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Cuba’s President Castro Sends Positive Signals to the New Obama Administration

The Obama administration has taken note of remarks both by Cuban President Raul Castro and by his brother, former President Fidel Castro, expressing, in part, positive sentiments about Barack Obama and the significance of his presidency, according to a senior State Department official. Both Castros, using somewhat different language, have said they view Obama as intelligent and sincere in wanting to change U.S. foreign policy and see his presidency as historic.

The Castros’ remarks have come since the U.S. election and have continued occasionally in interviews, comments to the media, and, in the case of Fidel Castro, his frequent articles in the Cuban press. “I think the statements are important. They’ve registered,” said the State Department official.

U.S. policy toward Cuba, including the various restrictions that flow from a 47-year-old economic embargo, will be reviewed by Obama administration agencies. During the campaign, Obama said that he intended to remove restrictions on travel and remittances to Cuba by Cuban-Americans and that he favored well-prepared “direct diplomacy” with the island’s communist government.

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Partially cut:

• $3.5 billion for energy-efficient federal buildings (original bill $7 billion)

• $75 million from Smithsonian (original bill $150 million)

• $200 million from Environmental Protection Agency Superfund (original bill $800 million)

• $100 million from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (original bill $427 million)

• $100 million from law enforcement wireless (original bill $200 million)

• $300 million from federal fleet of hybrid vehicles (original bill $600 million)

• $100 million from FBI construction (original bill $400 million)

Fully eliminated

• $55 million for historic preservation

• $122 million for Coast Guard polar icebreaker/cutters

• $100 million for Farm Service Agency modernization

• $50 million for Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service

• $65 million for watershed rehabilitation

• $100 million for distance learning

• $98 million for school nutrition

• $50 million for aquaculture

• $2 billion for broadband

• $100 million for National Institute of Standards and Technology

• $50 million for detention trustee

• $25 million for Marshalls Construction

• $300 million for federal prisons

• $300 million for BYRNE Formula grant program

• $140 million for BYRNE Competitive grant program

• $10 million state and local law enforcement

• $50 million for NASA

• $50 million for aeronautics

• $50 million for exploration

• $50 million for Cross Agency Support

• $200 million for National Science Foundation

• $100 million for science

• $1 billion for Energy Loan Guarantees

• $4.5 billion for General Services Administration

• $89 million General Services Administration operations

• $50 million from Department of Homeland Security

• $200 million Transportation Security Administration

• $122 million for Coast Guard Cutters, modifies use

• $25 million for Fish and Wildlife

• $55 million for historic preservation

• $20 million for working capital fund

• $165 million for Forest Service capital improvement

• $90 million for State and Private Wildlife Fire Management

• $1 billion for Head Start/Early Start

• $5.8 billion for Health Prevention Activity

• $2 billion for Health Information Technology Grants

• $600 million for Title I (No Child Left Behind)

• $16 billion for school construction

• $3.5 billion for higher education construction

• $1.25 billion for project based rental

• $2.25 billion for Neighborhood Stabilization

• $1.2 billion for retrofitting Project 8 housing

• $40 billion for state fiscal stabilization (includes $7.5 billion of state incentive grants)

WASHINGTON – Michael S. Steele, the newly elected chairman of the Republican National Committee, arranged for his 2006 Senate campaign to pay a defunct company run by his sister for services that were never performed, his finance chairman from that campaign has told federal prosecutors.

Federal agents in recent days contacted Steele’s sister, a spokesman for Steele said yesterday.

The claim about the payment, one of several allegations by Alan B. Fabian, is outlined in a confidential court document. Fabian offered the information last March as he was seeking leniency for himself during plea negotiations on unrelated fraud charges. It is unclear how extensively his claims have been pursued. Prosecutors gave him no credit for cooperation when he was sentenced in October.

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JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The Alaska Senate on Friday found Gov. Sarah Palin’s husband and nine state employees, including some of her top aides, in contempt for ignoring subpoenas to testify in the Legislature’s Troopergate investigation.

