Daily Archives: 01/23/2012

Fidler Interview: ‘Most NY9 Factors Not Present in My NY Senate Race’

NYC Councilman and NY State Senate candidate Lewis Fidler did not want to speculate in an interview with GestetnerUpdates.Com exactly why NY Assemblyman David Weprin lost the NY9 elections back in mid-September. However, many issues that were at play in NY9 such as Israel and Obama in general, “are not present in my Senate race,” says Fidler. Besides, many Democrats who supported Turner “are supporting Lue Fidler in this race,” said the candidate as in a third person.

When pressed on how he would respond if his opponents would indeed try to push the Obama-Israel issue into this race, Fidler said: “I am an independent Democrat. I speak my mind. I am not a big fan of [all what] my President has done in the Middle East. Not all good; not all bad. But I have a very strong pro-Israel record of my own… My position is that the United State is obligated to support any reasonable position that Government of Israel takes. I think to expect Israel to go back to 1967 borders is absurd… Let them make Israel an issue. I guarantee you, my support for Israel over the years is longer-standing and greater than my opponent’s.”

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Video: Romney Destroys Gingrich During Debate

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WTC Building May be SEVEN Instead of EIGHTY Floors Due to Lack of Tenants

Bloomberg News: Larry Silverstein is in discussions to cap 3 World Trade Center at seven floors if tenants aren’t found to take enough space for the building’s planned 80 stories, said two people familiar with the talks.

The discussions with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the lower Manhattan site, are based on a 2010 agreement that required the developer to have private financing and an anchor tenant in place, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. Meeting those conditions would qualify the project for financial support from the agency, as well as the city and state.

Finding one or more anchor tenants for at least 400,000 square feet (37,000 square meters), as required, has proved tougher than anticipated as New York’s financial companies reduce staff and cut back on their space needs. The tower, designed by Richard Rogers, the Pritzker Prize-winning British architect, is designed to have 2.8 million square feet, according to Silverstein Properties Inc.’s website.

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Live Debate: Watch the NBC Debate in Florida Live

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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Video: Senator Paul Speaks About TSA Encounter

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Gingrich Contract with Freddie Leaves Questions Unanswered

First Read: The consulting firm founded by Newt Gingrich on Monday night released a copy of its 2006 contract with Freddie Mac showing it was paid $300,000 to provide unspecified “consulting and related services” for the federally sponsored housing agency.

But a spokeswoman for the firm said it was unable to find an earlier contract dating to 1999 and renewed until 2002. The spokeswoman, Susan Meyers, also said the firm — the Center for Health Transformation, an arm of the Gingrich Group — could not say whether Gingrich or any of its employees produced any written reports for Freddie Mac as part of the nearly $1.8 million in consulting fees it was paid.

“I have no idea if there were any written reports,” she said. “This is all we are authorized to release.”

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Aid to Dem Senator Kerry Charged with Leaking Classified Gitmo Info

NBC Reports: John Kiriakou, who between 2009 and last year worked as an investigator for Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was charged by a federal grand jury with one count of violating the Intelligence Agencies Protection Act, two counts of violating the Espionage Act and one count of lying to the CIA about his actions in an effort to convince the agency to let him publish a book, “The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA’s War on Terror.”

Kiriakou turned himself into the FBI Monday morning. In an initial court appearance in Alexandria, Va., Monday afternoon, Kiriakou waived a preliminary hearing and was released on a $250,000 bond after surrendering his passport and agreeing to stay in the Washington area and not to contact any witnesses in the case.

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Boehner Says Redistricting Ensures GOP Will Have House for Decade

Politico: “I think it will be nearly impossible” for Democrats to win back the House in  November, Boehner said. “I think our freshmen members are doing a good job  preparing themselves for the upcoming election. I would also note that  redistricting across the country has helped those freshmen members and others in  tough seats who will now have better seats. So I think we’re in pretty strong  shape for the year ahead.” Boehner said he thought it “quite likely” the party  would maintain control of the House through at least 2020, “as long as we listen  to the American people and follow their will.”

With his party controlling much of the redistricting process this go round,  Boehner pointed to his home state of Ohio as an example of Republican success in  using line-drawing to bolster potentially vulnerable members by shoring up their  districts. Republicans hold 13 of Ohio’s 18 seats and Democrats have few  opportunities to make significant inroads there, Boehner argued.

