Archive for April 7, 2012

Ahead of President Barack Obama’s planned introduction of “To Kill a Mockingbird” on USA Network Saturday night, the Washington Free Beacon has polled the first family’s cameo TV appearances — and found the majority of them seem to go to networks owned by major donors.

USA Network is owned by NBC Universal, whose show “The Biggest Loser” saw a special appearance by Michelle Obama this past week. Michelle Obama has also appeared on (NBC-owned) Bravo’s “Top Chef” and had multiple guest stints on NBC late-night shows hosted by Jay Leno and Jimmy Fallon.

NBC’s two parent companies are Comcast and General Electric, both with close ties to the Obama administration, the Beacon points out:

Obama named GE chief executive Jeffrey Immelt to his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness in January 2011. He enjoys an even friendlier relationship with Comcast executive vice president David Cohen, a former lobbyist.

Cohen has emerged as a prolific fundraiser for Obama in 2012, raising at least $1.2 million for the president after hosting a $10,000 per head fundraiser at his Philadelphia home. He has contributed $224,850 to liberal groups and candidates since 2007, including a $2,300 donation to Obama in 2008.

Comcast has followed suit, flooding Democrats and Obama with money since 2008, donating $2.3 million to Democrats. That is $300,000 more than it gave to Republicans.

Read more here.

Apple will become the world’s first trillion-dollar company when its shares top $1,000 each, Wall Street analysts have predicted.

The technology giant’s shares were worth $633.38 last week as its stock price rose above Google’s for the first time.

Brian White, of Topeka Capital Markets, then claimed Apple’s sky-high share price will hit four figures within 12 months – making the company worth $1trillion.

He said in his report: ‘Apple fever is spreading like a wildfire around the world.’

Gene Munster, of Piper Jaffray, followed that up by claiming Apple stock will hit $1,000 – but by 2014.

The company, based in Cupertino, California, is already the most valuable company in the world currently valued at $590.82billion (£372billion).

Read more here.

Caught on camera– a tourist being beaten in downtown Baltimore and instead of helping him, a crowd laughs and steals his belongings.

Mike Hellgren has the video and the investigation.

Police hope this video will get the attackers off the streets.

The video shows a man being punched in the face in Downtown Baltimore. You can hear his head hit the pavement near the entrance to Courthouse East.

Instead of helping, people laugh.

Then, the crowd strips him naked and takes his car keys, watch, money and iPhone.

It happened St. Patrick’s Day. Police say the victim was out partying and woke up the next day at his hotel, cut and bruised with no idea why.

“He had every right to leave wherever he was and get back to where he needed to be safely. Their behavior was just criminal,” Det. Nicole Monroe of the Baltimore City Police Department said.

“Not only was he relieved of his property after he was assaulted, but there were a lot of other things done to him that are disturbing to look at, and we want to bring these people to justice,” Det. Monroe said

Read more here.

TUNIS — Like it or not, this is the year of the Islamist.

Fourteen months after popular uprisings toppled dictators in Tunisia and Egypt, Islamist political parties – religiously conservative groups that oppose the use of violence – have swept interim elections, started rewriting constitutions and become the odds-on favorites to win general elections.

Western hopes that more liberal parties would fare well have been dashed. Secular Arab groups are divided, perceived as elitist or enjoy tepid popular support.

But instead of the political process moving forward, a toxic political dynamic is emerging. Aggressive tactics by hardline Muslims generally known as Salafists are sowing division. Moderate Islamists are moving cautiously, speaking vaguely and trying to hold their diverse political parties together. And some Arab liberals are painting dark conspiracy theories.

Ahmed Ounaies, a pro-Western Tunisian politician who briefly served as foreign minister in the country’s post-revolutionary government, said that he no long trusted Rachid Ghannouchi, the leader of Tunisia’s moderate Islamist party. Echoing other secular Tunisians, he said some purportedly moderate Muslim leaders are, in fact, aligned with hardliners.

“We believe that Mr. Ghannouchi is a Salafist,” Ouanies said in an interview. “He is a real supporter of those groups.”

Months after gaining power, moderate Islamists find themselves walking a political tightrope. They are trying to show their supporters that they are different from the corrupt, pro-Western regimes they replaced. They are trying to persuade Western investors and tourists to trust them, return and help revive flagging economies. And they are trying to counter hardline Salafists who threaten to steal some of their conservative support.

