What’s Up: September 14, 2012

If you want to read the entire article click on the title. Enjoy as the world turns.

· Cleverest Remark on DNC and Clinton – Yesterday, the DNC had to pretend it had a 2/3 vote to assert that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and for the inclusion of the phrase, “God-given gifts” into their national platform, because three attempts to vote couldn’t bring it. Whether it was the “God” language or the “Jerusalem” language they resisted more is hard to say. But the nays seem to have it it. And then, of course, the mob boo’ed, jeered and hissed. Later, Bill Clinton came out and did what Bill Clinton does better than almost anyone. This morning, appeared on my Facebook wall the cleverest remark about it all: “So, after they denied God three times, the cock crowed; what next?”

· Obama the demigod comes down to Earth – It began, like the Obama presidency itself, with the loftiest of hopes and the greatest of expectations. The Democratic National Convention was to have opened here Monday with a festival at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, where, convention officials said, some 100,000 people would participate in a Labor Day festival that demonstrated the party’s openness and inclusion. After a couple of nights at the Time Warner Cable Arena, the convention was to have closed with President Obama’s acceptance speech at the Bank of America Stadium, where convention officials were planning to squeeze nearly 6,000 seats onto the field to expand the stadium’s capacity beyond its usual 74,000. But the speedway event was canceled — ostensibly because of logistical problems but more likely because convention fundraising was running low. Then the Democrats canceled the stadium event in favor of the smaller arena — ostensibly because of “severe thunderstorm” concerns but more likely because they couldn’t be sure enough people would come to fill the stadium. In fact, the forecast hadn’t called for severe weather, and conditions were fine Thursday night. The change caused thousands to be turned away, and the crush of crowds at the arena led authorities at one point to lock down the building for a second straight night – leaving some delegates on the street while lobbyists enjoyed the proceedings inside. It was quite a comedown from that heady night in Denver four years ago when Obama accepted the nomination in front of about 80,000 at Invesco Field. The candidate, on a stage set resembling a Greek temple, spoke about remaking the nation and the world.

· Obama: ‘You’ll Love Me Even More’ – AUDIENCE MEMBER: “We love you, Obama!”

THE PRESIDENT: “I love you back. But let me tell you the fourth thing — you’ll love me even more. (Laughter.) “Fourth, my plan would reduce our deficit without sticking it to the middle class. Independent analysis has shown that my plan would cut deficits by $4 trillion. And I’ve already worked with the Republicans in Congress to cut a trillion dollars’ worth of spending, because those of us who care about what government can do to help people give them a ladder up. “

· Gun Sales Surge: An Obama Bounce? – The gun business is booming. The question is, why? Smith & Wesson stock Friday was zooming, thanks to a stellar earnings report. The firearms maker also boosted its outlook for the rest of the year. Because of the strong business, its backlog of orders more than doubled from the same quarter last year, the company is concentrating on boosting production and building inventory.

“We are underserving the market at this moment, we all know that, and that’s a great opportunity going forward for us,” CEO James Debney said in a conference call with analysts. And another gun maker, Sturm, Ruger & Co., also hit a milestone of sorts in terms of meeting consumer demand. It produced its one-millionth gun of the year…well ahead of last year’s pace. “It took us nearly all of 2011 to build one million firearms, but in 2012 we accomplished it on August 15th,” said Ruger President and CEO Mike Fifer in a statement. What’s driving the demand that has gun makers cranking up production? Speculation has focused on fears of a coming regulatory crackdown on gun ownership. Liberal administrations tend to be anti-gun and so, the thinking goes, an Obama re-election would set the stage for stricter gun purchasing requirements. Hence, people are buying now in anticipation of difficulty later.

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· Pelosi denies muting Obama on phone call – House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi is denying one of the juiciest stories in Bob Woodward’s new book — that she once muted President Obama during a conference call. In “The Price of Politics,” Woodward reports that Pelosi pressed the mute button on a speakerphone as Obama spoke to congressional allies about efforts to pass the 2009 stimulus. The book, which hits bookstores Tuesday, also says that Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have often been impatient with Obama (and vice-versa). Woodward writes about the 2009 conference call: “Warming to his subject, he (Obama) continued with an uplifting speech. Pelosi reached over and pressed the mute button. They could hear Obama, but now he couldn’t hear them. The president continued speaking, his disembodied voice filling the room, and the two leaders got back to the hard numbers.”

· Ohio Dem accuses Jewish Republican of being “candidate of the big lie” – Senator Sherrod Brown’s campaign issued a new attack ad Friday against his rival, Republican Josh Mandel. In it, the Ohio Democrat accuses Mandel of using the “big lie” strategy in his campaign. The term “big lie” was coined by Adolf Hitler and is commonly associated with Nazi propaganda. Mandel is Jewish. The ad states: “Josh Mandel: He has become the candidate of the big lie.” It cites a Columbus Dispatch columnist as the source for the quote. It argues that Mandel has made numerous false statements about his career as state treasurer, among other distortions. Brown’s ad does not specifically mention Nazis, but the term “big lie” is still closely identified with them. Earlier this week, John Burton, chairman of the California delegation to the Democrats’ Charlotte convention, was criticized when he compared Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan to the Nazis and referenced the “big lie.”