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Rubio Says he is “Willing to do Almost Anything” to help the GOP12 Nominee

NewsMax Reports: “What I’ve said consistently is that I’m focused on being in the United States Senate,” Rubio said Monday on Miami’s NewsRadio 610 WIOD. “That’s where I think I can make the biggest difference and nothing has happened to change my mind in that regard.”

Without definitively saying yes or no, the senator instead said the radio host was “laying out a hypothetical which I don’t believe is going to happen.” Rubio often has been mentioned on the short list for the Number Two spot on a GOP presidential ticket.
“I don’t think there’s any individual that’s going to help the Republicans win,” Rubio said. “I think the nominee’s going to carry that.
“I am willing to basically do almost anything to help our nominee win,” he said. “That’s how important I think the race is.”
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Audio: Exclusive Interview with Councilman Lew Fidler

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Turner: No matter where the lines end up, I’ll be ready to compete

The Hill Reports: It would be hard to find a newer face in Congress than that of Rep. Bob Turner (R-N.Y.).

Still somewhat of a stranger even to the House freshmen, Turner triumphed in a political coup last fall to replace scandal-ridden former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D), whose Brooklyn-Queens seat had not been held by a Republican since 1923.

The news of Turner’s win was largely overshadowed in Washington by the Solyndra loan controversy and the launch of the House GOP’s fall agenda. In New York, however, stories ran for weeks.

Recently, in the spacious Rayburn office he inherited from Weiner, Turner said of politics: “I’m not really in this business.

“I had never even attended a political fundraiser before,” he told The Hill. “I sent checks to people — that’s it.”

Still, the lifelong Queens resident and retired media executive — he was a producer on “Jerry Springer” and “Baywatch” — was not totally green when he became the GOP nominee.

In 2010, he had mounted what he termed a “not exactly quixotic” run against the then-congressman, collecting 39 percent of the vote.

“In running media companies, you’re dealing with popular culture and popular psychology in a way that is not much different from politics,” he said.

“Still, we were well out of gas by those last two weeks of the [2010] campaign. When they really put the heat on, it didn’t turn out to be much of a contest.”

Soon enough, however, Turner saw he might not have to wait until 2012 for another opportunity.

“I watched [Weiner] on television and he said his [Twitter] account was hacked,” Turner said. “As soon as he said that, I knew where this was going … one way or another, he was not in good shape.”

Turner’s campaign hardened around his conservative approach to Israel. Specifically at issue was a May 2011 speech by President Obama calling for Israel to return to its pre-1967 borders.

“I was interested in painting my opponent (Democratic State Assemblyman David Weprin) as a supporter of the president’s policy, which he was,” Turner said.

The campaign effectively made the link, and as a result Turner landed a heady endorsement from former New York City Mayor Ed Koch.

Koch, a Jewish Democrat who is heavily pro-Israel, said that in endorsing Turner, he wanted to “send a message to the White House.”

Turner said the former mayor’s support helped sway the more secular Jewish community to his side.

A framed letter from Koch dated Sept. 2 — the day before the special election — hangs prominently in Turner’s office.

“It says: ‘I know you’re going to win,’” Turner said. “He was convinced, and so was I.”

Turner has continued to emphasize Israel during his first four months in the House.

During the most recent House recess, he traveled there as part of a delegation sponsored by an affiliate of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, visiting strategic sites and meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

“You’d think that with all of the problems they’re ringed with, it would affect their attitude,” he said.

“But at all levels, from the guy on the street to the government ministers, I saw confidence and optimism.”

He added that the troops and security checkpoints that defined the landscape a decade ago, during the second Palestinian uprising, have vanished.

“You could have been in Miami as you walk around,” he said.

Back in Washington on Wednesday, Turner voted with his GOP colleagues to pass a resolution disapproving Obama’s request for another increase in the debt ceiling.

But with the Senate expected to defeat it, the increase will likely take effect — even Turner called the vote “theater.”

“If you vote ‘no,’ [the debt limit] will be raised $1.2 trillion. If you vote ‘yes,’ it’ll be raised $1.2 trillion … this is just nonsense,” he said.

His two priorities now are to support future efforts for a federal balanced-budget amendment and to “be in the fight in ‘12.”

