Iraq?
In honor of George W. Bush's last day as president of the United States, I broke into Comedy Central's archive to dig out some of Jon Stewart's coverage of the 2000 Election. OK — just kidding. I didn't break any laws. But, the network did put together highlights of Jon's early coverage of a man he came to mock often. Since today is the end, take a look back at how it all began.
A while back, President-elect (not for long) Obama called on Americans to make this year's MLK Day a National Day of Service. In an email to supporters, Michelle Obama encouraged everyone to help their communities in any way, including giving blood, cleaning up a park, volunteering at a homeless shelter, or mentoring at-risk youth.
If you haven't made a plan yet, but feel like serving tomorrow, you can find events on the website the Obama inaugural committee created for the day. You have until midnight to register for an event.
Bringing back memories of life on the campaign trail, Barack Obama emerged from his stints in Chicago, Hawaii, and Washington, to meet with factory workers in Ohio. Obama toured a wind turbine factory, and also held a townhall meeting with the workers to discuss the economy and job creation.
By heading to the Ohio factory, Obama was looking for more than a photo op. He wants Congress too pass a two-year economic stimulus plan to address the crisis. He told the workers: “We’re looking to create good jobs that pay well and won’t be shipped overseas.” As for how, yesterday the House of Representatives unveiled its $825 billion economic recovery plan, which would include $550 billion in spending and $275 for business and family tax cuts.
Considering the high unemployment rate, and news today that Circuit City's closure will cost 30,000 more jobs, let's hope Obama has some good ideas.
- Barack Obama picks up a bolt during a tour of the Cardinal Fastener & Specialty Company factory.
- Photo 2
- A worker shows Obama how he makes large bolts used for bridge construction.
- Obama greets people after addressing the gathering of workers and leaders from the wind energy industry.
- Obama holds a souvenir bolt presented to him by an employee following the tour.
- Inauguration Speech: Obama's daughter on his speech: "It better be good." —Huffington Post
- Global Warming: Changing a lightbulb isn't good enough? Find out what other countries are doing to curb their impact. — Good
- New Hero in Town: Should Obama be pissed at this Sully guy for stealing his "miracle worker" thunder. — 23/6
- President Bush: What's the right standard for judging a president? — Townhall
- BART Shooting: Ex-officer who shot and killed a passenger on New Year's Day pleads not guilty to murder, and is currently being held without bail. — SFist
This may be Barack Obama's big weekend leading up to the inauguration and all, but that hasn't stopped still-President Bush from declaring Saturday "National Sanctity of Human Life Day." In a nod to pro-life Republicans about to be exiled from power, Bush's proclamation states:
All human life is a gift from our creator that is sacred, unique and worthy of protection. On National Sanctity of Human Life Day, our country recognizes that each person, including every person waiting to be born, has a special place and purpose in this world.
The official statement goes on to outline policies under Bush that have built a "culture of life," including abstinence and adoption promotion, parental notification, and stopping federal funding of abortions overseas.
Do you find it worrisome that a presidential proclamation refers to God, or do you think it's honorable that Bush is standing up for the dignity of unborn children?
- A giant crane is set to pull out the US Airways jet that crashed into the Hudson River yesterday. Investigators will look into how the plane went down and perhaps how all 155 passengers survived.The pilot and crew are being hailed as heroes. — AP
- The Senate voted yesterday to release the second half of the $700 billion bailout to soon-to-be President Obama. It was a big political win for the incoming president. —Boston Globe
- Communities around the country, including Oakland, CA, celebrated Martin Luther King's 80th birthday yesterday. — Oakland Tribune
- Pakistan formally informed India of the actions it has taken to address the Mumbai terrorist attacks today, hoping to ease tensions. The US says that Pakistan's investigation is a promising start. — Reuters
- Bank of America will receive $20 billion of taxpayer money. The second bailout will make the government the bank's largest shareholder. — International Herald Tribune
Communities are creating their own currency as a way to encourage neighbors to buy locally. The trick: you can only use the money at local stores, thus you're encouraged to buy from them. Think of it like a gift card — if you already have a Starbucks card, you probably won't head to Dunkin' Donuts. The program helps the environment, while also keeping neighbors employed.
The AP reports that local currency becomes especially popular during recessions as a way to promote the local economy. While the constitution forbids states from printing local money, the Supreme Court has held that private groups can create their own currencies so long as it doesn't compete with the federal dollar. Does this sound like a money idea to you?
While Hillary Clinton's confirmation hearing seems like little more than a technicality, some argue that the Senate should use its power to prevent the wife of the ex-President from becoming Secretary of State.