· White House draft cyber order promotes voluntary critical infrastructure protections – The White House so far has failed to get a bill passed by both houses of Congress to improve the cybersecurity of the nation’s critical infrastructure, so they want to take an alternative approach. The administration has created a draft executive order detailing how, within its authority, it would improve the information assurance of the nation’s critical infrastructure, such as the power grid and financial industries. The draft EO includes eight sections, including the requirement to develop a way for industry to submit threat and vulnerability data to the government. The draft EO, which Federal News Radio viewed a draft copy of, closely follows the second version of comprehensive cyber legislation introduced by Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) in July. The draft order gives agencies several deadlines to meet, either by writing reports or creating and implementing frameworks. For instance, 90 days after the EO is signed by President Barack Obama, the cybersecurity council — led by the Homeland Security Department secretary — must develop a report to determine which agencies should regulate which parts of the critical infrastructure. The creation of the council is in section 2 of the draft EO. Under earlier cyber bills, DHS would take the lead in regulation and that concerned some lawmakers and experts. It was a major sticking point in moving forward with a vote on a comprehensive bill. “An executive order is one of a number of measures we’re considering as we look to implement the President’s direction to do absolutely everything we can to better protect our nation against today’s cyber threats,” said a National Security Council spokeswoman in an email statement. “We are not going to comment on ongoing internal deliberations.”

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· Chicago teachers strike for first time in 25 years – Striking teachers marched across the city on Monday as some parents chafed at the disruption and school officials scrambled to find places for displaced students to spend their day. About 26,000 teachers and support staff went on strike — the Chicago’s first since 1987 — after contract talks broke down late Sunday. The key issues: salaries and benefits, job security and teacher evaluation systems. Talks resumed Monday. “I do believe that we are down to the last few issues,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Monday at Maranatha Church, which is offering activities to students. “This is, in my view, a strike of choice, and it’s the wrong choice for our children.” The remaining issues, he said, are teacher evaluations and job security. “Stay at the table, finish it for our children,” he said. Emily Lee, 31, a mother of two public school students, had a message for striking teachers: “Get back to work. The city is broke, children are getting murdered in the streets and education is the answer.”

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· Gallup, Rasmussen: Obama up by 5 points – A pair of daily tracking polls Monday give President Obama 5-point advantages over Mitt Romney, maintaining leads in the wake of last week’s Democratic convention. Gallup has Obama up 49%-44%. The Rasmussen daily tracking poll puts Obama ahead, 50%-45%.

· Bike-lane Cultural Revolution pokes along in some cities – Portland, Ore., can seem like paradise to bikers in other parts of the country with less well-developed cycling infrastructure. Though American cities are slowly making way for bicycles, the battle in many areas is hard-fought on both sides. Many drivers feel bikes take precious space on already bursting streets. Cyclists say they are subject to abuse and even attack when they claim their equal right to the roads. Andrea Trabelsi, 29, of Newark, Del., commutes by bicycle a few times a month to her job north of Wilmington, Del. It takes her about an hour to ride 10 miles, mostly on congested roads. She doesn’t recommend it to the faint of heart. “There are some jerks out there that will get right up behind you and show their annoyance at you,” Trabelsi says. It’s an attitude Matt Holloway, 43, owner of Henry’s Bicycle Shop near Newark, Del., is familiar with. “Some people don’t think bikes should be on the roads, they should be on the sidewalks,” Holloway says. “They need to educate our younger drivers.”

· FBI’s Sinister New $1 Billion Project Will Track Everyone By Their Face – How would you feel if the government could easily track your movements by automatically identifying your face on images captured by the ever-growing network of CCTV of cameras in America? The FBI is will be able to do just that soon, with its one-billion-dollar Next Generation Identification program. The FBI has been pursuing their new people identification project for years now, working with both Lockheed Martin Transportation and Security Solutions and IBM. The Bureau argues that the project’s goal “is to reduce terrorist and criminal activities by improving and expanding biometric identification and criminal history information services through research, evaluation, and implementation of advanced technology.” That’s all good in my book, although I have my doubts about its actual efficacy for new criminals. But, while modernizing the networking between local, state and federal agencies to speed up the identification of criminals through new fingerprint analysis and databases is great, there are other biometric parameters that may be easily abused. Chief among them: facial identification. With this system, the FBI and its collaborating administrations would be able to apply facial identification to any image source. Using a much more sophisticated version of the technology found in Facebook or iPhoto, law enforcement agents would be able to quickly go through catalogs of mug shots, images of tattoos or even street photos in search of specific individuals. And of course, that includes an expansive network of CCTV cameras that dot landscapes and street corners across the country.

