Remembering Robert F. Kennedy – November 20, 1925 – June 6, 1968

In the minds of many, especially in the northeast and the west coast, Robert Kennedy’s candidacy was the renewal of a “dream deferred” when his brother, John F. Kennedy was struck down by an assassin’s bullet. Imagine the shock and devastation when Robert F. Kennedy was also taken by an assassin’s bullet.

We remember “Bobby Kennedy” for many different reasons.  I remember his invaluable assistance to his brother, President John F. Kennedy during the Cuban missile crisis. 

 I also remember the reception he got from thousands of people on Jamaica Avenue, in Queens, New York, when he made a campaign stop there in 1968. 

I remember the beautiful and sometimes troubled children left without their father for guidance and comfort. 

I remember that awesome smile and him always brushing away that head full of hair from his forehead.  I still remember what might have been…

Helen Thomas Dropped By Speaking Agency, Under Fire For Remarks On Middle East

Huffington Post

Under fire for controversial remarks she made (and apologized for) about the status of Jews in Israel, longtime White House scribe Helen Thomas was dropped on Sunday by her speaking agency.

“It is with a heavy heart that Nine Speakers, Inc. announces its resignation as the agent for Helen Thomas, Dean of the White House Press Corps,” read a statement from Diane Nine, president of the agency. “Ms. Thomas has had an esteemed career as a journalist, and she has been a trailblazer for women, helping others in her profession, and beyond. However, in light of recent events, Nine Speakers is no longer able to represent Ms. Thomas, nor can we condone her comments on the Middle East. Nine Speakers will continue to enthusiastically represent all of our other current and future clients.”

“We no longer represent Helen for books or lectures or anything else,” Nine added in an email to the Huffington Post.

Thomas caused a stir late this week when a video was released of her declaring that Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine” and go back to Germany and Poland. She has since apologized for the remarks, saying they did not properly reflect her position on the conflict of the Middle East. But the criticism has been scorching ever since. Late Friday night, former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer called for Thomas’ firing from Hearst news service, where she serves as a columnist.

Former Clinton adviser and consummate political “centrist” Lanny Davis released a statement on Sunday that was even more condemning, calling Thomas, among other things, an “anti-Semitic bigot.”

“[H]er statement that Jews in Israel should leave Israel and go back to Poland or Germany is an ancient and well-known anti-Semitic stereotype of the Alien Jew not belonging in the ‘land of Israel’ — one that began 2,600 years ago with the first tragic and violent diaspora of the Jews at the hands of the Romans,” Davis’ statement read, in part. “If she had asked all blacks to go back to Africa, what would the White House Correspondents Association’s position be as to whether she deserved White House press room credentials — much less a privileged honorary seat?”

Hearst has so far declined to weigh in on Thomas’ status as a columnist with its news service. But the growing sentiment within the larger media world is that she should, at the very least, have her privileged status at the White House revoked. Davis himself argued for the suspension of “all privileges in the White House press room” in addition to her nationally-syndicated column. Meanwhile, on Sunday, Time Magazine‘s Joe Klein penned a post for the website arguing that Thomas should no longer be able to sit in the front row at daily press briefings — albeit because she was an editorialist as much as for her incendiary remarks.

Thomas, who is of Lebanese descent, had been fairly upfront on her position of the Israel-Palestine crisis prior to the most recent comments surfacing. But the videotape released on Friday has placed her viewpoints in a much sharper and critical light and raised uncomfortable questions and coverage about her position within the White House press corps.

Arizona Elementary School Will Whiten The Faces Of Its Own Students On A Mural Because Some Racists Yelled At It [UPDATE]

It appears there has been a good resolution to this story.  Giving in to bigotry and racism is not the answer.

Huffington Post

UPDATE: Good news. The gutless, carbound racists lost, and the mural is being restored to its “original theme.” Jeff Lane, the principal of Miller Valley Elementary School, and Kevin Kapp, the school superintendent, showed up at a protest today to apologize for giving in to whims of mentally deranged adults, spewing racial epithets at a painting:         


I am not a racist individual, but I will tell you depicting a black guy in the middle of that mural, based upon who’s President of the United States today and based upon the history of this community, when I grew up we had four black families – who I have been very good friends with for years – to depict the biggest picture on that building as a black person, I would have to ask the question, ‘Why?’