The Senate said it would seek no punishment for the witnesses’ failure to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee last fall in an investigation into the governor’s firing of her public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan.

“During the Monegan investigation, we were reminded that the legislative branch’s power of subpoena is an important one, and must be respected by the executive branch,” said Sen. Hollis French, D-Anchorage. “With this resolution, the Senate is making it clear that we are a coequal branch of state government.”

When are people going to understand that Palin is just another self-promoting, lying republican who thinks that they are above the law. She is good for one thing and one thing only, and its not politics.  She fulfills the sexual fantasy of the sexually oppressed republican male, nothing more.  This is the one thing that the McCain camp got right in selecting her.

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Ronald Reagan’s 98th birthday is being celebrated today at a time that should be a cause for soul searching among his admirers. The conservative revolution that Reagan unleashed upon the nation and much of the world lay in ashes, and Washington is embarking on a new epoch of government intervention to eradicate the excesses of free-market purism. One would expect liberals to be out in the streets looking for statues of the Gipper to topple from their pedestals.

But nothing of the kind is happening. While George W. Bush is now the bane even of many conservatives, a Marine Corps contingent will lay a wreath at Reagan’s gravesite safe in the knowledge that much of the nation holds his memory in a warm embrace.

Historians may one day view this as an odd historical conundrum, since Reagan’s legacy is so clearly imprinted on the myriad of forces that have vitiated the American dream for millions of working people and brought wreckage to the world economy.

The continuing fallout from Reagan’s policies – the meltdown of the financial sector, widening income inequality, the emergence of lockdown America, the obscene inflation of CEO compensation, the end of locally owned media, market crashes, blackouts, drug-company scandals, rampant greed and materialism — is all around us. As D.H. Lawrence once wrote in another context, “The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins.”

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Joe the Plumber now advising the GOP on the economy

Failed out of college, failed the bar. Ran for senate, lied about his affiliation, lied about his endorsements, lost by double digits anyway. And stem cells are the same as the Holocaust.

Classic GOP idiocracy and disdain for the normal folk….

As President Obama makes his final push for approval of the $825 billion and growing job stimulus plan, he’s winning support from groups like Americans United for Change that are targeting opposing Republicans. We heard from Americans United boss Brad Woodhouse today, and he revealed plans to expand his ad campaign against Republican foes. The hook of the ads: Are Republicans going to walk in lock-step with popular conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh? “The time to act boldly to turn this economy around is now, and we are leaving no stone unturned, ratcheting up the pressure on key senators to do the right thing,” he says. “House Republicans decided to listen to Rush Limbaugh and put partisan politics ahead of getting people back to work as the Obama plan would do. We are putting senators on notice not to follow Limbaugh off the cliff into the political abyss but to support the Obama jobs plan instead.”

So, starting this week, he’s expanding TV and radio ads targeting Republicans. Included in the new wave are Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar, Missouri Sen. Kit Bond, Kentucky Sen. Jim Bunning, North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr, and Florida Sen. Mel Martinez. Woodhouse called the radio ads “Limbaugh themed.” Right now, the group is running ads against 13 of the 41 senators, or an entire third of the GOP caucus.

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Just four days before he left office, President Bush instructed former White House aide Karl Rove to refuse to cooperate with future congressional inquiries into alleged misconduct during his administration. On Jan. 16, 2009, then White House Counsel Fred Fielding sent a letter (.pdf) to Rove’s lawyer, Robert Luskin. The message: should his client receive any future subpoenas, Rove “should not appear before Congress” or turn over any documents relating to his time in the White House. The letter told Rove that President Bush was continuing to assert executive privilege over any testimony by Rove—even after he leaves office. A nearly identical letter (.pdf) was also sent by Fielding the day before to a lawyer for former White House counsel Harriet Miers, instructing her not to appear for a scheduled deposition with the House Judiciary Committee. That letter reasserted the White House position that Miers has “absolute immunity” from testifying before Congress about anything she did while she worked at the White House—a far-reaching claim that is being vigorously disputed by lawyers for the House of Representatives in court.

