By Jordain Carney
Sabahi has received several political endorsements but his chances of beating the powerful Sisi are slight
Last week concluded the final election of President Obama’s tenure that didn’t involve replacing him. After seven years in office and as many elections, the Democratic Party has taken a beating worse than the Republican Party took under George W. Bush.
On nearly every level of government, Democrats have lost more seats under Mr. Obama than under any other two-term modern president dating back to Dwight Eisenhower. (This includes the dual presidencies of John F. Kennedy/Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon/Gerald Ford.)
Under Mr. Obama, Democrats have lost 13 net Senate seats, 69 House seats, 11 governorships, a whopping 913 state legislature seats and 30 state legislature chambers, according to analysis from the Washington Post.
That makes Mr. Obama the overseer of the biggest loss in Senate seats, House seats and state legislature seats of any of the past seven two-term presidencies, the second biggest loser of state legislature chambers (Mr. Nixon/Mr. Ford lost 31 to Mr. Obama’s 30) and fourth biggest loser of governorships (tied with Bill Clinton).
……………………Paul Ryan was sworn in as speaker of the House………………..
Paul Ryan was sworn in as the 54th speaker of the House. He remarked that, to him, the House represents the best of America, but that it is broken and needs fixing. USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — Newly elected Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday it is time to fix a “broken” House and begin solving the nation’s problems instead of adding to them.
“The American people make this country work, and the House should work for them,” Ryan said in a speech on the House floor after his election. “What a relief it would be to the American people if we finally got our act together. What a weight off their shoulders.”
Ryan was elected the 54th speaker of the House as his colleagues looked to the Wisconsin Republican to help unite his fractious party and end the constant crises that have come to dominate the chamber in recent years.
He received 236 of the 432 votes cast. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., received 184. Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Fla., got 9 votes. A handful of other people got a total of three votes.
Image Via Murray Energy Corp
The coal company Murray Energy agreed to pay a $5,000 fine for failing to disclose it funded anti-Obama signs during the 2012 election cycle, according to a decision by the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
The FEC ruled Friday that Murray Energy will be fined for not disclosing payments for signs saying “STOP the WAR on COAL — FIRE OBAMA” in the months leading up to the 2012 election. The FEC investigation found that Murray Energy had paid $22,000 for anti-Obama signs, but did not include a disclaimer on them as required by federal election laws.
Murray energy argued it didn’t know it had to disclose paying for the signs, adding that the signs could “reasonably be read to primarily advocate a policy result longtime publicized” by the company. Murray also argued it stopped distributing the signs once a complaint against them was filed, and the company noted it hadn’t included a disclaimer because other similar signs did not have one.
October 20, 2015, 02:51 pm
By Jordain Carney
Senate Democrats on Tuesday blocked legislation to crack down on cities that don’t comply with federal immigration law.
Senators voted 54-45 on a measure to end debate on legislation from Sen. David Vitter. Sixty votes were needed to overcome the procedural hurdle and move toward a vote on the bill itself.
Two Democrats broke rank and sided with Republicans in the vote.
The Louisiana Republican’s legislation would have limited federal grants to so-called “sanctuary cities” and increased penalties for undocumented immigrants who reenter the United States illegally after being deported.
Vitter argued that Democrats misunderstand the legislation, saying that “there are a lot of myths about our bill versus the facts.”
“We have several myths versus facts as part of the record, and I urge everyone, starting with our colleagues, Democrats and Republicans, to study that carefully,” he added. “This is an important issue. Sanctuary cities are a real problem, and we need to fix them.”
The issue of sanctuary cities captured the political spotlight in July after the death of 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle, allegedly at the hands of an illegal immigrant who had already been deported five times.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) referenced Steinle’s shooting ahead of the vote, pressuring Democrats to “put compassion before left-wing ideology today.”
But Democrats were intent on blocking Vitter’s legislation from moving forward, suggesting that it undercut law enforcement and was an unacceptable substitute for a broader immigration reform proposal.
“Today’s vote is nothing but a political show vote. Senator Vitter knows his legislation has no chance of passing the Senate or being signed into law,” Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said ahead of the vote.
Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) also derided the bill on Monday, calling it “vile” and the “Donald Trump Act,” after the 2016 GOP front-runner.
Cairo (AFP) – One party — the banned Muslim Brotherhood — will be conspicuously absent from ballot papers Sunday when Egypt’s voters head to the polls for long-delayed parliamentary elections.
What had been Egypt’s main opposition group for decades fell foul of the authorities after army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 and was elected to succeed him last year.
Since overthrowing the senior Brotherhood figure, Sisi has overseen a deadly crackdown on the group in which hundreds were killed and thousands jailed, including most of the group’s leaders.