· Soft on Wall Street, Dems weak on corporate crime – Among the many falsehoods pushed at last week’s Democratic Convention is that this is the party of the people, unafraid to hold Corporate America responsible for its many ills. Judging by the records of the last two Democratic administrations, just the opposite appears to be true. Certainly, President Obama and, to some extent, Bill Clinton like to talk a good game in terms of class warfare, but under both men, real corporate crime-fighting has been at best a side issue — despite the immense amounts of white-collar fraud their administrations faced. In fact, neither Obama nor Clinton can hold a candle to the corporate crime-fighting record of George W. Bush, that supposed lapdog for large corporate interests. Consider: As we near the four-year anniversary of the financial crisis, not a single Wall Street fat cat has been charged with violations of securities laws in connection with the 2008 collapse. Then we have the outlandish case of MF Global, the brokerage firm run into the ground nearly a year ago by Obama’s pal and campaign-cash bundler, Jon Corzine. It isn’t just that the former Goldman Sachs CEO and New Jersey governor took outsized trading risks that destroyed the firm; his firm appears to have misused and lost $1.6 billion in customer funds in the process. Under securities laws, those customer funds were supposed to be kept sacrosanct — yet not a single MF Global employee, much less Corzine, has been charged in the matter by the Obama Justice Department or the Securities and Exchange Commission. For obvious reasons, Clinton’s putrid record on corporate crime went unmentioned as he rewrote history during his speech.

· Brad Pitt: Why my mother is wrong about Barack Obama and gay marriage – Brad Pitt’s mother, Jane, threw her support behind Mitt Romney earlier this year, criticizing Barack Obama for his liberal views on same-sex marriage. However, the Hollywood star tells Mandrake that the American president retains his vote. “I am an Obama supporter and I’m backing his election campaign,” Pitt says at a screening of his forthcoming film Killing Them Softly, at the Mayfair Hotel in London. “Gay marriage is inevitable. The next generation, they get it. It is just a matter of time before it becomes a reality.” Jane Pitt called on Christian voters to accept the Republican Romney, who is a Mormon. She said she would be happy to vote for a “family man with high morals” who shares “Christian conviction” on homosexuality over the likes of Obama. The star of Ocean’s Eleven said in 2006 said that he would not marry Angelina Jolie until America allowed same-sex unions. Pitt and Jolie announced their engagement in April. The following month, Obama declared his support for homosexual marriage.

· Inside story of Obama’s struggle to keep Congress from controlling outcome of debt ceiling crisis – President Obama summoned the top four congressional leaders to the White House on Saturday morning, July 23, 2011. The night before, House Speaker John A. Boehner had withdrawn from negotiations to raise the $14 trillion federal debt limit and save the government from a catastrophic default. “Nobody wanted to be there,” Boehner later recalled. “The president’s still pissed.” They had about 10 days left before the government would run out of money. Given the global importance of U.S. Treasury securities, failing to extend the debt limit could trigger a worldwide economic meltdown. Boehner said he believed that he and the others — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — had a plan. He told Obama: We think we can work this out. Give us a little more time. We’ll come back to you. We are not going to negotiate this with you. Obama objected, saying that he couldn’t be left out of the process. “I’ve got to sign this bill,” he reminded the leaders as they sat in the Cabinet Room off the Oval Office. “Mr. President,” Boehner challenged, “as I read the Constitution, the Congress writes the laws. You get to decide if you want to sign them.” Reid, the most powerful Democrat on Capitol Hill, spoke up. The congressional leaders want to speak privately, he said. Give us some time. This was it. Congress was taking over. The leaders were asking the president to leave the meeting he had called in the White House. Fine, Obama said. Talk. Knock yourselves out. There is no pride of authorship here, just do it — if you can. How did it feel, I asked the president in an interview on July 11, 2012, to be voted off the island in his own house? “I’m not concerned about protocol,” he said. His concern was “an end run around the White House.” Before the meeting, without telling Obama, the four leaders had tentatively agreed on the framework of a deal. The congressional plan guaranteed that the debt limit would have to be revisited during the 2012 presidential campaign, and Obama was insisting that any agreement would have to take the country through the election. Around 10 p.m., Obama called Boehner, who was at dinner with friends. I am not going to sign a bill that requires me to deal with the debt ceiling a second time before the election, the president told him. He was furious. Listen,” Boehner said he told Obama, “I understand it. All right? But you’re not going to have a choice. We’ve got an agreement.”

· Why is Obama skipping more than half of his daily intelligence meetings? – President Obama is touting his foreign policy experience on the campaign trail, but startling new statistics suggest that national security has not necessarily been the personal priority the president makes it out to be. It turns out that more than half the time, the commander in chief does not attend his daily intelligence meeting. The Government Accountability Institute, a new conservative investigative research organization, examined President Obama’s schedule from the day he took office until mid-June 2012, to see how often he attended his Presidential Daily Brief (PDB) — the meeting at which he is briefed on the most critical intelligence threats to the country. During his first 1,225 days in office, Obama attended his PDB just 536 times — or 43.8 percent of the time. During 2011 and the first half of 2012, his attendance became even less frequent — falling to just over 38 percent. By contrast, Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush almost never missed his daily intelligence meeting. The speaker recalled, “He was moaning and groaning and whining and demanding. threatening. . . . He was pretty desperate.” Obama again said he would veto such a bill. We’re too close to default to reopen the talks, Boehner said. Congress is going to move forward on its own.

