Wednesday, January 12 Nine Circles of Hell!


The Nine Circles of Hell! – all the news that gives you fits in print – for Wednesday, January 12, 2011, plus a bonus story on ‘blood libel’, are:

Corporations profit from lobbying, campaign contributions

Fearing Tea Party violence, Arizona Republican politician resigns

Tea Party moves to racially re-segregate school system

Deadly shooting of Mexican teen by US Border Patrol under investigation

Despite Obama Gitmo closure promise, judge refuses to release detainee

Photos reveal continued Haitian earthquake destruction

Egypt warns Hamas of potential new Israeli war

Lebanon faces ‘worst political crisis since 2008’

What did Sarah Palin mean by chargining the media with “blood libel”?

Corporations profit from lobbying, campaign contributions
Post and Courier

Lobbying pays off for companies

Corporate investment in lobbying and political campaigns can directly benefit a company’s bottom line, according to a new study by a trio of university researchers.

The study by University of Tennessee professors Russell Crook and David Woehr and University of South Florida professor Sean Lux found that corporate political activity typically results in 20 percent higher performance for companies.

‘We wanted to investigate the relationships and interactions between companies and politicians and ultimately how that affects a firm’s bottom line,’ said Crook, a management professor.

What the researchers found was a ‘pretty strong correlation’ between corporate political activity — lobbying and campaign donations — and a company’s profit growth.

Other findings include:

Larger firms are more likely to be politically active.

Incumbent politicians are the most frequent targets of corporate political activity.

Companies that are heavily regulated by government or dependent on government contracts are more likely to be politically active.

The study, titled ‘Mixing Business with Politics: A Meta-Analytic Study of Corporate Political Activity,’ will be published this month in the Journal of Management.

Fearing Tea Party violence, Arizona Republican politician resigns
Arizona Republic

Gabrielle Giffords’ Arizona shooting prompts resignations

A nasty battle between factions of Legislative District 20 Republicans and fears that it could turn violent in the wake of what happened in Tucson on Saturday prompted District Chairman Anthony Miller and several others to resign.

Miller, a 43-year-old Ahwatukee Foothills resident and former campaign worker for U.S. Sen. John McCain, was re-elected to a second one-year term last month. He said constant verbal attacks after that election and Internet blog posts by some local members with Tea Party ties made him worry about his family’s safety.

In an e-mail sent a few hours after Saturday’s massacre in Tucson that killed six and injured 13, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Miller told state Republican Party Chairman Randy Pullen he was quitting: “Today my wife of 20 yrs ask (sic) me do I think that my PCs (Precinct Committee members) will shoot at our home? So with this being said I am stepping down from LD20GOP Chairman…I will make a full statement on Monday” …

The newly-elected Dist. 20 Republican secretary, Sophia Johnson of Ahwatukee, first vice chairman Roger Dickinson of Tempe and Jeff Kolb, the former district spokesman from Ahwatukee, also quit. “This singular focus on ‘getting’ Anthony (Miller) was one of the main reasons I chose to resign,” Kolb said in an e-mail to another party activist. Kolb confirmed the contents of the e-mail to the Republic.

District 20 includes parts of Chandler, south Tempe and Ahwatukee Foothills. Republican state Rep. Bob Robson of Chandler and Sen. John McComish of Ahwatukee said they had supported Miller as chairman and were sorry to see him go. “It’s too bad,” McComish said. “He didn’t deserve to be hounded out of office.”

A longtime Republican activist, McComish said contentious battles for local party leadership posts are nothing new, but this one appears to be more extreme, especially since there are no partisan elections in 2011 and by next year district boundaries will change.

Kolb said the Tea Party and associated conservative groups ran their slate of candidates for seven Dist. 20 leadership positions, winning three — the treasurer’s post and two vice-chairmanships. However, Miller beat challenger Thomas Morrissey for the top post after Sheriff Joe Arpaio made a personal appearance for Morrissey. Phone messages left for Morrissey were not returned.

After the election and around the December holiday season, some of Miller’s detractors made an issue of the residency of Dickinson, the first vice-chairman. Dickinson, who did not return phone messages, was a supporter of Miller’s and allegedly moved to a different precinct within Dist. 20 last year, making him ineligible for the leadership post. Miller said he told the critics he would handle the matter after the holidays. In the meantime, a series of accusatory e-mails was exchanged among party members. Some blasted Miller’s support of McCain, called him a “McCainiac with a penchant for violating the rules” and a “McCain hack” …

Miller said when he was a member of McCain’s campaign staff last year has been criticized by the more conservative party members who supported Republican opponent J.D. Hayworth. The first and only African-American to hold the party’s precinct chairmanship, Miller said he has been called “McCain’s boy,” and during the campaign saw a critic form his hand in the shape of a gun and point it at him.

“I wasn’t going to resign but decided to quit after what happened Saturday,” Miller said. “I love the Republican Party but I don’t want to take a bullet for anyone.”

