DESPERATELY SEARCHING FOR LOOPHOLES, THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION RECONSIDERS A PLAN FOR WITHDRAWAL FROM IRAQ.
President Obama and his top military and political experts are searching for ways to keep a significant number of US troops in Iraq well beyond the December 2011 withdrawal date agreed to by the US and Iraqi governments in the last “Status of Forces Agreement” (SOFA). Claiming to be worried about the stability and effectiveness of the Iraq government and military, the United States is poring over the SOFA to find what can only be described as loopholes and obscure language allowing for either US troops to stay beyond the specified withdrawal date or for a new pact to be put together in order for troops to stay. Administration officials are parsing the language of the last SOFA, arguing that the December 2011 withdrawal date was not a finite deadline, and that the SOFA was merely a “bridge document to get us to end of 2011.” As negotiations with the Iraqis continue, the White House is working to keep the prospect of ditching the December 2011 withdrawal plan under wraps as the president commences his reelection campaign.
Two prominent Republican members of Congress, Steve King of Iowa and Michele Bachmann, a current presidential candidate, are questioning the financial settlement agreed to between the federal government and black farmers that were the target of discrimination government workers in denying them loans and farm aid. King called the payments a form of “modern-day reparations” to African-Americans, a truly curious choice of words, and labeled many of the claims “fraudulent.” King and Bachmann, who represents Minnesota but is campaigning for the presidency in Iowa, want the most recent payment approved by President Obama of over a billion dollars to go to Iowans, mainly white farmers, affected by this year’s flooding. Advocates for the black farmers at the center of the settlement say that the two lawmakers are looking at black farmers “in a very negative way” and that such attitudes are “bad for the American people.”
The fallout from Alabama’s new immigration law has led to protests and stiff opposition from the state’s Hispanic community and civil rights activists that call the law racist and unconstitutional in mandating that state and local law enforcement check the immigration status of anyone they stop and even criminalizing the act of giving an “illegal” immigrant a ride. The law faces serious threats in the courts, where opponents have filed motions challenging it. But the sheer cost of implementing the law is leading to new criticism, with local governments unsure of how they will absorb the financial costs of enforcing the law. Facing cuts of over $13 million, Alabama’s judicial system may not be prepared to handle the surge of cases expected to stem from the immigration law, with law enforcement required to take suspected undocumented immigrants to state and county courts for hearings. Alabama law experts say it is “another law on the books that nobody can afford to enforce.”
LESBIAN COUPLES HOLDING HANDS ARE THE LATEST THREAT TO PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY IN SAN FRANCISCO’S ART MUSEUMS…
(San Francisco Chronicle)
Or at least according to one very intolerant security guard at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco. As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, a lesbian couple that were, ironically, viewing a Gertrude Stein exhibit were accosted by a guard at the museum for holding hands, being told that “they couldn’t hold hands in the museum” and then having the guard attempt to “shoo them” out of the building. The incident has a become a major story n the city, and the museum has asked the private security firm that employs the guard in question to reprimand him.
(South Florida Sun-Sentinel)
Student transfers from “low-performing” public schools to nearby schools that have score better on the state’s standardized testing have been allowed for well over a decade. But this year, Gov. Rick Scott has greatly expanded the transfer program, leading to a mid-July wave of student departures from 159 public schools across Florida. The nominal reason for allowing students to transfer is to punish schools that perform poorly on the state’s FCAT comprehensive exam, and give parents the opportunity to move their children to schools that rank higher according to the comprehensive test. But school administrators and teachers question the transfer program, saying that parents and other schools often take advantage of the system for such things as recruiting athletes from a failing school, and that their will be “unintended consequences” of allowing so many students to leave a school en masse.
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