The second goal could prove challenging: Before the voters handed Turner his win, many believed the 9th district would be eliminated during the state’s redistricting process.

Those new maps have not been drawn, even in rough draft, but Turner said he is not concerned about the outcome.

“No matter where the lines end up, I’ll be ready to compete,” he said.

Read full Story at; The Hill

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Video of GOP Hits Menendez, Schumer, Obama on Bad Economy

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Video: FL’s Congressman West Defends Gingrich Against Race Accusations

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PIC of Bloodied Romney on (Non-Used) Businessweek Cover

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String of Successes… Russia to Deliver Combat Jets to Syria

CBS Reports: Russia has signed a contract to sell combat jets to Syria, a newspaper reported Monday, in apparent support for President Bashar Assad and open defiance of international condemnation of his regime’s bloody crackdown.

The respected business daily Kommersant, citing an unidentified source close to Russia’s Rosoboronexport state arms trader, said the $550-million deal envisions the delivery of 36 Yak-130 aircraft. A spokesman for Rosoboronexport refused to comment on the report.

If confirmed, the deal would cement Russian opposition to international efforts to put pressure on Assad’s regime over its attempts to snuff out the country’s uprising. The U.N. says more than 5,400 people have died over 10 months. The report of the sale comes the same day that Human Rights Watch called Russia’s backing of the Syrian regime “immoral.”

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UN Says Gitmo Under Obama Violates International Law

AP Via Arab News Reports: the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, says “the facility continues to exist and individuals remain arbitrarily detained — indefinitely — in clear breach of international law.”

Obama pledged to shutter the US Naval Base prison in Cuba in his annual address to Congress last year.

Pillay said Monday — ahead of Obama’s next annual speech Tuesday — that she is deeply disappointed the US government “has instead entrenched a system of arbitrary detention.”

Pillay said she also is “disturbed at the failure to ensure accountability for serious human rights violations, including torture, that took place.”

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Official WH You Tube Account Posts Obama Campaign Video Ad

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Israel Praises EU for Oil Embargo on Iran

AFP Reports: “Today the European Union decided to impose sanctions on Iran’s oil exports,” Netanyahu said at the start of a meeting of his ruling right-wing Likud party.

“I think it is a step in the right direction,” he said, while indicating it was “impossible” to know what the result of these sanctions would be.

“It is necessary to pressure Iran very hard and very quickly and we must examine these sanctions in the light of their results. Until today, Iran continues to create nuclear weapons unhindered.”

His remarks were made shortly after EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels agreed to slap an embargo on Iran’s oil exports as well as financial sanctions in a bid to put pressure on Tehran over its nuclear drive and push it to return to negotiations.

“This tightening of the sanctions and the tone adopted by the Europeans is important because it makes clear to the Iranians that it is unacceptable they continue their nuclear programme,” Israel’s Intelligence Minister Dan Meridor told army radio.

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Supreme Court Strikes Down an Obama-Supported Constraint on Civil Liberties

Reuters Via Yahoo Reports: The Supreme Court for the first time ruled on Monday that police attachment of a GPS device to monitor a suspect’s vehicle was a search protected by constitutional privacy rights, a test case involving new surveillance technology.

The high court’s ruling was a defeat for the Obama administration, which defended the use of global positioning system devices without a warrant and without a person’s knowledge as a legal way to monitor a vehicle on public streets.

The justices upheld a precedent-setting ruling by an appeals court that the police must first obtain a warrant to use a GPS device for an extended period of time to covertly follow a suspect.

The high court unanimously held the government’s placement of the GPS device to a vehicle and using the device to monitor the vehicle’s movement was covered by U.S. constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures of evidence

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Study: Fifth of Germans Harbor Anti-Semitism

Wash Post: The study — which draws on several different surveys and other research — puts Germans in the middle of the pack in Europe, with a German university survey showing more latent anti-Semitism in countries such as Poland, Hungary and Portugal, and less in Italy, Britain, the Netherlands and France.

The study released Monday said the surveys show that about one-fifth of Germans agree with anti-Semitic statements, such as “Jews have too much power in business.”

The study also showed that 90 percent of anti-Semitic crimes are committed by right-wing extremists, who number about 26,000 according to official estimates.

