Sep 282010
 
SEIU

WASHINGTON — The FBI and the U.S. Labor Department are investigating prominent labor leader Andy Stern in their probe of corruption at the Service Employees International Union, according to two people who have been interviewed by federal agents.

The two organized labor officials met with federal agents this summer to answer questions about a six-figure book contract that Stern landed in 2006 and his role in approving money to pay the salary of an SEIU leader in California who allegedly performed no work.

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the investigation.

The FBI and the Labor Department’s office of inspector general declined to comment for the record.

The disclosure about the federal inquiry of Stern — who abruptly resigned as president of the 2.2-million member SEIU in April — comes just weeks ahead of contentious congressional elections in which the union is spending an estimated $44 million to support its favored Democratic candidates.


The SEIU has been plagued with several financial scandals since 2008, when the Los Angeles Times reported that Tyrone Freeman, head of the union’s largest California local, misappropriated hundreds of thousands of dollars from the union. The union ousted Freeman and demanded that he return the money. No federal charges have been filed against him, but SEIU spokeswoman Michelle Ringuette said the union has been cooperating with the FBI.

Stern left his post two years before the end of his term, saying he wanted to focus more on his personal life. He remains a member of President Barack Obama’s deficit commission and a highly influential figure in the White House, where he was one of the most frequent visitors last year. He is also a research fellow at Georgetown University and a paid consultant for the SEIU.

Ringuette said she is unaware of any federal scrutiny of Stern. Ringuette rejected the notion that there was anything improper about the book deal or how the union paid its officials. She said similar unsubstantiated accusations have been floated for years by disgruntled former SEIU leaders and conservative bloggers.

One person who spoke to federal agents twice, in May and June, said they asked about a 2006 contract in which Stern received a $175,000 advance from Simon & Schuster to write the book “A Country That Works.” The SEIU and its locals bought thousands of copies of the book after it was published. The union also paid thousands to fact-check and promote the book, but Stern pocketed the advance.

Ringuette said the SEIU’s executive board fully vetted and approved the project. The board told local unions that purchasing Stern’s book “is a truly voluntary decision on the part of those who make it, and no adverse impact will result for anyone or any entity who refrains from purchasing or promoting the book,” according to documents obtained by the AP. The board also instructed locals to make sure any book purchases were authorized by the local’s constitution and bylaws.

Ringuette said the Simon & Schuster contract “did not require the purchase of a single book by SEIU.” Stern also received no royalties from book sales to the union.

Federal officials are also asking questions about how Stern and union officials approved payments to Alejandro Stephens, former president of the SEIU local that represents Los Angeles County government workers, according to the people who were interviewed.

The FBI has been investigating Stephens for more than a year. Earlier this month, he was sentenced in federal court this month to four months in jail and three months’ home confinement after pleading guilty to stealing $52,000 from a voter outreach program.

Stern has not been linked to any of the charges resulting in Stephens’ guilty plea. But federal agents are seeking details about the time in 2007 when Stephens’ local was merged into a larger SEIU local and he lost his post as president. The SEIU offered Stephens a generous severance package and a new job as a $75,000-a-year consultant to the SEIU California State Council.
Ringuette said the union arranged for Stephens to perform consulting work for the council and agreed to reimburse the council for his annual salary. But she said the union later discovered Stephens wasn’t actually doing any work.

Federal law prohibits labor unions from creating what amounts to “no-show” jobs that pay someone for work they do not perform.

Stephens’ attorney, Roger Rosen, said his client has not cooperated with federal officials and has no plans to in the future.~AP

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Sep 282010
 

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Sep 272010
 

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Sep 272010
 

Islamophobia under the guise of :

8 things churches can do to fight religious intolerance and bigotry

While “Burn a Koran day” was canceled, waves of Islamophobia are building to slowly create a tsunami of hate. Consider American public opinion about Islam and Muslims, which has continued to worsen since the 9/11 terror attacks.

In November 2001, the Pew Research Center found that 59 percent of Americans held positive opinions about Islam and Muslims because they knew that American Muslims had nothing to do with a group of terrorists. By August 2010, this number fell to 30 percent.

After the 9/11 attacks, at the request of churches, Sound Vision issued a guide on how they could help their Muslim neighbors during that difficult time. Since then, we have not felt the need to do that again – until now.

