Saturday, July 19, 2014

The question is ... how badly do we want to avoid more war?

TBR-Jon Soltz Iraq War Veteran & Chairman/VoteVets.org 
As President Obama addressed the graduating class of 2014 at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, he said "We must broaden our tools to include diplomacy and development." 

His words are something to consider as diplomats gather in Vienna, Austria to hammer out a long-term agreement to ensure Iran never has the ability to develop a nuclear weapon. 

They have until July 20th to work out a deal, or extend the process, but several Senators are already furiously working to derail the effort. 

They need to hear from us today: 

Join tens of thousands of veterans and military family members and sign our petition calling on the U.S. Senate to allow the diplomatic process to work with Iran. 

Sadly, it's many of the same discredited neoconservative voices pushing for harsher sanctions that will trigger a new arms race in the region. 

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff to United States Secretary of State Colin Powell, said "To a soldier, the phrase 'seeking a diplomatic solution' is sweet music." 

And if the diplomatic talks between Washington and Tehran fall apart, we'll have the opportunity to talk about which sanctions to reinstate or intensity. 

But for now, we should all hope that those efforts succeed. 

Tell Congress: Give Diplomacy with Iran a Chance. 

http://action.votevets.org/iran-diplomacy 

The question is ... how badly do we want to avoid more war? 

Thanks for standing with VoteVets on this issue. 

Jon Soltz 
Iraq War Veteran & Chairman 
VoteVets.org 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Nearly 600,000 Americans Ask Senators to Support “21st Century Glass-Steagall Act”

TBR-Washington D.C., Public Citizen/Americans for Financial Reform
At the Capitol this afternoon [July 9], Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) received petitions in which nearly 600,000 Americans call for action on the 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act. This bipartisan bill, introduced by Senator Warren along with Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), and Angus King (I-Maine), would address the problem of Wall Street banks that have become too complicated, too conflicted and too powerful, as well as simply too big.
The petitions, gathered by Credo, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Public Citizen, Americans for Financial Reform, Dr. Mitchell Gershten (a private citizen), and MoveOn.org, were also delivered to the offices of all the other Senators, asking them to support the bill. The 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act would reinstate the principle that used to separate commercial banks, which enjoy the benefits of deposit insurance and other forms of public support, from the high-risk world of investment banks and hedge funds.
“The original Glass-Steagall Act served our country well,” said Lisa Donner, Executive Director of Americans for Financial Reform. “It laid the foundation for an unprecedented half century without financial panics or crises. Just as important, it contributed to a more right-sized banking system and one more focused on serving the economy and the society as a whole, rather than on enriching itself at others’ expense.”
“When banks are allowed to continue gambling with our taxpayer-insured deposits, we are setting up our economy for another meltdown,” said Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “Real banking protections should not be a thing of the past.  Going back to a clear Glass-Steagall separation of commercial and investment banking is the easiest way to make sure greedy banksters don’t put our fragile, still recovering economy back on the rocks.”
“Not a single Wall Street banker has gone to jail for crimes that caused the financial crisis, the least Congress can do is make sure these bankers aren’t gambling with our money,” said Becky Bond, CREDO’s political director. “It’s long past time to reinstitute Glass-Steagall.”
“Across the nation, people of all ideological stripes want more Wall Street reform and accountability — not less,” said Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. “We were proud to start working with Elizabeth Warren while she was still a candidate on writing a 21st Century Glass Steagall Act. This bill is a huge down payment on the reform we need.”
“Reining in Wall Street’s recklessness and the threat it poses to the whole economy is a galvanizing cause for MoveOn members,” said Ilya Sheyman, executive director of MoveOn Political Action. “It’s an issue that has also fueled Sen. Warren’s meteoric rise as a champion of hard-working people under siege by powerful financial interests. We thank her for accepting the petitions of MoveOn members and allies, and for joining with Senators McCain, Cantwell, and King in sponsoring this bill. If lawmakers truly oppose Wall Street bailouts and ‘too big to fail’ banks, they need to walk the talk and join us to support this common sense legislation.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Jim Lardner, Americans for Financial Reform, 202-466-1854 / jim@ourfinancialsecurity.org
Karilyn Gower, Public Citizen, 202-588-7779 / kgower@publicitizen.org
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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Federalist papers and the election of 2000

