Obama issues statement on ‘Juneteenth’ observance

Today, June 19th is a date celebrated in many states of the union.  It’s also called Emancipation Day.

I lived in Dallas, TX for a few years in the mid 90’s.  The entire concept of Juneteenth was foreign to me until I moved to Dallas.  It’s a major celebration for the African-American community in Texas and thirty-five other states.

CNN Political Ticker

President Obama issued the following statement Saturday regarding the observance of ‘Juneteenth’:

Statement by President Obama on the Observance of JuneteenthOn this day 145 years ago, the people of Galveston, Texas, received word from members of the Union Army that those slaves who remained captive were now indeed free. More than two years after President Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation, the order read by Major General Gordon Granger made plain that the relationship between “former masters and slaves” would now be one of “employer and free laborer.”

General Granger’s pronouncement was one step in our continuing effort to perfect our union and live out the ideals of our Founders. While we know it would be many years before African descendants in America achieved the full rights offered through Lincoln’s proclamation, that day in Texas, former slaves were offered the hope of embracing the American Dream as their own.

This occasion, which became known as Juneteenth, is now celebrated here in America and around the world and is a time not only to celebrate the rich heritage and many accomplishments of African Americans in our country, but also a time to reflect on the common values and ideals that we share as Americans.

Our nation is stronger because of the generations of struggles for equal rights and social justice, and our culture is richer because of the contributions of African Americans throughout our history. This is why Juneteenth, while rooted in the history of a people, can be celebrated by all Americans.

Essence Magazine

One hundred and forty five years ago today hundreds of slaves in Texas found out that they had been freed by Emancipation Proclamation signed by Abraham Lincoln two years earlier.

Two thousand union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865 to read General Order No. 3 to slaves. It read: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free…”

The subsequent celebrations became known as Juneteenth, which is still commemorated today around the nation. Several leaders have campaigned to make Juneteenth a national holiday. Thirty seven states, including Texas, have an official holiday observance of the day while Congress is pushing it to make it a National Day of Observance and Illinois Congressman Danny Davis has called for it to be taught in history lessons by schools.

Obama Lunches With Progressive Pundits: Maddow, Robinson, Collins

I wonder why  Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews  were not invited?

Huffington Post

President Obama met for lunch on Thursday with a group of predominantly progressive columnists to discuss a range of topics, chief among them the oil spill in the Gulf.

Attendees included Gail Collins of the New York Times, Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post, Rachel Maddow of MSNBC and Gerald Seib, the Washington bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal, all of whom were spotted leaving the West Wing at roughly 1:45 p.m.

The lunch lasted more than an hour, said a White House spokesman. But no further details were offered. For full disclosure, Huffington Post co-founder and editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington was invited to attend but could not make it due to a scheduling conflict.

These types of meetings happen irregularly at the White House, though it has been some time since the president sat down for a discussion with progressive pundits.


Obama calls out Republicans for serial obstructionism

Daily Kos

Enough of the political gamesmanship, start solving problems, President Barack Obama told the obstructionist Republicans in this morning’s weekly address.

FNC = RNC: Fox splices out Barton’s apology to BP CEO

Daily Kos TV caught two reports on Fox News on Thursday, June 17, the day that Rep. Joe Barton made his now-infamous apology to BP’s CEO, in which the apology was edited out.   Fox News continues to shill for the RNC/GOP. 

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O’Reilly Confronts Bachmann On Her BP “Extortion” Accusation

I’m not sure what’s going on with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly lately, but he’s on fire in terms of focusing on the “true” Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann: 

News Hounds: 

What has our media come to that Bill O’Reilly may be becoming our most frequent wingnut confronter on the airwaves? On the heels of demolishing Sarah Palin earlier in the week, our “no spin zone” guy took on Michele Bachmann last night (6/18/10) over her comments complaining that President Obama had exceeded his jurisdictional limits to “extort” BP to put up $20 billion for an oil-spill-victims fund. Bachmann has since backtracked from her previous comments. She made the unlikely excuse to O’Reilly that what she had really meant was that she was worried about who would administer the fund. And then she blamed the Democrats for making her overly suspicious. Although I would have loved to have seen O’Reilly hold her feet to the fire more about her disingenuous waffling, I can’t say O’Reilly pulled a lot of punches. 