The Park 51 community center controversy has unleashed a fury of Islamophobia. While many of our Christian, Jewish, and other interfaith partners have stood by us, for which we are very grateful, more needs to be done.

Churches, in particular, have been targets for Islamophobes. They have been and continue to be sent free, anti-Islamic and anti-Muslim “information”. These books and films are often sent by “non-profit” hate organizations that profit by sowing seeds of fear, mistrust and prejudice against Islam and Muslims in our nation.

One example is how millions of copies of the hateful film “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West” has been distributed to countless churches and synagogues across the United States along with 28 million homes in swing states during the 2008 U.S. presidential election.

The issue is not about free speech or fear of criticism of Islam and Muslims. Sound Vision, for example, has been critical of Muslims on issues ranging from suicide bombing to racism. Since the time of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, countless speeches, books, films, websites, and blogs have been critical of various aspects Islam. But the difference between these and the kind of hate speech and literature I’m talking about is that the former use knowledge of Islam’s texts and history, along with dispassionate discourse, to formulate an argument. The latter, on the other hand, base their critique on the kind bigotry and prejudice that no reasoned American would tolerate about any other group of people, be it African-Americans, Jews or Catholics, for example.

RELATED:

The Third Jihad (Covers Islamberg)

Steve Emerson- Terrorists Among Us: Jihad in America-
Six parts

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Sep 272010
 

Rahm Emanuel hasn’t called Congressman Luis Guiterrez.

The White House chief of staff has been calling would-be mayoral candidates in an apparent bid to test the waters for a mayoral run but Guiterrez, a leading Hispanic voice in the city and potential candidate, hasn’t received a call.

Guiterrez, though, is no fan of Emanuel.

“I don’t believe he has helped immigration reform,” he said after speaking at an event to assist victims of recent flooding.

As to whether he’s running, Guiterrez says he’s “excited about the prospects” but right now he is busy with immigration reform in Congress.

When asked whether the bevy of potential Latino candidates for mayor made for a crowded field, Guiterrez said “it would be a mistake to think there are too many.”

~source

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Sep 272010
 

LONDON —A wealthy British businessman who owns the company that makes the two-wheeled Segway has been found dead in a river in northern England after apparently falling off a cliff on one of the vehicles, police said Monday.

The body of 62-year-old James Heselden and a Segway personal transporter were found in the River Wharfe and he was pronounced dead at the scene, West Yorkshire Police said.

Police said a witness had reported seeing a man fall Sunday over a 30-foot (9-meter) drop into the river near Boston Spa, 140 miles (225 kilometers) north of London.

“The incident is not believed to be suspicious,” police said, indicating that they do not believe anyone else was involved.

Police have not revealed further details about the incident. A dozen members of Heselden’s family asked for privacy Monday after placing flowers at the heavily wooded accident site, which is popular with hikers and nature lovers.

The battery-powered Segway, which is stabilized by gyroscopes, was invented by Dean Kamen, who founded the company in 1999. The unique transporter relies on electricity to recharge its batteries and travels at speeds up to 12.5 mph (20 kph), the company says on its website.

The Segway is far more protective of the environment than other scooters and automobiles, the company says, claiming it is 11 times more efficient than the average American car and also can be used indoors because it has no emissions.

Heselden, who bought control of the New Hampshire-based Segway company in December, made his fortune through his firm Hesco Bastion Ltd., which developed a system to replace the sand bags used to protect troops.

Hesco Bastion is based in Leeds, near the tough Halton Moor area where Heselden grew up. He left school at 15 and first worked as a coal miner before becoming a businessman and later a well known philanthropist.

Hesco Bastion said Heselden recently gave 10 million pounds ($15.9 million) to the Leeds Community Foundation, raising his total charitable giving to 23 million pounds.

“Jimi was an amazing man who, apart from being a wonderful success story for Leeds due to his business acumen, was also remarkably selfless and generous, giving millions to local charities to help people in his home city,” said Tom Riordan, the chief executive of Leeds City Council.

He described Heselden as a quiet, good-natured man who was tremendously proud of being from Leeds. He became wealthy through his business successes but said he and others who had prospered had an obligation to help others.