TBR-Leighton Bradford, Editor-in-Chief

The Federalist Papers structured the discourse of a new republic. The idle rhetoric of political life haunts the corridors of true debate. Were these words reduced to parchment a precursor to the U.S. Constitution? An ideal form of government responds to the needs of the individual. The most recent Presidential election places implicit doubt, as to the parameters of appropriate checks and balances. Within Federalist paper No. 51, its continued theme, seems to focus on the powers afforded to "Supreme Executives".

The presidential election (2000) weakened the state, by allowing a branch of government, to exercise a mandate in strict violation of separating principles. Further; "In order to lay a due foundation for that separate and distinct exercise of the different powers of government". Expressed eloquently and clear as to the fundamental safeguard working towards a non-abuse of power. Each department should not only perform its obvious task, however, limit the powers of the other branches. Balance does not come with vague procedure and apathetic rhetoric.

Would the framers of the Federalist Papers identify with our current government? I was intrigued with the depth of understanding, as it related to the lower echelons of control. The discussion even dealt with the division of departments beneath the initial organizational hub. Describing plans of actions, involving scenarios within these entities. A sort of sub-routine of departmental precautions. The evolution of our government has been one of partisan agenda and set precedents. The Federalist paper No. 51 gives insight into this supposed evolution.

Vice-President Al Gore's honorable acquiescing may have prevented factional turmoil. James Madison predicted the counter productive nature of men.  The Federalist Papers were a highly refined draft. Vice-President Gore refused to litigate the nefarious precepts of the 2000 election. This act may have been just as crucial as President Lincoln's emancipation proclamation. 


 Perhaps it is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged against provisions against danger, real or pretended from abroad. – Letter to Thomas Jefferson (1798-05-13), James Madison.  
If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. – Federalist Paper No. 51 (1788-02-06), James Madison, photo courtesy federalist papers project.

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Ultimate Goal of Humanity


 
TBR-Leighton Bradford, Editor-in-Chief
Most agree civilization must embrace a collective initiative responding to socio-economic deprivation. Social deprivation or a system supporting poverty should not be embraced. Prosperity and parity should be the ultimate goal of humanity. Commerce and mercantilism must coincide with a healthy ecology. Human existence depends upon the maintenance of a healthy eco-system. We are, but an intricate part of the environment. The aforementioned statement will vindicate the oppressed and abused. A suggested expression to the powers that be, for many matters not. The anticipated counter is an identified Utopia! There is no such place on earth. “Am I my brothers’ keeper?” Ultimately YES!

            Free Enterprise becomes a guarded treasure when administered properly. I understand the burdens of men. There must be parity along all lines of human endeavor. An unrealistic assessment of economic globalization; embarks on economic nationalism and ethnocentrism. Excuse me for one moment scholars? War has been declared on the working man. Unless our nations leaders adjust the financial bias within society, all else is trumped, and social degradation is accepted. Are we witnessing Pax Americana? The United States of America’s bottom line, must be the lack of jobs and opportunity? Bureaucracies of government should streamline collaborative functions.

Business owner’s world-wide; should create a trade and barter initiative! It must reflect the rights of labor. The resulting covenant would shore up a workers wage, and apply pressure, towards the Sino attack on the common man. The right to work laws should be rescinded. These laws undermine collective bargaining and the ability for the average worker to negotiate a livable wage. Labor must be realistic when negotiating contractual obligations. Labor should never price itself out of the market. The TPP trade iniative will do no more to open markets within the US, than the NAFTA measure.    