Yes. WHY DID SOMEONE PUT A BLACK PERSON ON A PAINTING? You “have” to “ask” the “question!”

Anyway, Steve Blair lost too, and I am delighted.

[Thanks to Moses Siregar III for the video. For more, visit his YouTube channel.]


Via Ken Layne at Wonkette, this is just the worst story in the world:

An Arizona elementary school mural featuring the faces of kids who attend the school has been the subject of constant daytime drive-by racist screaming, from adults, as well as a radio talk-show campaign (by an actual city councilman, who has an AM talk-radio show) to remove the black student’s face, and now the school principal has ordered the faces of the Latino and Black students to be changed to Caucasian skin.

F’ing hell. Read the rest of the details here. And here’s Richard Lawson’s reaction, at Gawker.

What can I say about this? We are talking about a bunch of mentally deranged adults, who have terrorized an elementary school, for daring to paint a mural featuring the faces of black and Latino children — actual black and Latino children who live in Arizona. And we’re also talking about a group of adults who have decided to send a stirring message to their students and the world: when a bunch of mentally deranged adults — and we are not talking about people who are particularly threatening, this is a bunch of utterly gutless mopes, yelling racial slurs from their cars, egged on by some pinhead city councilman cowering behind a radio microphone — threaten a bunch of children, the best thing to do is to accede to their psychotic, racist “demands.”

Seriously, educators of Prescott, Arizona, when some creep demands you whiten the faces of your own students on a mural, the correct response is to say, “No, we will not be doing anything of the sort.”

This story really should be blasted, far and wide. You cable news producers need to get this story in the mix with a quickness. And let me be clear to you all: there are no “two sides to this story.” This is not something you need to have a panel discussion about. CNN, I don’t want to see you plumbing the depths of your counterintuition on your website, or lending credence to the notion that the gutless mopes in their cars, shrieking racial slurs at the images of children have an interesting point of view that we should “hear out” because of the need to be “balanced.” This is your moment to decry, condemn, and brutalize these evil people.  Blast them to hell, or go jump in the Gulf of Mexico.

Netanyahu: Activists On Board Ship Were ‘Thugs’ Who Came Prepared To Fight

Huffington Post

JERUSALEM — Israel’s prime minister claimed Sunday that the Turkish activists who battled Israeli naval commandos in a deadly clash last week prepared for the fight ahead of time, before boarding the ship in a different city from the rest of the passengers.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s charges highlight Israel’s frantic efforts to portray the activists as terrorists and counter a wave of harsh international condemnation that has left the Jewish state isolated and at odds with some of its closest allies.

Last Monday’s operation, in which nine activists were killed aboard a ship headed to the blockaded Gaza Strip, damaged Israel’s ties with Turkey – its main Muslim ally – and brought heavy pressure on Israel to lift the 3-year closure of Hamas-ruled Gaza.

Netanyahu told his Cabinet that “dozens of thugs” from “an extremist, terrorism-supporting” organization had readied themselves for the arrival of the naval commandos.

“This group boarded separately in a different city, organized separately, equipped itself separately and went on deck under different procedures,” he said. “The clear intent of this hostile group was to initiate a violent clash with (Israeli) soldiers.”

Late Sunday, Netanyahu’s office released a statement saying he discussed the international criticism with world leaders, including Vice President Joe Biden, the president of France and the premier of Canada. Netanyahu told them any country would act in self defense if it were targeted by thousands of rockets as Israel has been by Gaza militants.

Videos released by the military have shown a crowd of men attacking several naval commandos as they landed on a ship from a helicopter, beating the soldiers with clubs and other objects and hurling one soldier overboard.          Continue reading…

News Sunday makes Beck its ‘Power Player of the Week’ for giving a commencement speech on ‘respect.’By Amanda Terkel at 10:58 am Fox News Sunday makes Beck its ‘Power Player of the Week’ for giving a commencement speech on ‘respect.’

Respect?  Does Beck know anything about respect?


Think Progress

On Fox News Sunday today, host Chris Wallace made several high-profile commencement speakers his Power Players of the Week. These figures included President Obama for talking about “history,” Drew Brees on “adversity,” Curt Schilling on “impact,” Julianna Margulies on “passion,” Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA) on “excellence,” Meryl Streep on “success,” and finally, Fox News host Glenn Beck on “respect”:

BECK: Respect others, know that they are most likely afraid, just like you. In fact, the more arrogant and the more forceful they become, I have found the more afraid they really are.