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VIDEO: Newt Gingrich – I’ll Help Israel Attack Iran

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Giffords Decided To Resign On Anniversary Of Tucson Shootings

Huff Post Reports: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) had been thinking about leaving Congress “for a while,” but it wasn’t until she returned to Tucson for the anniversary of the Jan. 8 shootings that nearly took her life that her decision to resign “came into focus,” says Giffords’ close friend, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.).

“Gabby doesn’t do anything halfway,” Wasserman Schultz told The Huffington Post. And for someone who puts “150 percent of herself into everything … there was a realization that while her recovery has been remarkable … progress is going to be a matter of years rather than months.”

There wasn’t something specific that happened that led to Giffords’ making up her mind, Wasserman Schultz said. Returning to Tucson a year after the shootings just “forced her to really reflect on what she should do.” And once Giffords decided that she wouldn’t run again in 2012, she figured it would be better to step down now to give Democratic party leaders more time to line up another candidate to replace her.

“This was such a quintessential Gabby Giffords decision. She could have decided to fill her term out and not run for re-election,” said Wasserman Schultz, who is also chairwoman of the Democratic National Campaign.

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NBC to Host Tonight’s FL Debate

The statement from NBC News Senior Vice President of Specials Mark Lukasiewicz:

“All four qualifying Republican presidential candidates have confirmed their attendance for Monday’s NBC News, National Journal, Tampa Bay Times debate. Florida has often been the stage for history in politics — we look forward to hosting a substantive and stimulating forum for the candidates to make their case to the voters in this crucial state and the whole country.”

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Mitt Romney’s Florida Ground Game

ABC Reports: The campaign has five paid full-time staffers in the state, a troop led by state director Molly Donlin, and there are three offices across the state, the campaign anchored out of the Tampa headquarters. They have county chairs in place in all 67 counties in Florida and have spread their staffers and volunteers across the state, with presence in Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, Miami and the Panhandle.

Television ads – three of them, to be exact – are on the air, and have been since Jan. 3, and a fourth, in Spanish, is also running. Mailers are also being circulated. Staffers have been hosting near-daily phone banking sessions since September and have made contact with the list the list of residents registered to receive absentee ballots, a list made public by the Secretary of State.

The Romney campaign has also picked up some high-level endorsements in the state, including Attorney General Pam Bondi, who is now a national adviser for the campaign.

U.S. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mario Diaz-Balart and his brother and former U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart endorsed Romney in November, and have since been chief surrogates working with voters in South Florida.

With nearly 200,000 absentee ballots already cast, a Romney aide said that it is their aggressive outreach to these voters that differentiates them from the Gingrich campaign, which outranks the Romney campaign in the numbers of staffers – 14 – and campaign offices – seven.

Romney himself has also put in time in Florida.

He held four tele-townhalls with prospective absentee ballots while on the road in Iowa and New Hampshire, making a specific push to lock in early voters as the other primary states’ voting was underway.

He’s held 11 campaign events in Florida since June, ranging from informal round tables to his Tampa headquarter opening to September.

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Immigrant Kills Three in FL Following Obama Halt of Haiti Deportations

Miami Herald Reports: When burglar Kesler Dufrene became a twice-convicted felon in 2006, a Bradenton judge shipped him to prison for five years. And because of his convictions, an immigration judge ordered Dufrene deported to his native Haiti.

That never happened.

Instead, when Dufrene’s state prison term was up, Miami immigration authorities in October 2010 released him from custody. Two months later, North Miami police say, he slaughtered three people, including a 15-year-old girl in a murder case that remains as baffling today as it did the afternoon the bodies were discovered.

DNA on a rifle found inside the house and cellphone tracking technology later linked Dufrene to the Jan. 2, 2011, slayings.

But North Miami detectives never got to interrogate him. Just 18 days after the murders, Dufrene shot and killed himself when he was cornered by Manatee County sheriff’s deputies in Bradenton after an unrelated break-in and shooting there.

The episode is a black eye for U.S. authorities, who by law could not detain Dufrene indefinitely after the Obama administration ordered a temporary halt of deportations to the island nation. The deportations were halted because of the carnage wrought by Haiti’s January 2010 earthquake.

“Because of the moratorium on removals to Haiti in effect when Dufrene came into ICE custody, his removal to Haiti was not likely in the reasonably foreseeable future,” an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman said in a statement Friday.

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