Power concedes nothing without demand. The leadership within grass roots organizations must perform an intricate part of balance and fairness.  America continues to accept the worlds humbled masses, but at what cost to the U.S. citizens already here? Outsourcing or flooding markets with cheap goods and service is an attack on our nation’s security. A bifurcated approach towards at-will employment and collective bargaining will assist all involved. Technology, efficient means of production, veteran skill set, and the multitude of displaced workers re-entry into the workforce, will promote economic growth. Purposeful lending to small business owners will stimulate the market. The WTO, the Federal Reserve, and IMF at times, supplant financial stability. Building wealth should not be for a contrived, well trained, manipulator of markets. There should be stiffer penalties associated with financial industry wrong doing. The FTC has to fight to end the saturation of the aforementioned malice. Then ask the people to accept austerity measures. Power, wealth and opportunity, must not be concentrated within the hands of a few individuals. This effort will stave off the american bastille.



 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

I'm a blind student, and I need your help


TBR-Jamie Principado, Special to TBR
As a blind high schooler, I couldn't just apply to my top colleges -- I had to make sure that classes were going to be made accessible for me, and I was excited to attend Florida State University because they had a great program for training teachers of the blind. 
But when I started classes at FSU, I quickly found out that the school didn't have the accessible tools I needed to learn and complete all my work. My online classes weren't compatible with my screen reader and I couldn't access materials in any of my math or biology classes. I struggled for three years, and eventually decided to change schools.
I sued FSU for failing to meet state and federal disability laws, but I don't want other blind students like me to experience what I had to go through. I started a petition on Change.org asking Congress to pass the TEACH Act to make sure that all students with disabilities have equal access to learning. Click here to sign my petition.
When I approached the administration at FSU about the inaccessible materials, they suggested I try an “easier” major instead of trying to help me and other students with disabilities. I felt like the school was punishing me instead of trying to help me learn. 
That's why I believe in the TEACH Act. While federal laws require colleges to only deploy accessible materials, they were written before technology became part of the classroom, so schools like FSU have no direction for how the laws apply to students like me. The TEACH Act creates much-needed guidelines illustrating how schools can provide instructional technology that is usable for students with disabilities.
I believe that public support of the TEACH Act through my petition will show members of Congress that constituents around the country believe there is an urgent need for this. But they won't do it without you. 
Thank you for your support. 
Jamie Principado

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Common Cause Leadership Supports Open Internet-Court Hands Out Major FCC Ruling

TBR-Common Cause Press Release
I'm sure you saw the news stories this week. A court on Tuesday gutted a federal telecom policy that guaranteed free speech online. Internet Service Providers are now free to make consumers pay more to access certain sites.

The silver lining is that the Court made clear the Federal Communications Commission can fix this by writing better rules to protect consumers. But they need to hear from us.

The time to act is now. You can still add your name to our petition to restore net neutrality.

Thanks for all you do,

Robert Reich
and the rest of the team at Common Cause
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Bad news. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals just struck down the Federal Communications Commission's Open Internet ("net neutrality") rules that guarantee free speech online.

The upshot of the decision is that Internet Service Providers like Verizon and Comcast now have permission to censor access to the sites and services you rely on every day.

This absolutely cannot stand -- sign our petition today!


This could be the end of the Internet as we know it. Broadband may become like cable television -- with popular sites like Facebook and Netflix in higher-priced tiers.

Fortunately, the FCC can fix this mess -- today. The court's ruling allows the FCC to write strong new rules that will withstand legal challenge and protect Internet users. Join us today in calling on the FCC to get it right this time.

Sign our petition to the FCC today and tell them to protect the Open Internet!

Thanks for all you do,

Todd O'Boyle
and the rest of the team at Common Cause


Media and Democracy

The media's failure to provide diverse viewpoints and unbiased information is undermining the strength of our democracy. Common Cause is working to ensure that the media meet their obligations to serve the public by promoting diversity, accessibility, and accountability among media corporations and the government agencies that regulate the media.


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Common Cause is a national nonpartisan organization with chapters in 35 states. Our mailing address is 1133 19th Street NW, 9th Floor, Washington, DC 20036. Our phone number is (202) 833-1200.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

President V. Putin Comments On Sochi Olympics


Ahead of the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, the Russian President gave an interview to reporters from BBC, ABC News, CCTV, Rossiya-1, Channel One, and Around the Rings. The interview was recorded in Sochi on January 17.