Yesterday, commentator Christopher Hitchens provided an argument for taking a second look at Hillary as top diplomat. Not buying Bill Clinton's statements that he plans to stay in the shadows, Hitchens wrote:
Picture, if you will, Hillary Clinton facing a foreign-policy conundrum. With whom will she discuss it first and most intently: with her president or her husband? (I did tell you that this wouldn't be difficult.) Here's another one: Will she be swayed in her foreign-policy decisions by electoral considerations focusing on the year 2012, and, if so, will she be swayed by President Barack Obama's interests or her own?
Hitchens continues by pointing out that countless international oligarchs, royal families, questionable businesspeople, and special interest groups have access to Bill Clinton, and thus Hillary, thanks to their donations to his foundation. He even calls Bill the "great influence-peddler."
Are these concerns dead on, or is he just overreacting?
A dentist has sued two people for posting negative reviews on the online review site Yelp, accusing them of libel. The reviewer stated that her son felt "light headed" after a visit thanks to laughing gas, and was given fillings that contained mercury. While the dentist agrees that the fillings were mercury, she says that the parents should have read the disclosure form they signed. The dentist is now suing because she doesn't want "lies to be posted on the website" about her.
This isn't the first time someone has been sued for something they posted on the Internet. Last week another Yelp user was sued by a doctor, and a model recently sued Google for negative comments posted on a Blogger-hosted blog. Considering the often casual nature of online reviews, I can't help but think suing someone for something they posted would be like suing a person for casually telling a friend that a hairdresser gave them a bad haircut. Then again, a one-star review could really hurt a person's ability to make a living.
Under US law, websites that publish third-party reviews cannot be sued for that content. Should the law protect the reviewers, too?
Timothy Geithner, the man who wants to spend trillions of dollars in taxpayer money as the next US Treasury Secretary, forgot to pay his own taxes. No, it didn't just slip his mind one year when he was living under a rock leading up to April 15 — from 2001 to 2004 Geithner failed to pay $34,000 in taxes while working abroad for the International Monetary Fund.
Thanks to Obama's transition team's super detective work, Geithner realized his mistake and apparently paid the years-late taxes days before Obama publicly tapped him for the job. The drama doesn't stop there. The transition team also disclosed the fact that Geithner hadn't realized that in 2005 his housekeeper's legal immigration employment documentation lapsed for the last few months she worked for him. Do these spots on Geithner's record make you question Obama's choice?
News broke yesterday that President-elect Obama plans on signing an order to close Guantanamo Bay perhaps as early as his first day on the job. Well today, the Pentagon cast a potential shadow on the plan, announcing that 61 ex-Gitmo prisoners have "returned to the fight." The Pentagon's spokesperson said: "The overall known terrorist re-engagement rate has increased to 11 percent" from 7 percent.
The Pentagon's assessment previews the challenges Obama will face while trying to close the controversial prison. While some detainees present a clear danger, the US admits that others, such as 17 dissidents kept at Gitmo because they could face death back in China, should be released.
Last night on the Rachel Maddow Show an Air Force major who defends detainees in Gitmo's US military tribunals said: "Americans would expect that the military commission would focus on high-level terrorists, people responsible for 9/11 and other serious terrorist attacks against the United States. In fact the early focus of the commissions has been on child soldiers, drivers, foot soldiers."
Do you think the Pentagon's 11 percent terrorist recidivism rate for those released from Guantanamo is enough to justify the prison, or should the US close it ASAP? And, to see the clip from last night's Rachel Maddow Show, read more
Jon Stewart thinks President-elect Barack Obama has a lot to learn about holding a press conference. Compared to President Bush, Obama's style can be described as respectful, engaging, and open minded. Jon took the chance to illustrate Obama excess of politeness, by juxtaposing clips of Obama and Bush taking (or ignoring) questions from the press. My favorite part of the "President Goofus and President Gallant" segment had to be the roundup of President Bush's nicknames for the members of the press corps. Have a watch — I bet you'll laugh out loud!
- From Kenya to DC: Barack Obama's Kenyan grandmother is on her way to the inauguration, and she's bearing some unusual gifts. — Huffington Post
- English Only: Some in Nashville, TN, want English to be the only acceptable language for government officials. — Jezebel
- White House Wii: The ultimate product placement? Obama surprised daughters with a Nintendo Wii on Christmas. — geeksugar
- GOP can't survive your good health?: Conservatives think "blocking Obama's health plan is the key to the GOP's survival." — 23/6
- Oil: Investment banks might be hoarding oil offshore. — Donklephant