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The authors, Allan Uthman and Ian Murphy, use some choice words and pictures in this piece so if you’re a wimp, a prude, or have a fragile constitution,  you probably don’t want to read the whole article.

15. Michele Bachmann

14. Bernie Madoff

13. Mark Penn

12. Dina Lohan

11. David Addington

10. Michelle Malkin

9. Rick Warren

8. Ashley Todd

7. Joe Lieberman

6. Rush Limbaugh

5. Dick Cheney

4. George W. Bush

3. Sean Hannity

2. John McCain

1. Sarah Palin

(CNN) – Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell painted a downright dismal view of the state of his party Thursday afternoon, telling Republican National Committee members the GOP is in grave danger of being marginalized to a regional party.

“We’re all concerned about the fact that the very wealthy and the very poor, the most and least educated, and a majority of minority voters, seem to have more or less stopped paying attention to us,” the Kentucky Republican said on the second day of the four-day gathering.

“And we should be concerned that, as a result of all this, the Republican Party seems to be slipping into a position of being more of a regional party than a national one.

“In politics there’s a name for a regional party, it’s called a minority party,” said McConnell.

Here’s a clue Mitch of what America wants of the GOP, get back to the basics of the 1970’s and 80’s, stop the preferential treatment of the rich at the expense of the middle class, and most importantly, stop pandering to the Christian right and their socially oppressive agenda.

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A huge sculpture of the footwear hurled at President Bush in December during a trip to Iraq has been unveiled in a ceremony at the Tikrit Orphanage complex.

Assisted by children at the home, sculptor Laith al-Amiri erected a brown replica of one of the shoes hurled at Bush and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki by journalist Muntadhir al-Zaidi during a press conference in Baghdad.

Al-Zaidi was jailed for his actions, and a trial is pending. But his angry gesture touched a defiant nerve throughout the Arab and Muslim world. He is regarded by many people as a hero. Demonstrators in December took to the streets in the Arab world and called for his release.

The final moments of Bush’s presidency will be defined by this act, sad.

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Suicides among Army troops hit a nearly three-decade high last year, senior defense officials tell The Associated Press.

The officials, speaking to the AP on condition of anonymity because the data have not been formally released, say at least 128 soldiers killed themselves in 2008, compared with 115 in 2007 and 102 in 2006.

Another example of the GOP’s “Country First”

Reports of a recent study by the Congressional Budget Office, showing that the vast majority of the money in the stimulus package won’t be spent until after 2010, have Democrats on the defensive and the GOP calling for a pullback in wasteful spending.

Funny thing is, there is no such report.

“We did not issue any report, any analysis or any study,” a CBO aide told the Huffington Post.

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Think Progress-On Friday, when President Obama met with congressional leaders from both parties to discuss his economic recovery and reinvestment program, he told GOP leaders, “You can’t just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done.” Asked for a response by National Review yesterday, Limbaugh said that Obama’s “plan is to isolate elected Republicans from their voters.” He added that passage of the stimulus bill would hurt Republicans electorally:

Obama’s plan would buy votes for the Democrat Party, in the same way FDR’s New Deal established majority power for 50 years of Democrat rule, and it would also simultaneously seriously damage any hope of future tax cuts. It would allow a majority of American voters to guarantee no taxes for themselves going forward. It would burden the private sector and put the public sector in permanent and firm control of the economy. Put simply, I believe his stimulus is aimed at re-establishing “eternal” power for the Democrat Party rather than stimulating the economy because anyone with a brain knows this is NOT how you stimulate the economy.

Limbaugh’s argument echoes former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell’s recent claim that Obama’s stimulus plan “could create a major electoral advantage for Democrats at taxpayer expense.” “Creating 600,000 new jobs might help cement Virginia in the Democrat column, making it harder for Republicans to retake the White House,” said Blackwell.

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