The Brotherhood’s disappearance from the public political scene is a far cry from a group, then officially banned but tolerated, which fielded candidates in parliamentary elections under former president Hosni Mubarak.
Then, campaigning under its own name, the Brotherhood took a whopping 44 percent of seats in the first free democratic elections following Mubarak’s ouster in 2011.
That parliament was dissolved in June 2012, but the Brotherhood’s popularity shone through days later when Morsi, a civilian, was elected, putting an end to six decades of presidents coming from military ranks.
But while it has been wrested from Egypt’s political arena, analysts say this is unlikely to be the last voters see of the Brotherhood.
“The Brotherhood will stay outside the political game as long as President Sisi is in power,” said Hazem Hosny, professor of political science at Cairo University.
“The Brotherhood and the regime have gone too far in their confrontation.”
Meanwhile, Sisi supporters are widely expected to sweep the parliamentary elections.
– History of repression –
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
The vote ran 39,489 to 20,432 in favor of the ban, and it sends a clear signal that the People of Jackson County, Oregon — a largely agricultural area of the country — absolutely do not want genetically engineered crops to be growing anywhere near them. (Click here to see county election results.)
This is on top of the recent victory in Vermont where lawmakers passed a mandatory GMO labeling law that requires foods to be honestly labeled with their GMO content. (The evil biotech industry and its Grocery Manufacturers of America front group plant to sue Vermont to keep consumers in the dark.)
This ordinance in Oregon requires everyone to “destroy” all genetically engineered plants except those grown under indoor laboratory conditions (i.e. those which are safely isolated from the wild). This will allow scientists to continue to study GMOs without risking the lives of everyone else in the process.
Abdel Fatah al-Sisi moved one step closer to Egypt‘s presidency on Sunday as nominations closed, leaving the retired army chief and the leftist Hamdeen Sabahi as the only two high-profile candidates in the race.
Sisi is widely expected to easily win the election, which will take place on 26-27 May. He has more support than any other candidate, as well as an explicit mandate from the army, and he receives favourable coverage from most state and private media.
Egypt’s interim government, installed by Sisi last July, has portrayed the presidential race as a sign that the country is back on the road to democracy. “It is a very important step,” Egypt’s foreign minister, Nabil Fahmy, told the Guardian, calling the electoral process “extremely free and fair”.
“Once we get it done, we will then move into the parliamentary elections which will help us finish the roadmap [to democracy] – and we look forward to rebuilding our future,” Fahmy said.
But among rights activists and opposition politicians there are concerns about the integrity of the poll. By the most conservative estimate at least 16,000 mainly Islamist dissidents have been arrested in an ongoing crackdown on dissent. At least three high-profile candidates from the 2012 presidential campaign have boycotted the race, complaining about the absence of free expression in Egypt, while the ousted president Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood was banned by court order this week from taking part.
A late challenger – the flamboyant football-club chairman Mortada Mansour – dropped out on Saturday citing a divine vision, after a brief and bizarre campaign in which he promised to rip up the Camp David accords and to force non-believers to practise atheism in their bathrooms.
Khaled Ali, a labour lawyer, the Islamist Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, and Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, all dropped out in recent weeks – with Aboul Fotouh highlighting the impossibility of campaigning in an environment where opposition is portrayed as treason.
Dozens of activists campaigning against Egypt’s new constitution in January were arrested while putting up campaign posters, and colleagues complained they were ignored by most media networks. Withdrawn candidates said they feared a similar scenario in the presidential poll.
When Sisi announced his intention to run for office last month, state television gave him a prime-time television slot to make a speech directly to camera. It was a privilege not afforded to Sabahi, who was allowed only a short state-made documentary about his career – a taste of what may be to come, analysts said.
“If we are talking about these elections really being fair and free, all the candidates should have access to equal representation within the media,” said HA Hellyer, Egypt analyst at the Royal United Services Institute. “And I just don’t think that’s going to happen unless things drastically change in the next four or five weeks.”
On Saturday a privately-owned channel announced that it would not air any shows by Egypt’s best-known political satirist Bassem Youssef, a prominent Sisi critic, until after the election – in order “to avoid influencing Egyptian voters’ orientation”.
Egyptian presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi’s campaign denied remarks attributed to him in an audio recording in which a person with a voice that sounds like his says he would put former army chief Abdel Fattah Sisi on trial for the deaths of hundreds of protesters. (Ahmed Gomaa / Associated Press / April 22, 2014)
CAIRO — The only candidate running for president against Egypt’s former military chief, Abdel Fattah Sisi, has reportedly said that if elected he would put Sisi on trial in connection with the deaths of hundreds of protesters.