TBR-Russian President Vladimir Putin Press Release
 OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: It seems to me that you know everything about the coming Olympics and I wonder if there’s anything else I can tell you. Or, maybe, you believe that you know everything and I would hardly be able to make you change your mind. But a chance still exists and I am taking this opportunity to talk to you with great pleasure.
ED HULA (translated from Russian): I have been traveling to this city for eight years and I can see some serious changes here – a whole new cluster has been built in the mountains with sports arenas, stadiums, various tracks and a biathlon range. A great deal of money has been put into Sochi to host the Olympic Games – the estimates put the figure at $50 billion. But we did not have a chance to know the exact figure yet and to understand how much the Olympics cost. Well, how much are they? And are they worth that money? What legacy will the Olympics leave?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: The overall cost of the Olympics has been announced; it is 214 billion rubles. You can calculate the dollar amount by dividing this figure by 33, which is the current exchange rate.
But that is not what I want to tell you here. I want to begin with what we had in plans even before the Olympics, back in 2006/07 when we adopted the Sochi Development Master Plan. Looking at the map of the Russian Federation, one can see a country covering mostly northern areas; today more than 70 percent of our territory is or can be referred to as northern, if not the Far North. We have a rather small warm Black sea strip in the South and – to tell the truth – just a few regions with a hospitable warm climate.
And so far we have had no modern resorts that Russian people could enjoy throughout that huge area. Today we are at the top of the list of those traveling on holiday abroad. As far as I know, Russians are the first among tourists going to Turkey; last year three million Russians visited that country, although its climate zone is almost the same as that of the Black sea region. Therefore, we have had an important task to develop the infrastructure in this region of the Russian Federation. And again, to this end we have adopted a special program. But as usual – this is something that is true both for Russia and any other country in the world – there is not enough money to deal with what seems to be of the first importance. And when it comes to the resort development activity, which is never seen as a priority, there is never enough money. Therefore, in fact our goal was to address several tasks at the same time.
The first and the most important one was to develop the south of the country, and primarily its infrastructure. And – to my mind – we have made a real progress here since a completely new transport, energy and environment infrastructure has been set up. In terms of current emissions into the atmosphere and those of 2007, today, when the project is nearly over, the air pollution is half its 2007 level. We have achieved that result by using a more eco-friendly fuel in electric power sector, building two new gas pipelines and eight or nine electrical substations, cleaning up two constantly fuming dumps in the Greater Sochi area, and building a new transport infrastructure. All those measures helped ease the environmental burden. Let’s admit that it is crucial for a resort.
The second task we focused on was to re-establish training bases for high-ranking athletes. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia lost nearly all its training facilities in regions of middle-altitude mountains. All of them are not ours anymore; they are either Georgian or Armenian, or Kazakhstani, I mean the Medeu skating rink.
It is shameful and embarrassing but our ice skating professionals had to hold the Russian national championship in Berlin due to the lack of adequate skating rinks. Then, we also lost all facilities related to ski jumping. Today we have built a few centres not only in Sochi, but the two new Sochi ski jumps are absolutely unique from a technical point of view; for purposes of Olympic training we have also built the most sophisticated ski jumps in some other regions.
Finally, the third task was to create a new mountain cluster in order to transform this part of the Russian Federation into a resort, which can be used in any season, in winter or in summer. I think that we have accomplished this task as well. Therefore, if we consider only the preparations for the Olympics, they cost 214 billion, as just 15 sport facilities have been built, while most of the money was spent on infrastructure. If we take into account the expenses associated with the development of relevant infrastructure, the sum may be larger, but those expenses are not directly related to the Olympic Games.
SERGEI BRILEV: Mr President, you have just called the ski jump a unique facility. But it is unique not only from the sports and technical point of view. The foreigners are very unlikely to know anything about your question Where is Mr Bilalov?, your visit to the jumping facility and demonstration of how things must function. Mr Bilalov was severely punished in front of the entire nation. Did it frighten the others so as to push them to fulfil their promises? And in general how do you feel about it?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: First, let me finish the answer to Ed's question. Public investments make up 100 out of 214 billion; the rest comes from private companies. This money is primarily invested in hotel infrastructure. By the way, we have built more than 40,000 (between 41,000-43,000, as far as I know) brand new hotel rooms, which is a crucial component of resort development. That is where private investments of our companies have been allocated.