Beck shouldn’t be given props for lecturing students on “respect,” since he shows very little of that quality on Fox News. He has called Arizona GOP senatorial candidate J.D. Hayworth a “fat phony,” called Obama a racist, orchestrated a vicious smear campaign against Van Jones, justified counting an African-American individual as only three-fifths of a person, made sexist jokes about Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton, and compared Madeleine Albright to a “turkey.” So is all of this just his way of showing how “afraid” he really is?

Two N.J. men arrested at JFK airport before boarding plane to join Islamist terrorist group, authorities say | –

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Two New Jersey men intent on killing American troops were arrested Saturday as they boarded flights to link up with a virulent jihadist group in Somalia, authorities said. 

The men, both North Jersey residents, were charged with conspiring to commit an act of international terrorism through a group tied to Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network, according to officials familiar with the details of the arrests. 

Mohamed Hamoud Alessa, 20, of North Bergen, and Carlos Eduardo “Omar” Almonte, 24, of Elmwood Park were apprehended at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens before they could board separate flights to Egypt, where they were to start journeys to Somalia. The men were arrested by teams of state and federal law-enforcement agents who have been investigating the pair since October 2006, according to the officials, who requested anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the operation publicly. 

Late Saturday night, the state homeland security agency confirmed a police action at the airport but gave few details. 

“Two individuals were arrested at JFK in connection with an ongoing investigation. At this time, we can provide no further details because the investigation is ongoing. The arrests do not relate to an immediate threat,” said Jose Lozano, a spokesman for the state Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness. 

U.S. Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Rebekah Carmichael issued a similar statement just after midnight, , saying “the arrests do not relate to any known immediate threat to the public or active plot against the United States.” 

About 90 minutes earlier, shortly after 10:30 p.m., FBI agents sealed off Alessa’s street in North Bergen. The local police department would say only that an investigation was in progress. FBI agents, North Bergen police and the New York Police Department descended on the home on 81st Street as neighbors looked on. According to property records, Alessa’s parents, Mahmoud and Nadia Alessa, rented the top floor of their house amid a quiet row of middle-class homes. As agents poured in, lights went on throughout the house. 

Just over 10 miles away, in Elmwood Park, over a dozen cars with agents and police arrived at Almonte’s home about 11 p.m. Neighbors emerged from their homes as the racket from the raid broke the silence of quiet Falmouth Avenue. Again, agents turned on lights throughout the house, from the basement to the attic. They also could be seen looking around the exterior with flashlights and also searched the detached garage. Neighbors of Almonte declined to comment, but a couple who appeared to be family members showed up around 11:30 and greeted the agents as if they knew them. 

The older man was escorted into the house and could be seen embracing one of the FBI agents in the kitchen.  

Continue reading…

Blog Round-Up 6-6-2010

Plum Line

* Steve Benen notes that some media figures do seem to be finally rejecting the Obama-isn’t-emotional-enough narrative.

* Eleanor Clift gets it right: The real way to reverse the “Obama’s Katrina” narrative is to seize on the spill to rally for genuine and lasting energy reform. That’s what this blog has been sayin’!

* In all seriousness, whether he’s listening to pundits or not, Obama is really striving to empathize with Gulf spill victims, saying in his weekly address:

These folks work hard. They meet their responsibilities. But now because of a manmade catastrophe — one that’s not their fault and that’s beyond their control — their lives have been thrown into turmoil. It’s brutally unfair. It’s wrong. And what I told these men and women — and what I have said since the beginning of this disaster — is that I’m going to stand with the people of the Gulf Coast until they are made whole.

* Top allies of the Obama administration gear up to spend $25 million selling the new health reform law. Cue up GOP response: If it costs that much to sell it, then what does that tell you?

* Not going away: Mark Kirk’s exaggerations get the full Nagourney treatment.

* Israeli commandos board the latest Gaza-bound aid ship without incident.

* Also in the above link: Israel may “soften” its approach to the Gaza blockade in the face of international pressure.

* And the shocker of the day: Sarah Palin just may be putting her own ambitions over her stated conservative principles.