The decision this week by Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood to field a candidate in the country’s presidential elections – which begin next month – is one example. The Brotherhood, which had promised not to field a candidate, said it entered to block a hardline Islamist from winning the presidency. Liberals scoffed at the explanation, accused the Brotherhood of seeking dictatorial powers and pulled out of the country’s constitutional assembly.

In Tunisia, Ghannouchi and his Ennahda party are the focus. Tunisians say debates over religion are distracting the country’s new government from its primary problem – a sputtering economy. Secularists accuse Ennahda of being too lenient on hardline Salafists, who enjoy little popular support here. Salafists have the right to protest in the new Tunisia, secularists argue, but should not be allowed to violently attack other groups.

Salafists attacked a television station in October after it aired the animated film “Persepolis,” which featured a portrayal of God. They partially shut down a leading university for two months this winter and attacked a group of secular demonstrators last month.

At the same time, a Tunisian judge jailed a newspaper editor for eight days in February after he published a photograph of a soccer player and his nude girlfriend on the cover of a local tabloid. On Thursday, two young men were sentenced to seven years in jail for posting cartoons of a nude Prophet Muhammand on Facebook.

Read more here.

Police believe the same attacker or attackers are behind a series of early-morning shootings in which three people were killed and two others were critically wounded within a three-mile span of north Tulsa.

Homicide detective Sgt. Dave Walker said investigators don’t have the results of forensic tests yet, but police think the early Friday morning shootings are linked because they happened around the same time in the same general area and all five victims were out walking when they were shot.

Police don’t believe the victims knew one another and are trying to determine the circumstances behind the killings.

All five victims are black, and black community leaders met Friday evening in an effort to calm unrest and promote safety. NAACP Tulsa president, the Rev. Warren Blakney Sr., told the Tulsa World someone appeared to be “targeting black people to shoot.”

“I’m on edge for my people,” Blakney said.

Read more here.

Are radical fringe movements being allowed to hijack the Trayvon Martin case?

With parallel local and federal investigations of the Florida teen’s shooting underway, radical groups from both the far left and far right are gathering in Sanford, Fla., bringing additional tension to an already strained situation.

The New Black Panther Party was in Sanford on Saturday to lead a “Self Defense and Survival Training.”

The group has been front and center in the Martin case nearly from the beginning. Representatives from the NBPP have appeared on cable news programs and in all forms of the media demanding “justice for Trayvon.” They have also offered a $10,000 bounty for the “arrest” of George Zimmerman and been involved in several different rallies and marches related to the case. And, as reported earlier this week on The Blaze, NBPP is also pushing its National Day of Action & Absence.

Read more here.

The March unemployment data has been issued. The government claims 120,000 jobs were created and the unemployment rate fell to 8.2% from 8.3% in February. However closer looks at the statistics reveal an altogether different scenario.

In March, an additional 164,000 people dropped out of the labor force bring the total of people not in the labor force up to nearly 88 million (a new record). In January of 2009 (when Obama assumed office that total was 81 million.

The published unemployment rate of 8.2% does not include those who have dropped out of the job market or are discouraged. However the Bureau of Labor Statistics does publish a statistic that takes into account the total unemployed, plus discouraged workers and those marginally attached to the labor force (but not the entire universe of those who have completely dropped out of the labor force), that they all the U-5 unemployment rate, which in March was 9.6%.

If the labor force participation rate (that part of the overall civilian population in the labor force) were the same as when Obama took office, then the actual unemployment rate would be 10.5%. As those not in the labor force has increased nearly seven million since Obama became President.

By comparison the last time the nation faced a severe recession (actually worse than what Obama faced) was in the early 1980′s. The unemployment rate peaked at 10.8% (November 1982) under Ronald Reagan; however within 14 months that rate was down to 7.6% after the effect of Reagan’s new policies took hold — a drop of 30%.

On the other hand the peak during the Obama years was in October 2009 at 11.5% (using the U-5 rate as that compares to the calculations used in the 1980′s). March of 2012 is 30 months later and the rate is at a high 9.6% — a drop of just 16%.