As for the missed deadlines, well, we both understand that over the past several years the Sochi Olympic project has been the largest construction site in the world. Without exaggeration, the biggest building site on the planet. And it is only natural that some problems would come up given the scale of the project and, frankly, lack of experience in implementing such large-scale construction projects in our country, in modern Russia. Certainly, we had to engage in unpleasant discussions about prices, deadlines and quality of work. It could not be otherwise. Absolutely impossible. Constant praise would have brought us nowhere. My job is not only to award medals, you know, which certainly is part of my functions. First and foremost, though, my job is about ensuring success of the work in various spheres. It is a kind of day-to-day spadework. Where in the world have you seen builders who meet all deadlines and provide high-quality work at low prices? Just give me at least one country. Not a single country in the entire world. We see the attempts to overvalue construction prices everywhere – in Europe, North America, Asia. Same story everywhere.
However, this struggle between the customer (in this case, it is either the state or the private sector that has built hotels here) and the executors, the contractors, is quite common. Contractors are always after large profits; customers always want a high-quality end product in due time and as cheap as possible. This struggle never ends, but this is natural. Obviously, there is a line beyond which the struggle gets criminalised, but this is the job of the law enforcement agencies to keep an eye on that, and they have shown tough and good work here. We have tried to prevent anyone from crossing that line. All in all, I think we have managed it.
As for this specific case, yes, Russia’s Sberbank has taken up this project and accomplished it providing excellent quality and modern solutions. There are no other jumping facilities like that in the world.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: It was said that the issue of corruption is really serious: $18 billion were plundered, a Swiss said, is it true or not?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: First, the Swiss did not say that. Of course, we are not indifferent to what our partners around the world, especially in the Olympic movement, say. I have seen the transcript of his meeting with some journalists, your colleagues tried to drag him to this topic, and I can understand journalists, it is their job – always drag out “hot” topics. But the Swiss specialist, the President, as I understand, of the International Ski Federation, he did not say that, as it seemed to me based on the report. This is the first point.
Second, if anyone has concrete data on instances of corruption in implementing the Sochi Olympics Project, we ask to furnish us with objective data. We will be glad and grateful and we will use this information to put things right in this sphere.
What are instances of corruption? In this case they mean theft of public funds with the help of state officials in whose hands these funds fall. If anyone has such information, give it to us, please. I repeat once again, we will be grateful. But so far there was nothing but talks. We understand and we know, and we are even used to it; there are always some forces that are always against everything, even the Olympics project. I do not know why, but, probably, it is their job, probably that’s the way they feel, maybe somebody offended them in their life. But if there is objective data, give it to us, please, as soon as possible. So far we do not have it; nobody provides it. Our law enforcement agencies work on this issue. There were cases, I have already said about it, some years ago local officials tried to trade land designated for Olympics venues. An investigation was conducted; people were convicted by the Russian court and are serving their sentences. We have not seen any big, large-scale instances of corruption in connection with the Sochi Olympics Project implementation. There are things I have already mentioned, attempts by executors, contractors to drive up the price. But this, I repeat, happens in any country of the world, and our task is to lower the prices and achieve good quality of project implementation and compliance with construction deadlines. You understand, there’s always a conflict in such case, we always talk about it openly, and in this regard we always fuel rumours about corruption instances a little bit. What should we do? Either always keep silence about it, or not be afraid of such reaction and work openly? We chose the second way. If we see problems, we talk about it openly. 