“There are people out there who are making money and when times are good I honestly believe people have a moral obligation to use their wealth to help others,” he told the Yorkshire Post earlier this year. “Life turned out pretty well for me, but I still work in the same area where I grew up and everyday I see people who for whatever reason are down on their luck.”

The lack of information about the circumstances surrounding Heselden’s death prompted questions about the Segway’s safety record – which one U.S. businessman was quick to defend.

Mobile Entertainment, which has offered Segway tours along the Mississippi River for the past seven years, has had more than 40,000 customers – most of them new to Segway – ride the device without any serious injuries, owner Bill Neuenschwander told The Associated Press.

“Nobody’s gone off a river, nobody,” he said, speaking from Minneapolis, Minnesota. “I can tell you firsthand: I can’t believe how safe this product is.”

He said the Segway was also easy to use off the road – on gravel, grass, hills or other steep inclines.

“People get it right away,” he said. “This product is perfectly safe when people respect its limitations.”

~source

RELATED:

On 20 July 1984, Author of the 1977 best-selling book, The Complete Book of Running, Jim Fixx died at the age of 52 of a fulminant heart attack, after his daily run, on Vermont Route 15 in Hardwick. The autopsy revealed that atherosclerosis had blocked one coronary artery 95%, a second 85%, and a third 70%.[citation needed] Although there were opponents of Fixx’s beliefs who said this was evidence that running was harmful, medical opinion continued to uphold the link between exercise and longevity.[3] In 1986, exercise physiologist Kenneth Cooper published an inventory of the risk factors that might have contributed to Fixx’s death [4]. Granted access to his medical records and autopsy, and after interviewing his friends and family, Cooper concluded that Fixx was genetically predisposed (his father died of a heart attack aged 43 and Fixx himself had a congenitally enlarged heart) and several lifestyle issues (Fixx was a heavy smoker prior to beginning running aged 36, he had a stressful occupation, he had undergone a second divorce, and his weight before he took up running had ballooned to 220lbs).

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Sep 272010
 
SorosTimeCover-227x300

My fellow NewsReal blogger Kathy Shaidle, who resides in Canada where protection of free speech is weak to say the least, has unfortunately run right into the George Soros’ legal buzz saw. Threatened with a lawsuit by Soros’ Canadian counsel for referencing and excerpting from an article in the Toronto Sun which claimed that George Soros, as a teenager in his native land of Hungary, had “collaborated with the Nazis,” Kathy revised her post and removed the reference.

Before 2003 George Soros had virtually no interest in Israel. In fact, at that time on his website, there was much ado about “open societies,” women, human rights, law, justice and grants all over the world. Under the Middle East there were some items about Turkey, lraq, oil, Caspian finances, but the words Israel or Palestinian did not come up.

In 1997 his Open Society Institute donated $1.3 million to the Council of Jewish Federations a very large, essentially non -political and respectable group which represents 157 Jewish Federations & 400 independent Jewish communities, and in their own words: “ protects and enhances the well-being of Jews worldwide through the values of tikkun olam (repairing the world), tzedakah (charity and social justice) and Torah (Jewish learning”). Read “progressive and left” into all those putative repairs of the world.

An equal amount was subsequently given to the Jewish Fund For Justice, another charity whose vision is: “to expand the Jewish progressive base and increase its capacity for creating economic justice while partnering with established institutions to engage them on issues of common concern. In the broader American community, JFSJ will strengthen the progressive capacity of low income communities and organizations while being a leader in reestablishing the Jewish community’s role as an anchor and ally to the social change movement. “ Read progressive twice and more left repairs of the world. And, today on their website is a banner stating: “Glenn Beck Attacks! Learn why and how you can respond.”

However, Soros assiduously avoided discussions about Israel, Arabs, the Mid-East “conflict” or Jewish political issues.
One would presume that the subject of Israel and Jews would be a tad difficult for Mr. Soros whose callousness about the Holocaust was on the record.


When the Nazis occupied Budapest in 1944, George Soros’ father, a successful lawyer, provided forged documentation that his fourteen year old son was Christian and bribed a government official to adopt him. When hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews were being deported to death camps, young George accompanied his guardian who was assigned to confiscate Jewish property.

One cannot make any judgments based on those facts in those times, however, his chilling and remorseless responses when questioned about them speak volumes on his character as an adult.