“I don’t treat Sisi as a criminal, but I plan to bring him to court …. When I do this, I aim to heal wounds without opening up new confrontations,” candidate Hamdeen Sabahi was quoted as saying by the Egyptian news outlet Youm7 on Friday.
Sabahi’s campaign denied the comments were his. But Youm7 posted an audio recording of a voice that sounded much like the candidate. According to Youm7, Sabahi was responding to a question over transitional justice in case he wins the presidency. He also said anyone proven responsible for demonstrators’ deaths since the 2011 uprising against autocrat Hosni Mubarak should be held accountable.
Sabahi has received several political endorsements but his chances of beating the powerful Sisi are slight
Leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi officially submitted his bid Saturday to run for Egypt’s presidency, making him the second candidate for next month’s election alongside former army chief Abdel Fattah el-Sisi who is widely expected to win.
The election is due to take place on May 26-27.
Sabahi, who heads a political alliance called the Popular Current, created after the 2012 presidential elections, was a member of parliament during ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak’s years in office and came third in the election won by Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2012.
Sabahi submitted the required documents to the presidential election committee after gathering 31,100 signatures. The required number is 25,000.
A third candidate, controversial figure Mortada Mansour, announced Saturday that he would not run in the upcoming elections, after having declared his candidacy less than a week ago, Egyptian media reported.
CAIRO — An Egyptian lawyer and TV personality who declared days ago that he was running for president pulled out of the race Saturday, and state media quoted him as saying he had received a sign from God that victory belonged to former army chief Abdel Fattah Sisi.
Mortada Mansour, known for his outspoken style and sometimes eccentric views, also took a parting swipe at the only Sisi opponent left in the race, leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi, the Ahram website reported.
Mansour, who had announced his candidacy last weekend, has called for the abrogation of the Camp David accords that led to peace between Egypt and Israel, has threatened to go to war with Ethiopia over water rights, and has urged a ban on Facebook and Twitter.
Sisi, leader of the popularly supported military coup that ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi nearly 10 months ago, is heavily favored to win the presidential poll, to be held May 26 and 27.
The deadliest incident on Monday occurred in the Kurdish populated town of Khanaqin where 30 people were killed and 50 others injured after a bombing targeted a political gathering.
People had gathered to watch television footage of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani casting his ballot in Germany.
“Suddenly we heard a big explosion. I wanted to turn my car around to go back home, but I couldn’t because people were running towards me. Most of their clothes were covered in blood,” a witness said.
According to reports, 27 members of the Iraqi security forces were also killed in a series of bomb attacks across the country on the same day.
by Staff Writers
Baghdad (AFP) April 28, 2014
Iraqi forces cast ballots ahead of wider poll
Baghdad (AFP) April 27, 2014 – Iraqi soldiers and policemen vote Monday ahead of the country’s first national election since US troops left with worsening sectarian ties and fears the country is slipping into all-out conflict.Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, lambasted by critics for allegedly consolidating power and targeting minority groups, is bidding for a third term in Wednesday’s polls with Iraqis frustrated over basic services, rampant corruption and high unemployment.The month-long campaign has seen Baghdad and other cities plastered with posters and decked out in bunting, as candidates have taken to the streets, staged loud rallies and challenged each other in angry debates.Attacks on candidates, election workers and political rallies have cast a shadow over the election, and parts of the country that have been out of government control for months will not see any ballots cast.Many shops in central Baghdad have been boarded up and authorities have announced a week’s public holidays to try to bolster security for the election.
Iraqis living outside of the country began voting at overseas polling centres on Sunday.
Along with members of the security forces, hospital and prison staff will also cast their ballots on Monday ahead of wider polling on April 30.
Although voters have a long list of grievances, from poor electricity and sewerage services to pervasive graft and difficulties securing jobs, to say nothing of near-daily violence, the election has centred around Maliki and his efforts to retain power.
His opponents, who span the communal spectrum, accuse him of shoring up his power base, while minority Sunnis in particular say the Shiite premier discriminates against them.
Maliki contends that foreign interference is behind deteriorating security and complains that he has been saddled with a unity government of groups that snipe at him in public and block his legislative efforts.
But according to analysts and diplomats, with a fractious and divided opposition and no clear replacement, he remains the frontrunner in the first national election since 2010, and the first since US troops withdrew in December 2011.
No single party is likely to win an absolute majority, however, and as in previous elections, coalition talks are likely to take months.
With a budget languishing in parliament, crucial reforms on the back burner and a hamstrung private sector, prospects for Iraq’s economy after Wednesday’s election hinge heavily on the oil factor.