· Panetta: Navy SEAL writer should be punished – Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is suggesting some kind of punishment for the retired Navy SEAL who wrote a book about the Osama bin Laden military operation. “I think we have to take steps to make clear to him and to the American people that we’re not going to accept this kind of behavior,” Panetta said today on CBS This Morning. Panetta said that “people who are part of that operation — who commit themselves to the promise that they will not reveal the sensitive operations and not publish anything without bringing it through the Pentagon, so that we can ensure that it doesn’t reveal sensitive information — when they fail to do that, we have got to make sure that they stand by the promise they made to this country.” Written under the pseudonym Mark Owen, the book details the nighttime raid into Pakistan that killed bin Laden in May 2011. Panetta said people do have a right to know about this operation, and that’s why “the president spoke to the American people when that operation happened. And, yes, you know, they have a right to know that there were those that put their lives on the line in order to conduct that operation.’

· Cairo protesters scale U.S. Embassy wall, remove flag

clip_image009 Egyptian demonstrators climbed the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo today and pulled down the American flag to protest a film they say is insulting to the prophet Mohammad. CNN reports that U.S. security guards fired a volley of warning shots as the crowd gathered outside the embassy walls. CNN adds that the embassy had been expecting a demonstration and cleared all diplomatic personnel earlier from the facility.

· The Deafness Before the Storm – IT was perhaps the most famous presidential briefing in history. On Aug. 6, 2001, President George W. Bush received a classified review of the threats posed by Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network, Al Qaeda. That morning’s “presidential daily brief” — the top-secret document prepared by America’s intelligence agencies — featured the now-infamous heading: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” A few weeks later, on 9/11, Al Qaeda accomplished that goal. On April 10, 2004, the Bush White House declassified that daily brief — and only that daily brief — in response to pressure from the 9/11 Commission, which was investigating the events leading to the attack. Administration officials dismissed the document’s significance, saying that, despite the jaw-dropping headline, it was only an assessment of Al Qaeda’s history, not a warning of the impending attack. While some critics considered that claim absurd, a close reading of the brief showed that the argument had some validity.

· German Court Won’t Delay Bailout Fund Ruling – Germany’s Constitutional Court said on Tuesday it would not postpone its long-awaited ruling on the legality of the euro zone’s bailout fund, despite a last-minute legal challenge by a Eurosceptic lawmaker. The court said it would go ahead with Wednesday’s ruling on the legality of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) and the fiscal compact for budget discipline, whose implementation has been delayed for months by the German judges. The Constitutional Court issued a brief statement saying the ruling at 10 am on Wednesday “will go ahead as scheduled”, meaning conservative lawmaker Peter Gauweiler’s last-minute challenge would not cause further delays.

clip_image010The court in Karlsruhe did not go into the merits of his complaint, lodged at the weekend after the European Central Bank announced its plans for unlimited purchases of bonds of crisis-hit euro states to reduce their borrowing costs. He argues that Germany should not ratify the ESM until the ECB rows back on the bond-buying plan which he sees as a threat to the German budget. The constitutional court should therefore possibly postpone its decision on the fund, he said.

· Chicago Teachers Challenge Emanuel With Walkout – Chicago teachers struck today, closing classrooms for about 400,000 students and prompting Mayor Rahm Emanuel to stop raising money for President Barack Obama’s re-election so he may devote time to settling the city’s first walkout in 25 years. Months of tension erupted into open hostility last night when Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, called the work stoppage in the nation’s third-largest district. The teachers’ contract expired in June, and negotiations broke down over health benefits and job security. About 5 p.m., thousands of strike supporters gathered at school headquarters in the Loop business district waving placards and chanting; talks with the union, which represents 26,000 teachers and other workers, continued.

· Teachers Union Boss: ‘We’re Still Kilometers Apart’ – With negotiators for the Chicago Teachers Union and the Chicago Public Schools focusing almost entirely on a new teacher evaluation system on Tuesday, CTU President Karen Lewis sounded doubtful that a deal to end the ongoing teachers’ strike would be done within the next day. “We have been working hard on evaluations all day. There has not been as much movement as we would hope,” Lewis said shortly before 6 p.m. Tuesday. “There’s been – let’s put it this way, centimeters, and we’re still kilometers apart.” CTU teachers have been on strike since Monday, and have been negotiating with the Emanuel administration on a daily basis, with no deal in sight.

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· President Obama’s Campaign Trashes ‘2016: Obama’s America’ – Perhaps the president was hoping 2016: Obama’s America would come and go unnoticed like so many other political documentaries. But seven weeks after its opening, the film is still going strong, prompting Barack Obama to finally respond, which he has done through a lengthy entry at his campaign’s website that calls the movie “a deliberate distortion” of his “record and world view.” The entry at BarackObama.com quotes from several negative reviews of the film and claims Dinesh D’Souza, who stars in the film based on his book, The Roots of Obama’s Rage, has a “long history of attempting to add a veneer of intellectual respectability to fringe theories, conspiratorial fear-mongering and flat-out falsehoods.” The entry is dated Sept. 5, just ahead of the weekend in which 2016: Obama’s America became the second-highest-grossing political documentary in history, behind only Fahrenheit 9/11, and the sixth-biggest documentary of any kind. The movie has earned $26 million domestically since opening July 13.