The same is not true for Foxnews.com. They helped softpedal her comments by calling the interview, All About ‘Extortion’ or ‘Politicizing’ the Fund? and gave it the subtitle, “Michele Bachmann explains her criticism of Obama ordering BP to set up oil spill compensation fund.” 

Bachmann’s original comments were made at a Heritage Foundation lunch where she advised BP not to be “chumps” or get “fleeced” to pay for “perpetual unemployment and all the rest — they’ve got to be legitimate claims. “The other thing we have to remember is that Obama loves to make evil whatever company it is that he wants to get more power from. He makes them evil, and what we’ve got to ask ourselves is: Do we really want to be paying $9 for a gallon of gas? Because that could be the final result of this.” 

Bachmann also told CNSNews, “it seems that it’s all about extortion–and that what they want to do is create a pot of money for themselves that they can control and that’s not what the Executive is supposed to do. There is a real misreading of jurisdictional limits, and they continue to stretch those limits beyond all bounds.” 

On The Factor, O’Reilly asked, “If the executive branch, the presidency, isn’t going to force BP to pony up the money, who will? Who would?” 

“But that’s not how it came across,” O’Reilly said sharply. “How that statement came across to me was that you said, ‘Look, Obama has overstepped his power… by taking a private corporation and forcing that corporation, BP, to put $2 billion in a till.’ Now, I don’t want it to be politicized, you don’t and I don’t think anybody in this country wants that fund to be politicized. What we want is, that the money gets to the people who are suffering as quickly as possible – exactly what happened after 9/11.” 

O’Reilly added that Kenneth Feinberg, the overseer of the BP fund, had also done a fine job administering the 9/11 fund. “I don’t think this guy’s a political hack or a shill. Do you?” 

If you pause the video at the 1:56 mark, just as O’Reilly said that, you can see the “called into the principal’s office” look on Bachmann’s face that is unlike the usual grin she wears on Fox News.  (See video at the bottom of News Hounds’ article…) 

Continue reading…

Countdown: Jim DeMint’s own record (and mouth) make the case FOR Alvin Greene for Senate

Lawrence O’Donnell, sitting in for Keith Olbermann on Friday night, makes a surprisingly good argument FOR South Carolina Democratic senatorial  candidate,  Alvin Greene.

Barack Obama’s Very Good Week

Contrary to how the Right wing media portrayed the president’s week…by and large it was a very good one.

Salon – Joan Walsh

Getting BP to cough up a $20 billion escrow fund paid off politically in more ways than one. Plus: Apologize to BP!

Talk about snakebit: Peggy Noonan chose Friday to publish a column writing off President Obama off as an unlucky president, comparing him to Jimmy Carter, just when his presidency has a little spring back in its step. Its title is luscious: “A Snakebit President: Americans want leaders on whom the sun shines.”

The sun seemed to shine on Obama this week. It’s true his Tuesday night speech wasn’t his best, but that’s because it lacked the news he was able to reveal Wednesday: That BP had agreed to create a $20 billion escrow fund to compensate the victims of its Gulf oil disaster, to have it administered by the tough Kenneth Feinberg of the 9/11 fund, and also to put off paying shareholder dividends through the end of the year.

And on Thursday, Obama got relief from the harsh, unnatural media glare in the wake of the disaster, which had landed upon him in the absence of any other visible hero or villain in the mess, when Tony Hayward testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Hayward’s constant insistence that he either didn’t know or couldn’t recall … virtually anything he was asked, finally made clear there is one leader whose lack of preparedness can be blamed for the crisis, and his name is Tony Hayward.

BP announced Friday that Hayward would be replaced as the man in charge of the spill response, though he’ll remain as CEO.

Of course, things got even better for Obama when Rep. Joe Barton apologized to Hayward on Thursday, calling the escrow fund not only a “shakedown” but a “tragedy.” Barton was then forced by a panicky GOP leadership to apologize for his apology, but the damage was done. Besides, from Barton to Michele Bachmann to the Republican Study Group to Rush Limbaugh, most of the party was ready to try out the shakedown, “share the wealth” criticism – until Barton went too far. Even today, Kentucky GOP Senate nominee Rand Paul left his bunker to express sympathy for Barton, and for BP, too (remember, before he entered the witness-protection program, one of Paul’s last utterances was to call Obama ‘s criticism of BP “un-American.”)