Iraq has some of the world’s largest deposits of oil and gas and aims to boost energy production dramatically, but a slow-moving bureaucracy and poor infrastructure are holding it back.
Complicating things further is Baghdad’s long-running dispute with the energy-rich autonomous northern Kurdish region, which has sought to sign deals with foreign firms and export without the express permission of the central government.
Any new government formed after Wednesday’s parliamentary election will have its hands full with these and other challenges.
Crude oil accounts for more than 90 percent of exports and government revenues, and 70 percent of gross domestic product, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Despite calls for Iraq to do more to diversify its economy, oil still fuels the country’s attempts to rebuild after decades of conflict.
“What Iraq should be focusing on is actually developing something more diverse as an economy that’s less dependent on oil production,” said Ayham Kamel, Middle East and North Africa Director for Eurasia Group consultancy.
“The challenge here is, given the security environment, it’s very difficult to achieve that.”
Only one percent of Iraq’s workforce is employed in the oil sector but the industry indirectly supports countless others, with revenues in particular helping to pay salaries in the public sector.
Meanwhile private firms, outside the oil sector, often complain they are hamstrung by an ageing banking system, with few loans available and outdated laws that make it hard to set up or maintain a business.
Rampant corruption and soaring costs due to electricity shortages and deteriorating security also complicate running a business in Iraq, which is mired in its worst period of bloodshed in years.
“Iraq’s economy suffers from structural weaknesses,” said a World Bank report.
It noted that although the oil sector was delivering strong growth, overall economic expansion “has not been broad-based enough to make major inroads on poverty and exclusion.”
Militants on Monday targeted polling stations across much of Iraq and a crowd of Kurds jubilantly dancing on the street as soldiers and security forces cast ballots two days ahead of parliamentary elections, officials said. The attacks, including a suicide bombing northeast of Baghdad, left at least 46 people dead.
The wave of attacks was an apparent attempt to derail the balloting process and discourage the rest of the country’s 22 million registered voters from going to the polls on Wednesday in the first nationwide elections since the 2011 withdrawal of U.S. forces.
The early balloting for police and soldiers is meant to free up the 1 million-strong military and security forces so they can protect polling stations and voters on election day.
More than 9,000 candidates are vying for 328 seats in parliament, which is widely expected to be won by an alliance led by Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is likely to seek a third four-year term in office.
The day’s worst attack took place in the Kurdish town of Khanaqin, 140 kilometers (87 miles) northeast of Baghdad close to the Iranian border. A suicide bomber walked toward a crowd of Kurds performing a traditional dance and blew himself up, killing at least 25 and injuring 35, many of them in critical condition.
The Kurds were celebrating the appearance on TV of Iraq’s ailing President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd who is being treated in Berlin since December 2012 following a stroke. The nearly 80-year-old Talabani was seen sitting in a wheelchair smiling and waving his index finger, stained purple, flanked by clapping relatives. Few details have been released about the severity of Talabani’s illness.
No one claimed responsibility for the attack, which bore the hallmarks of Sunni Arab militants.
Khanaqin is in Diyala province, a region where Arabs and Kurds context territory and where Sunni militants target Shiites and Kurds.
Iraq is experiencing a surge in sectarian violence, with Sunni militants increasingly chiefly targeting security forces, army troops and members of the nation’s Shiite majority. The resurgence of the bloodletting, which nearly tore Iraq apart in 2006 and 2007, underscores the precarious politics of a democratic, but splintered nation.
It also mirrors the three-year-old conflict in neighboring Syria, where the civil war pits forces loyal to President Bashar Assad whose powerbase stems from followers of a Shiite offshoot sect, against mostly Sunni Arab rebels whose ranks are dominated by Islamists and militants from al-Qaida-inspired or linked groups. Iraqi Shiite militiamen fight on the side of Assad’s forces.
Voters in Wednesday’s polls are widely expected to cast ballots along sectarian and ethnic lines.
But balloting will not take place in parts of the vast and mostly Sunni Anbar province west of Baghdad, where al-Qaida spin-off militants control parts of two cities, including the provincial capital, Ramadi.
Beside army troops and police, also voting on Monday were hospital patients, medical staff and detainees.
Abroad, Iraqi expatriates in more than 20 countries will also be able to cast ballots for a second day.
Authorities, meanwhile, announced the closure of Iraq’s air space, saying it will not reopen until after the polls close on Wednesday evening. Already, the government has decreed a weeklong national holiday to coincide with the elections, extending a previously announced three-day break. Such moves were common in past elections, chiefly to empty the streets and allow security forces faster access to attack sites.