Tea Party moves to racially re-segregate school system
The Washington Post

Republican school board in N.C. backed by tea party abolishes integration policy

The sprawling Wake County School District has long been a rarity. Some of its best, most diverse schools are in the poorest sections of this capital city. And its suburban schools, rather than being exclusive enclaves, include children whose parents cannot afford a house in the neighborhood.

But over the past year, a new majority-Republican school board backed by national tea party conservatives has set the district on a strikingly different course. Pledging to “say no to the social engineers!” it has abolished the policy behind one of the nation’s most celebrated integration efforts.

And as the board moves toward a system in which students attend neighborhood schools, some members are embracing the provocative idea that concentrating poor children, who are usually minorities, in a few schools could have merits – logic that critics are blasting as a 21st-century case for segregation.

The situation unfolding here in some ways represents a first foray of tea party conservatives into the business of shaping a public school system, and it has made Wake County the center of a fierce debate over the principle first enshrined in the Supreme Court’s 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education: that diversity and quality education go hand in hand …

… critics accuse the new board of pursuing an ideological agenda aimed at nothing less than sounding the official death knell of government-sponsored integration in one of the last places to promote it. Without a diversity policy in place, they say, the county will inevitably slip into the pattern that defines most districts across the country, where schools in well-off neighborhoods are decent and those in poor, usually minority neighborhoods struggle.

The NAACP has filed a civil rights complaint arguing that 700 initial student transfers the new board approved have already increased racial segregation, violating laws that prohibit the use of federal funding for discriminatory purposes. In recent weeks, federal education officials visited the county, the first step toward a possible investigation.

“So far, all the chatter we heard from tea partyers has not manifested in actually putting in place retrograde policies. But this is one place where they have literally attempted to turn back the clock,” said Benjamin Todd Jealous, president of the NAACP.

Deadly shooting of Mexican teen by US Border Patrol under investigation
Nogales International

Border shooting now a federal case in Mexico

Mexico’s federal Attorney General’s Office has taken over that country’s investigation into the deadly shooting of a Nogales, Sonora teenager near the border fence last week, the Sonora state prosecutor’s office said Monday.

“The matter was turned over to the federal Attorney General’s Office (PGR),” said Jose Larrinaga Talamantes, spokesman for the state Attorney General’s office, or PGJE. “They have the investigation now that it’s been determined that the shot was indeed fired from the United States.”

Sonoran state officials had previously reported witnesses saying that 17-year-old Ramses Barron Torres, who died at approximately 3 a.m. on Jan. 5, had been climbing the fence as he fled back into Mexico when a Border Patrol agent shot him. However, a 17-year-old Nogales, Sonora youth who claimed to have witnessed the shooting told Radio XENY that Barron Torres had been standing five or six meters on the Mexican side of the fence when he was shot …

On Saturday, Barron Torres was buried at the Jardines de los Cipreses cemetery in Nogales, Sonora following a procession from Buenos Aires and a Mass at the Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe church.

Local media reported that dozens of youths attended the events wearing T-shirts bearing Barron Torres’ image and carrying banners demanding justice. Following the burial, they marched from the south side of the Dennis DeConcini Port of Entry to the municipal government offices, again carrying banners and shouting slogans demanding justice for their fallen friend.

Despite Obama Gitmo closure promise, judge refuses to release detainee

Algerian denied release from Guantanamo prison

A U.S. judge on Tuesday refused to release a detainee held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, just as the facility enters its tenth year of operations despite a pledge by President Barack Obama to close it.

Abdul Razak Ali, originally from Algeria, was captured in March 2002 at a house in Pakistan where the operations director for al Qaeda, Abu Zubaydah, was arrested after a shootout. Ali was moved to Guantanamo in June 2002.

Ali had petitioned the U.S. court seeking release from the controversial prison which holds dozens of terrorism suspects, arguing that it was a case of mistaken identity and that he had never been to Afghanistan with Zubaydah’s group.

U.S. Judge Richard Leon denied Ali’s request, finding that the government had enough evidence showing that he was part of Zubaydah’s group and pointing to where he was captured and a diary by a close friend of Zubaydah which listed him as being at a location in Afghanistan.

“In sum, the government proffered more than enough credible evidence for this court to conclude that it is more likely than not that petitioner was, indeed, a member of Abu Zubaydah’s force,” said Leon in a 15-page ruling.

The judge also said in his ruling that Ali, who now says his name is Saeed Bakhouche, had admitted when he was first interrogated that he “had gone to Afghanistan to fight in the jihad against the U.S. and its Allied forces.”

There are still 173 detainees at the Guantanamo prison, which Obama has had trouble closing because of political opposition to putting the terrorism suspects held there on trial in the United States …

A group of protesters, some dressed in orange jumpsuits with dark hoods over their heads, marched in front of the White House and Justice Department on Tuesday calling for Obama to follow through on his pledge to close the prison.

Photos reveal continued Haitian earthquake destruction
The New York Times

Destruction in Haiti, Then and Now

View aerial photos from GeoEye and Google that show Port-au-Prince before and after the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake.