· White House Got Some Say Over Journalist’s Obama Story – Vanity Fair writer Michael Lewis agreed to allow the White House to approve the quotations he used from President Barack Obama in his story about the president in this month’s magazine. “Like other journalists who write about Washington and presidential politics, Mr. Lewis said that he had to submit to the widespread but rarely disclosed practice of quote approval,” reports the New York Times. During a discussion at Lincoln Center on Monday night with Graydon Carter, the editor of Vanity Fair, Mr. Lewis volunteered to the audience that as a condition of cooperating with his story, the White House insisted on signing off on the quotes that would appear. Mr. Lewis said that ultimately the White House disallowed very little of what he asked to use. And he described having access to the president that was unusually unfettered. About 95 percent of what he witnessed was on the record, he said.

· MSNBC host: ‘Who’s More Dangerous, the Supreme Leader in Tehran or Netanyahu?’ – “Morning Joe” host Mike Barnicle asked Joe Klein if Ayatollah Ali Khamenei or Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is more dangerous Wednesday morning. MIKE BARNICLE: Who is the more dangerous player on the world stage right now, the supreme leader in Tehran or Bibi Netanyahu? (UNCLEAR): Don’t answer that. JOE KLEIN: It’s not Netanyahu. the supreme leader is a fascist. and he right now is causing great pain to his people in a way that Bibi Netanyahu never would. DONNY DEUTSCH: I understand the point of your question, but that was a silly question. SCARBOROUGH: That was a clown question, bro. LAWRENCE O’DONNELL: One point we know with Netanyahu, as Joe can tell you, anybody’s who’s been in the room with Netanyahu, you don’t have to be with him long to know that there’s only one way, only one way, to get along with him and that is to agree with every single word he says, which Mitt Romney apparently does.

· US ambassador to Libya killed in Benghazi attack – The U.S. ambassador to Libya and three embassy staff were killed in an attack on the Benghazi consulate and a safe house refuge, stormed by Islamist gunmen blaming America for a film they said insulted the Prophet Mohammad. Gunmen attacked and set fire to the U.S. consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi, the cradle of last year’s U.S.-backed uprising against Muammar Gaddafi’s 42-year rule. Another assault was mounted on the U.S. embassy in Cairo. U.S. President Barack Obama branded it an “outrageous attack” and ordered increased security at U.S. diplomatic posts worldwide. Violence also threatened to spread to other Muslim countries. By nightfall on Wednesday, 24 hours after the attacks in Egypt and Libya, police were firing teargas at angry demonstrators outside the U.S. embassy in Tunisia. The attacks could alter U.S. attitudes towards the wave of revolutions across the Arab world, which toppled secularist authoritarian leaders in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, bringing Islamists to power. The violence could influence a close-fought U.S. presidential election, in which Obama’s challenger Mitt Romney has accused him of not defending U.S. interests robustly enough.

· How the media turned Obama’s foreign policy bungle into a Romney gaffe – We’re still learning more details about the events leading up to and surrounding the attacks by Islamic radicals on the U.S. consulate in Libya and embassy in Egypt, but the media has already agreed on one thing: Mitt Romney is the political loser. “Unless the Romney campaign has gamed this crisis out in some manner completely invisible to the Gang of 500, his doubling down on criticism of the President for the statement coming out of Cairo is likely to be seen as one of the most craven and ill-advised tactical moves in this entire campaign,” opined Time’s Mark Halperin. That instant conventional wisdom is a pretty fortunate turn of events for Obama, given that it diverted focus from his administration’s bungled handling of the entire situation and the failure of his broader foreign policy posture. When President Obama came into his office, he vowed to repair the damage to the U.S. image abroad that was done by the Bush administration. In April 2009, less than three months into his presidency, he boasted to the Turkish government of having ordered the closure of Guantanamo Bay and prohibited the use of torture. “The United States is still working through some of our own darker periods in our history,” he went on, referring to the legacies of slavery, segregation and the treatment of Native Americans. In June, Obama delivered a speech in Cairo in which he called for “a new beginning” between the U.S. and the Muslim world. Taken together, such instances became known in conservative circles as the “apology tour.” Though fact checkers have pointed out that Obama never literally issued an apology, it’s clear that Obama was trying to make a break with the past. Especially in the Middle East, he wanted to send the signal that his approach would be more conciliatory and sensitive to Islamic values than what preceded it. Yet, on Tuesday, the breach of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo on Sept. 11 and replacement of the American flag with one resembling the flag of al Qaeda represented an example of the type of anti-American sentiment that Obama’s more conciliatory posture was meant to quell. Later, we learned that an American ambassador had been killed in an attack in Libya, along with three other diplomats.

· Egypt to take legal action in US against Prophet film makers – Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi asked the Egyptian embassy in Washington to take legal action in the United States against makers of a film attacking the Muslim Prophet Mohammad, the official state news agency said on Wednesday. Morsi had requested the mission take “all legal measures”, the MENA agency said, without giving further details on what that might involve. (Reuters)

· Libya commemorates 9/11 – When President Obama intervened in Libya last year, he claimed that “it’s in our national interest to act” to remove a tyrant who — in response to Bush’s invasion of Iraq — had just given up his weapons of mass destruction and pledged to be America’s BFF. Apparently Gadhafi neglected to also tell Obama, “I’ve got your back.” Obama said: “We must stand alongside those who believe in the same core principles that have guided us through many storms … our support for a set of universal rights, including the freedom for people to express themselves and choose their leaders; our support for the governments that are ultimately responsive to the aspirations of the people.” The Libyan mob was the equivalent of our founding fathers! (If you overlook the part about it being a murderous Islamic mob.) Meanwhile, Michael Scheuer, former head of the CIA’s Bin Laden unit, said: “The people we are fighting for in Libya, the backbone of that movement, are former mujahedeen from around the world.” We are “enabling people who may not be formally aligned with al-Qaida but who want the same things to grasp ever closer to power.”