Here is an instructive partial transcript from an interview of Mr. Soros by Steve Kroft for CBS’ 60 Minutes on December 20, 1998:
(The program is interspersed with vintage footage of Jews walking in line; a man dragging a little boy in line, footage of women and men with bags walking, and a growing crowd near a train, boarding the train, doors closing with people in boxcars.)

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Sep 272010
 

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Sep 272010
 
Solutions



My fellow conservatives,

The stakes couldn’t be higher for our nation at this moment. In the coming months, Americans will help choose which direction our nation’s future will take. Will the federal government continue to spend more, tax more, control more, and defend our liberties less? Or will we choose a new and bolder direction that returns power to the people? All indications are that we are approaching one of those pivotal moments in our political history, a tipping point. It will be a test of our national character.

Like many Americans, we here at The Heritage Foundation are not concerned with party labels or affiliations. We are motivated by principles and by the best policies that will advance and defend those principles in the public square. We are unabashedly conservative, because we work to conserve an America where freedom, opportunity, prosperity and civil society flourish.

So whatever composition we see in our next Congress, we want to see majorities that represent the consent of the governed and that will take control of our presently unlimited government. We intend to leave to our children and grandchildren an America even better than the one we inherited from our forebears.

In its “Pledge to America,” the Republican Party last week offered its own vision for America’s future. The pledge is a step in the right direction and rightly frames the debate around our core first principles and the role of the state, popular consent and self-government.

We have ourselves produced a set of recommendations that we think will heal much of what ails our country. We call them “Solutions for America.”

We’re happy that some proposals in the Pledge mirror proposals we have in Solutions for America. Both of these plans are headed in the right direction. But we want to be even bolder.

Our Solutions for America is an overarching blueprint for governing. It’s designed to replace the failed policies of the liberal establishment with solid conservative solutions that will shrink government, reduce debt, keep taxes low, put Americans back to work and keep us safe.

Solutions for America identifies the nature and scope of our most pressing problems in 23 policy areas and recommends 128 specific policy solutions to guide the new Congress. Here are some of our ideas:


* Cap Federal Spending: President Obama’s proposed budget would increase the national debt from $13 trillion now to $20 trillion by 2020. This is an unsustainable trajectory. We propose a “binding cap” that forces lawmakers back to fiscal sanity.
* Put Entitlement Programs Under the Budget: We propose putting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid into the congressional budget process rather than continue to allow them to grow on auto-pilot without oversight. Lawmakers would establish a five-year budget for these programs and include triggers to keep spending with approved limits.
* Reform Social Security: We should raise the Social Security retirement age and encourage people to work longer by eliminating payroll taxes for those over the retirement age. This would lessen the burden on employers to keep people employed and lessen the burden on Medicare and other entitlements.
* Revive Federalism: We must reverse the current trend in which the federal government more and more usurps the traditional state role in areas such as transportation, education, health, homeland security and law enforcement.
* Loan Welfare Money to Able Bodied Recipients: Our plan advises treating welfare assistance to able-bodied adults as a loan to be repaid, rather than a free gift from taxpayers. This will reduce dependency while providing temporary help to those who need it.
* Keep Taxes Low: First, no tax increases, including the planned Obama Tax Hikes as well as the reintroduction of the Death Tax. Instead, cut taxes to spur economic growth.
* Implement a Pro-Growth, Pro-Jobs Strategy: We must reduce the top tax rate on corporate earnings, which is currently the second highest among ALL industrial nations, and let businesses immediately deduct investments in new plants and equipment.
* Peace Through Strength: Defense spending is near historical lows. We must refurbish our armed forces, especially our depleted Navy fleet and vital missile defenses.

These are just some of the many policy recommendations we include in Solutions for America. Please go read the entire document at Heritage.org. Share it with your friends and encourage them to join the debate, whether it is by going to a Heritage event, liking us on Facebook, or signing up for The Morning Bell. Every action you take towards a brighter future for America is – like the Pledge and Solutions for America – a step in the right direction.

Now is the time to be bold, and to act as befits our character. That is what our parents and grandparents would expect of us, what future generations demand—and what The Heritage Foundation offers to America. Thank you.

Sincerely,
Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D., President, The Heritage Foundation

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Sep 272010
 

Fascinating insight into the political mind

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