Disturbing Job Ads: ‘Unemployed Will Not Be Considered”


 Huffington Post:

Still waiting for a response to the 300 resumés you sent out last month? Bad news: Some companies are ignoring all unemployed applicants.

In a current job posting on The People Place, a job recruiting website for the telecommunications, aerospace/defense and engineering industries, an anonymous electronics company in Angleton, Texas, advertises for a “Quality Engineer.” Qualifications for the job are the usual: computer skills, oral and written communication skills, light to moderate lifting. But red print at the bottom of the ad says, “Client will not consider/review anyone NOT currently employed regardless of the reason.”

In a nearly identical job posting for the same position on the Benchmark Electronics website, the red print is missing. But a human resources representative for the company confirmed to HuffPost that the The People Place ad accurately reflects the company’s recruitment policies.

“It’s our preference that they currently be employed,” he said. “We typically go after people that are happy where they are and then tell them about the opportunities here. We do get a lot of applications blindly from people who are currently unemployed — with the economy being what it is, we’ve had a lot of people contact us that don’t have the skill sets we want, so we try to minimize the amount of time we spent on that and try to rifle-shoot the folks we’re interested in.”

There are about 5.5 people looking for work for every job available, according to the latest data from the Labor Department.

Sony Ericsson, a global phone manufacturer that recently announced that it would be bringing 180 new jobs to the Buckhead, Ga. area, also recently posted an ad for a marketing position on The People Place. The add specified: “NO UNEMPLOYED CANDIDATES WILL BE CONSIDERED AT ALL.” When asked about the ad, a spokeswoman said, “This was a mistake, and once it was noticed it was removed.”

Ads asking the unemployed not to apply are easy to find. A Craigslist ad for assistant restaurant managers in Edgewater, N.J. specifies, “Must be currently employed.” Another job posting for a tax manager at an unnamed “top 25 CPA firm” in New York City contains the same line in all caps.

A company’s choice to ignore unemployed applicants and recycle the current workforce ignores the effect of the recession on millions of highly-qualified workers and could prolong the unemployment crisis, said Judy Conti, federal advocacy coordinator for the National Employment Law Project.

“In the current economy, where millions of people have lost their jobs through absolutely no fault of their own, I find it beyond unconscionable that any employer would not consider unemployed workers for current job openings,” she said. “Not only are these employers short-sighted in their search for the best qualified workers, but they are clearly not good corporate citizens of the communities in which they work. Increasingly, politicians and policy makers are trying to blame the unemployed for their condition, and to see this shameful propaganda trickle down to hiring decisions is truly sad and despicable.”

There is no law prohibiting discrimination against the unemployed, though advocates said the practice could be illegal if it had a “disparate impact” on minority groups.

The Law:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) prohibit the use of discriminatory employment tests and selection procedures.
  • There has been an increase in employment testing due in part to post 9-11 security concerns as well as concerns about workplace violence, safety, and liability. In addition, the large-scale adoption of online job applications has motivated employers to seek efficient ways to screen large numbers of online applicants in a non-subjective way.
  • The number of discrimination charges raising issues of employment testing, and exclusions based on criminal background checks, credit reports, and other selection procedures, reached a high point in FY 2007 at 304 charges.
  • Many employers use employment tests and other selection procedures in making employment decisions. Examples of these tools, many of which can be administered online, include the following:

    • Cognitive tests assess reasoning, memory, perceptual speed and accuracy, and skills in arithmetic and reading comprehension, as well as knowledge of a particular function or job;
    • Physical ability tests measure the physical ability to perform a particular task or the strength of specific muscle groups, as well as strength and stamina in general;
    • Sample job tasks (e.g., performance tests, simulations, work samples, and realistic job previews) assess performance and aptitude on particular tasks;
    • Medical inquiries and physical examinations, including psychological tests, assess physical or mental health;
    • Personality tests and integrity tests assess the degree to which a person has certain traits or dispositions (e.g., dependability, cooperativeness, safety) or aim to predict the likelihood that a person will engage in certain conduct (e.g., theft, absenteeism);
    • Criminal background checks provide information on arrest and conviction history;
    • Credit checks provide information on credit and financial history;
    • Performance appraisals reflect a supervisor’s assessment of an individual’s performance; and
    • English proficiency tests determine English fluency.