· Humiliation and Rage in Libya – Al-Nass (The People), and other television channels of “Satellite Salafism,” broadcast news of a year old mediocre film trailer about the life of the Prophet Mohammad, made by an Israeli-Californian and championed by a Florida-based Christian pastor. Across the waters, radicals spurred each other on. The reactions in Cairo and Benghazi were swift. Crowds formed in front of the US embassy in Egypt and the US consulate in Libya, storming them, and, in Benghazi, a rocket-fired grenade – it seems – killed four US officials, including the US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens. The crowds in both Cairo and Benghazi included not only radical Islamists, but also groups such as Egypt’s Ultras, the soccer fan club that played an important role in the 2011 revolution. The media has concentrated on the presence of bearded men and black flags to paint these protests as the work of Salafis, and to point the finger at Ansar al-Shariah and other fringe groups. The black flag (the banner of the eagle) does not, of course, belong solely to al-Qaeda or even to Islamic radicalism. It has become a commonplace symbol used by those who want a more robust Islamic presence in the public sphere as well as by those who want to live under an Islamic theocracy. Both claim the flag, so its presence is not conclusive about the currents that took part in this, and other such events. It will take time to fully understand the roots of such violent acts, after careful forensic reporting on those who came to the protests. Nevertheless, some preliminary observations can be made regarding the ongoing social convulsions, at least in the Libyan case.

· White House clarifies Obama’s statement that Egypt is not an ‘ally’ – President Barack Obama didn’t intend to signal any change in the U.S.-Egypt relationship last night when he said Egypt is not an “ally,” the White House told The Cable today. In an interview with Telemundo Wednesday night, Obama said that the U.S. relationship with the new Egyptian government was a “work in progress,” and emphasized that the United States is counting on the government of Egypt to better protect the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, which was attacked by protesters on Sept. 11. “I don’t think that we would consider them an ally, but we don’t consider them an enemy,” Obama said. “They’re a new government that is trying to find its way. They were democratically elected. I think that we are going to have to see how they respond to this incident.” That comment had Egypt watchers scratching their heads, especially since technically, Egypt was designated as a Major Non-NATO Ally in 1989 when Congress first passed the law creating that status, which gives them special privileges in cooperating with the United States, especially in the security and technology arenas. White House spokesman Tommy Vietor told The Cable Thursday that the administration is not signaling a change in that status. “I think folks are reading way too much into this,” Vietor said. “‘Ally’ is a legal term of art. We don’t have a mutual defense treaty with Egypt like we do with our NATO allies. But as the president has said, Egypt is longstanding and close partner of the United States, and we have built on that foundation by supporting Egypt’s transition to democracy and working with the new government.” Vietor referred to Obama’s Wednesday phone call with Mohamed Morsy, during which Obama pressed the Egyptian president to ensure the safety and protection of U.S. personnel and facilities in Egypt. Morsy agreed to do so, according to a White House statement on the phone call. “The President said that he rejects efforts to denigrate Islam, but underscored that there is never any justification for violence against innocents and acts that endanger American personnel and facilities,” the statement said. “President Morsi expressed his condolences for the tragic loss of American life in Libya and emphasized that Egypt would honor its obligation to ensure the safety of American personnel.”

· Fed Pulls Trigger, to Buy Mortgages in Effort to Lower Rates

clip_image013 The Federal Reserve fulfilled expectations of more stimulus for the faltering economy, taking aim now at driving down mortgage rates until an improvement in unemployment that the central bank says will be a problem for several years. The Fed said it will buy $40 billion of mortgage-backed securities per month in an attempt to foster a nascent recovery in the real estate market. The purchases will be open-ended, meaning that they will continue until the Fed is satisfied that economic conditions, primarily in unemployment, improve. “There’s strong hints that they’ll do Treasury is next,” Joe LaVorgna, chief economist at Deutsche Bank Advisors, said in a phone interview from London. “They’re pulling out all the stops to try to get this economy to gain some traction and, most important, to get unemployment down.” The stock market, which had been slightly positive prior to the decision, shortly after 12:30 p.m., surged while bond yields, particularly farther out on the curve, jumped higher. Gold and other metals gained at least 1 percent across the board while the dollar slid against most global currencies. Enacting the third leg of quantitative easing, or QE3, will take the Fed’s money creation past the $3 trillion level since it began the process in 2008.