Friday the GOP began trying out a new message. They’ve gone from calling Obama a Chicago thug who shakes down business to a guy who had nothing at all to do with BP’s generous concession, but is now trying to claim credit for it. That was fast, even for Republican liars. Obama could still falter in his handling of the BP disaster, because the disaster is going to be with us for a very long time. But the president has mostly quieted critics who weren’t sure he was doing enough on that front, for now.

Oh, and if you haven’t seen it yet, check out You Should Totally Apologize to BP, and leave your own regrets (h/t Greg Mitchell.)

World’s Mining Companies Covet Afghan Riches

Here is a video that gives us an idea about Afghanistan’s natural resources and mining capabilities.


The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Mining companies around the world are eager to exploit Afghanistan’s newly discovered mineral wealth, but executives of Western firms caution that war, corruption and lack of roads and other infrastructure are likely to delay exploration for years.

A few high-risk investors are sufficiently intrigued by the country’s potential to take an early look. JP Morgan, for instance, has just sent a team of mining experts to Afghanistan to examine possible projects to develop.

“Afghanistan could be one of the leading producers of copper, gold, lithium and iron ore in the world,” said Ian Hannam, a London-based banker and mining expert with JP Morgan. “I believe this has the potential to be transforming for Afghanistan.”

But executives with international mining firms said in interviews that while they believed that Afghanistan’s mineral deposits held great potential, their businesses were not planning to move into the country until the war was over and the country more stable.

“There are huge deposits there,” said David Beatty, chief executive of Rio-Novo Gold, a mining company based in Toronto. “But as chief executive, would I send a team to Kandahar? And then call a guy’s wife after he gets shot? No.”

It has long been known that Afghanistan had significant deposits of gemstones, copper and other minerals, but United States officials say they have discovered and documented major, previously unknown deposits, including copper, iron, gold and industrial metals like lithium.

A Pentagon team, working with geologists and other experts, has shared its data with the Afghan government, and is working with the Afghan Ministry of Mines to prepare information for potential investors in hopes of placing some mineral exploration rights up for auction within the next six months. On Thursday, Afghan officials said they believed that the American estimates of the value of the mineral deposits — nearly $1 trillion — were too conservative, and that they could be worth as much as $3 trillion.

The Ministry of Mines also announced that it would take the first steps toward opening the country’s reserves to international investors at a meeting next week in London. Two hundred investors from around the world have been invited to offer suggestions for how to develop the iron ore deposits at the Hajigak area of Bamian Province, according to Craig Andrews, the principal mining specialist for Afghanistan for the World Bank.

Nongovernment Western mining experts will be helping the ministry develop the bidding process, Mr. Andrews said.    Continue reading…

Stewart Calls Joe Barton A ‘Disdainful A–hole’ (VIDEO)

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more about “Jon Stewart: Barton Was Actually Read…“, posted with vodpod


Al Franken Slams Supreme Court For Dismantling Legal Protections

Al Franken has become one of the most productive and outspoken law-makers in both houses of congress.  In my opinion he is a consummate politician on the side of “we, the people” and not corporate interests.

Huffington Post

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) railed against the Supreme Court in a speech to progressive legal scholars Thursday night, declaring that “the Roberts Court has systematically dismantled the legal protections that help ordinary people find justice when wronged by the economically powerful.”

Franken in particular decried the way conservative legal scholars have changed the popular perception of what Supreme Court justices do — and what justice is.

They’ve distorted our constitutional discourse to make it sound like the Court’s rulings don’t matter to ordinary people, but only to the undeserving riff-raff at the margins of society.
So unless you want to get a late-term abortion, burn a flag in the town square, or get federal funding for your pornographic artwork, you really don’t need to worry about what the Supreme Court is up to.

The ACLU has a long and proud history of defending the First Amendment, and while I haven’t seen polling on this, I’d bet that most Americans are fairly pro-First Amendment. But, thanks to a generation of conservative activism, the ACLU is now best known as “those guys who hate Christmas.”

By defining the terms of constitutional debate such that it doesn’t involve the lives of ordinary people, conservatives have disconnected Americans from their legal system. And that leaves room for lots of shenanigans.   Continue reading…