Egypt warns Hamas of potential new Israeli war

Egypt tells Hamas to stop Gaza rockets or face new Israel war

Egypt has told Hamas that Israel might launch a Gaza war to curb rocket attacks, a warning that led the group to urge other militant factions to cease fire, sources familiar with Egypt-Hamas contacts said on Wednesday.

“Egypt has told Hamas the Gaza situation was similar to that before December 2008,” said one source, referring to the start of the three-week war Israel waged in the Hamas-run enclave with the declared aim of halting cross-border rocket strikes

“Hamas does not want a new escalation unless it is forced into it,” the source said.

A Palestinian official said Egypt and another Arab country, which he declined to identify, had discussed the issue with Hamas. Hamas officials declined to comment.

On Sunday, Hamas said it had made contact with other factions to urge them to recommit to an agreement they reached two years ago to stop rocket and mortar bomb fire.

In recent weeks, Palestinian militants have stepped up attacks along the Gaza border, drawing Israeli strikes that killed 13 Palestinians, most of them gunmen, in December.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said at least 20 rockets and mortar bombs have landed in Israel since the start of 2011.

Lebanon faces ‘worst political crisis since 2008’
CTV News

Lebanon’s government falls as Hezbollah pulls out

Lebanon’s government collapsed Wednesday after Hezbollah and its allies resigned from the Cabinet in a dispute with Western-backed factions over upcoming indictments in the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

A U.N.-backed tribunal investigating the truck bombing that killed Hariri and 22 others is widely expected to name members of the Shiite militant group, which many fear could re-ignite sectarian violence that has erupted repeatedly in the tiny nation.

Hezbollah’s walkout ushers in the country’s worst political crisis since 2008 in one of the most volatile corners of the Middle East.

Lebanon’s 14-month-old government was an uneasy coalition linking bitter rivals: a Western-backed bloc led by Hariri’s son Saad and Hezbollah, which is supported by Syria and Iran and maintains an arsenal that far outweighs that of the national army.

Disputes over the tribunal have paralyzed the government for months, with Hezbollah denouncing the court as a conspiracy by the U.S. and Israel and urging the prime minister to reject any of its findings. But Hariri has refused to break co-operation with the Netherlands-based tribunal.

Now, the chasm between the two sides is deepening with Hezbollah accusing Hariri’s bloc of bowing to the West. Hezbollah’s ministers timed their resignations to coincide with Hariri’s meeting with President Barack Obama in Washington, forcing him to meet the American president as a caretaker prime minister.

Western governments have worked to strengthen the central government since Israel and Hezbollah fought a devastating 34-day war in 2006, but they also have expressed concern about the balance of power with the heavily armed militant group.

The U.S. classifies Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

What did Sarah Palin mean by chargining the media with “blood libel”?

Blood libel – what does it mean?

Sarah Palin’s use of the phrase “blood libel” could scarcely be more incendiary, especially in a religious country like the US.

The blood libel refers specifically to perhaps the most notorious verse in the Bible: Matthew 27:25, which has been used by some Christians to persecute Jews for nearly 2,000 years. That it should be used by an avowedly Christian politician about a Jewish one just takes crassness and insensitivity to a new level.

One can only hope that Palin, or her advisers, did not appreciate the context, or the history. The verse in Matthew refers to the scene during Christ’s trial before Pontius Pilate, before his execution, where the Roman governor, not being able to find fault with the accused man, publicly washed his hands of his fate, saying the crowd bore responsibility for his death.

The Gospel says the crowd shouted back: “His blood be on us and on our children,” a phrase taken by Christians for centuries to indicate that the Jewish people as a whole and for perpetuity bore direct responsibility for the crucifixion and were therefore fair game for persecution and extermination.

It has been used to justify pogroms, expulsions and discrimination and has fed Christian myths, such as those circulating in the middle ages, that Jews kidnapped and sacrificed Christian children to use their blood during Passover commemorations.

It took until the post-Holocaust period for organisations such as the Roman Catholic church to acknowledge the sensitivity of the phrase. Only in recent years has the famous Oberammergau passion play in southern Germany cut the words.

The Los Angeles Times story, “‘Blood libel’ has particular, painful meaning to Jewish people,” expands on the ‘blood libel’ meaning:
In saying her critics “manufactured a blood libel,” Sarah Palin deployed a phrase linked to the false accusations made for centuries against Jews, often to malign them as child murderers who coveted the blood of Christian children.
Blood libel has been a central fable of anti-Semitism in which Jews have been accused of using the blood of gentile children for medicinal purposes or to mix in with matzo, the unleavened bread traditionally eaten at Passover.
The spreading of the blood libel dates back to the Middle Ages — and perhaps even further — and those allegations have led to massacres of Jewish communities for just as long.
The term “blood libel” carries particular power in the Jewish community, though it has taken on other shades of meaning. Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said Wednesday that “while the term ‘blood libel’ has become part of the English parlance to refer to someone being falsely accused, we wish that Palin had used another phrase, instead of one so fraught with pain in Jewish history.”