· Man behind anti-Islam film reportedly is Egyptian-born ex-con – Federal authorities have concluded that a 55-year-old Egypt-born Coptic Christian man living in the Los Angeles area was the key figure behind the anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims,” blamed for sparking riots and protests in the Middle East, the Associated Press reported Thursday, quoting an unidentified U.S. law enforcement official. Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who the AP said is on probation after being convicted of financial crimes, also was twice sentenced to jail after being found guilty of intent to manufacture methamphetamine in the late 1990s, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office told NBC News. Court records show that Nakoula also was convicted on federal fraud charges in Los Angeles in 2010. As part of the conditions of his probation, Nakoula was barred from using “any online service at any location” without the prior approval of his probation officer, according to a copy of court records in the case. Federal law enforcement officials are investigating whether Nakoula violated his probation on federal fraud charges in his efforts to promote the movie, an official has confirmed to NBC News.

· Jimmy Carter Corrects Obama – President Carter spoke to Drake University in Des Moines and was asked if he agrees with what Obama said about Egypt: Carter: “Egypt is an ally of the US, we know Egypt well.” President Obama had earlier stated during an interview: Obama: ‘You know, I don’t think that we would consider them an ally, but we do not consider them an enemy.‘ Carter went on to talk about Egypt’s new President, Carter says he knows him well and has met with him. Carter said Egypt’s president is dedicated to peace and truly a democratic government.

· Social Security and Disability Payments Hit Annual Records—With Month Left in FY – By the end of August, according to data released Thursday by the U.S. Treasury, the federal government had already paid out record annual amounts in both Social Security and disability benefits during fiscal 2012—even though there was still a month left in the year. In fiscal 2011–which ended on Sept. 30, 2011—the federal government paid a total of $591.492 billion in benefits from the Old Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund, according to the Monthly Treasury Statement (MTS) for September 2011. Through just the end of August of this year, according to the MTS, the federal government had paid $594.643 in benefits from the Old Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund. That means the government had paid $3.151 billion more in Social Security benefits in just the first eleven months of this fiscal year than it paid in all of fiscal 2011. The $591.492 billion in Social Security benefits the government paid out last year was, up until then, the most the most the government had ever been paid in Social Security benefits in any fiscal year since the Social Security program started paying benefits in 1940.

· ‘Whose Democratic Party?’ – A new advertisement scheduled to run in Florida makes the case that President Obama has pushed the Democratic Party to embrace anti-Israel policies, according to a copy of the ad obtained by the Free Beacon. In the coming days, the Emergency Committee for Israel, a pro-Israel advocacy organization, will release an ad entitled, “Whose Democratic Party?” The spot, which will air during Sunday’s football game between the Miami Dolphins and the Oakland Raiders in what is being described as a “significant ad buy,” accuses Obama of leading his party to weaken the U.S.-Israel alliance. Coming on the heels of the Democrat’s controversial omission and contentious reinsertion of language in the party platform declaring Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the ECI ad asks voters: “Is this still your Democratic Party?” Following footage of DNC delegates vociferously booing the pro-Israel declaration, the ad reminds viewers in the critical swing state that the Obama administration has on multiple occasions refused to state that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. ECI Executive Director Noah Pollak told the Free Beacon that ECI wants Democratic voters to ask themselves if they are comfortable with the party’s direction under Obama.

· Revealed: inside story of US envoy’s assassination – The killings of the US ambassador to Libya and three of his staff were likely to have been the result of a serious and continuing security breach, The Independent can reveal. American officials believe the attack was planned, but Chris Stevens had been back in the country only a short while and the details of his visit to Benghazi, where he and his staff died, were meant to be confidential. The US administration is now facing a crisis in Libya. Sensitive documents have gone missing from the consulate in Benghazi and the supposedly secret location of the “safe house” in the city, where the staff had retreated, came under sustained mortar attack. Other such refuges across the country are no longer deemed “safe”. Some of the missing papers from the consulate are said to list names of Libyans who are working with Americans, putting them potentially at risk from extremist groups, while some of the other documents are said to relate to oil contracts. According to senior diplomatic sources, the US State Department had credible information 48 hours before mobs charged the consulate in Benghazi, and the embassy in Cairo, that American missions may be targeted, but no warnings were given for diplomats to go on high alert and “lockdown”, under which movement is severely restricted. Mr. Stevens had been on a visit to Germany, Austria and Sweden and had just returned to Libya when the Benghazi trip took place with the US embassy’s security staff deciding that the trip could be undertaken safely. Eight Americans, some from the military, were wounded in the attack which claimed the lives of Mr. Stevens, Sean Smith, an information officer, and two US Marines. All staff from Benghazi have now been moved to the capital, Tripoli, and those whose work is deemed to be non-essential may be flown out of Libya.

· Teamsters leader compares GOP to Cambodian dictator – Teamsters President James Hoffa on Thursday compared the Republican Party to genocidal Cambodian leader Pol Pot and likened the tea party to the John Birch Society. In remarks before the National Press Club, the fiery Detroit-born leader in his fourth term of running the 1.4-million member union also said the future of organized labor is at stake. He said the GOP at its national convention in Tampa, Fla., two weeks ago didn’t talk about “what they really believe in” or highlight former leaders like President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. “The Republicans are rewriting history,” Hoffa said, saying the party is ignoring Bush’s eight years in office. “There is no eight years. There was no recession. There were no wars. Nothing ever happened during those eight years.” The GOP wants to suggest “history began” with President Barack Obama and ignores all of the problems before 2009. “We’re starting from Day One. It’s like Pol Pot — basically starts the Day One, the new calendars.” Pol Pot led the Khmer Rouge which was responsible for the deaths of about 2 million people in Cambodia. Hoffa said the GOP has become “the far, far right.”

· Why You’re a Lot Poorer Than You Thought You Were – You’re a lot poorer than you thought you were. According to a report by Sentier Research “real median annual household income… has fallen by 4.8 percent since the ‘economic recovery’ began in June 2009.” That’s worse than the 2.6 percent decline that took place during the recession itself. (between July 2007 to June 2009) All told–from the beginning of the slump in 2007 until today–median household income has dropped an eye watering 7.2 percent. (“Changes in Household Income During the Economic Recovery: June 2009 to June 2012″, Sentier Research) Like I said, you’re a lot poorer than you thought you were. The Sentier Research report comes on the heels of a similar report from the Fed which was released in June showing that middle class families saw a nearly 40 percent decline in their net worth between the years 2007 to 2010. The Fed’s 80-page tri-annual Survey of Consumer Finances, points to the Great Recession as the putative cause of the overall decline in wealth, but the Fed’s lopsided policies could be as easily blamed. Low interest rates, lax lending standards and outright fraud generated asset-price bubbles that wiped out 2 decades of economic gains for working people in the US.

· How Mitt Dodged the Draft – May 1966. Mitt Romney is just finishing his first—and only—year at Stanford. I’m a 32-year-old ex-Strategic Air Command navigator and intelligence officer, now an associate professor in Stanford’s English Department and something of an anti-Vietnam War activist. About a quarter of a million young American men are already being abducted each year to fight the rapidly-escalating Vietnam War. Many college students, however, are protected by their 2S student deferments, which blatantly discriminate against all those millions of other young men unable to afford college. As if this privileging of the relatively privileged were not sufficient, an outcry about “inequity” arises from administrations of some elite universities. Since the 2S deferment is contingent on relatively high class rank (meaning, of course, academic class rank), they argue that this unfairly discriminates against some of the “best” students, i. e., all those attending schools like Stanford. A man in the bottom quarter at an elite university might end up being drafted, even though he might be more “intelligent” than a man in the top quarter of some state college. To address such claims of injustice, the Selective Service was rolling out that month the College Qualification Test, a.k.a. the Selective Service Examination, an “objective” assessment of each test taker’s verbal and mathematical skills, to be used by local draft boards, together with college grades and class rank, to determine who was entitled to that precious 2S deferment and who should be shipped off to Vietnam. But this deferment test actually spotlighted the true inequities of the draft. It also offered an opportunity for direct action against the war itself, right on the college campus.

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· State Department sets up 24-hour monitoring team for embassy crisis – The State Department has gone into full-blown crisis mode, organizing a round-the-clock effort to coordinate the U.S. government’s response to the expanding attacks on U.S. embassies in the Middle East and North Africa. “The State Department has stood up a 24-hr. monitoring team to insure appropriate coordination of information and our response. In addition, our consular team is working with missions around the world to protect American citizens and issue appropriate public warden information,” a senior State Department official told reporters Friday afternoon. “We have been monitoring events in the Middle East and North Africa intensively today, and working with our personnel and missions overseas and host governments to strengthen security in all locations and to respond effectively where protests have turned violent,” the official said. The official noted that U.S. embassies in Libya and Yemen have been reinforced with Marine FAST teams and noted that other unspecified measures are being taken to strengthen embassy security around the region. The State Department is working with the governments in Tunisia and Sudan to increase security at the U.S. embassies there as well, the official said. The U.S. Embassy in Tunis was breached by rioters who replaced the American flag with the black banner of al Qaeda. According to Tunisian state television, at least three Tunisians died when security forces open fire in an effort to disperse the crowd; another rioter was killed in Sudan, Reuters reported. “The secretary, other department principals, and our ambassadors and charges in the field have been in constant contact with regional leaders, and we appreciate the many public statements that leaders have made in recent days condemning the attack in Benghazi, denouncing violence and calling for calm,” the official said. The White House said in a memorandum to Congress Friday that the Marine FAST teams will be there are long as they are needed but will be limited to the mission of protecting U.S. assets and personnel. “Although these security forces are equipped for combat, these movements have been undertaken solely for the purpose of protecting American citizens and property. These security forces will remain in Libya and in Yemen until the security situation becomes such that they are no longer needed,” the White House memorandum stated.

· Mob Gathers Outside U.S. Embassy in London – Photos and video from the Twitter feed of Phil Han, a reporter and producer in CNN, who is outside the U.S. embassy in London where a mob has gathered and burned the American flag:

· Stephanie Cutter Uses Communist Propaganda Outlet to Hit Romney (Updated: DNC Too) – Must read:China’s Xinhua slams Romney for making his money off Chinese companies before running for pres. China’s Xinhua is the state’s Communist propaganda outlet. “Xinhua is subordinate to the State Council and reports to the Communist Party of China’s Propaganda and Public Information Departments,” according to Wikipedia.

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