Well, that is my comment on this issue. I do not see serious corruption instances for the moment, but there is a problem with overestimation of construction volumes. You know, I can give another comment on that. What are the reasons for construction overestimation? During tenders and competitions, bidders for this or that project often low the cost of the project or their cost proposals on purpose in order to win the project. As soon as they win, they understand that they cannot manage with those prices and start to increase them. It too happens almost everywhere. Our case is not unique. Here we can probably discuss the way tenders are organised. But this price increase, it is sometimes due to contractor’s deliberate acts, and sometimes it is due to the fact that the professional valuation of necessary investments, especially in mountain conditions, for a mountain cluster, are not efficient enough.
The Caucasus Mountains are young mountains, and there are a lot of seismic related problems, a lot of problems with landslides, etc. Sometimes, assessments of all these things have not been done in a timely and professional manner at the initial stage of project price evaluation. These are all work related things, but this is not corruption.
ANDREW MARR: Mr President, now the British choose between France and Switzerland when they want to go skiing, and you want to persuade them to go to Russia to ski. If they go, how difficult it would be to get a Russian visa? Unilaterally, can you without any agreement with the European Union, without negotiations with the EU, undertake steps to relax visa regime, simplify visa procedures and entry?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: As far as the Sochi Olympics’ guests are concerned a unique decision was made. It is unique because we decided that the guests, the tourists coming to the Olympics can arrive to the Sochi Olympic Games without visas, just on the basis of their accreditation. And they can get this accreditation at special offices open in all our diplomatic missions. But they don't need any entry visa. That’s the first point.
Second, we consider that in recent years we have built a unique site from the point of view of its ski track mileage (150 kilometres) and as I mentioned more than 40,000 hotel rooms. May be it is necessary to improve the quality of servicing, but in general the material base created here is good enough for a major, world-class tourist centre. I think that it will be very interesting to see – even for those who will not be able to come to the Olympics – what is Sochi where the Olympic Games took place. People all over the world always show such interest in Olympic Games’ places and we will be glad to see the winter sports fans coming to Sochi to look what Russia did here and how it implemented this project. And if people like it, this place may become a favourite resort for our friends from the United States or Europe, or the Asian countries, including China – why not? We should not forget that people who love winter sports like to see different places, and they will be happy to go to Canada, the United States, Switzerland, Italy, France and to Sochi, I hope.
Now, let me say a few words about visas. We offer exclusions for some tourist routes. For example, tourists arriving by water transport may enter St Petersburg without visa for a certain period of time. We offer other exclusions as well. But we are talking about exclusions anyway while the general regime is as follows: in the world, all visa and visa-free travel issues are regulated on the basis of reciprocity. And we would very much like to finally reach an agreement on such visa-free travel with our colleagues from the European Union. I have spoken on many occasions that the European Union has introduced visa-free travel with a number of Latin American countries where the criminal situation is not better – and in many cases is worse – than in the Russian Federation. And where is Latin America, and where is Europe? If we look at Russia and Europe, they are very close, as I see it. True?
That is why it seems to me that we should agree on visa-free travel in general. And as far as some exclusions are concerned, we may talk about some separate events.
IRADA ZEYNALOVA: Mr President, at the beginning of December you spent three days in Sochi inspecting Olympic facilities. And you mentioned then that we should speak now not about the work done, but about the work that should be done, about the unfinished work, you stressed that it needed polish. Can we say that now everything is ready, what do they report to you? What were the most difficult parts of the work? What else needs to be completed, if there is anything left?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Everything is already done and now we have to clean up. We have to get hotels functioning well, we have to remove the construction equipment, we have to clear construction waste that is to get ready to receive guests just like any hosts do before their guests arrive. Be ready to welcome guests in such a way when everything looks nice and complies with the spirit of the event, and all facilities are ready. As you know, many test events have already been held here, including World Cup stages and other major international competitions. The athletes, our guests and specialists in general were satisfied and stressed the high degree of readiness already a year ago, and now all the facilities are completed.
SHUI JUNYI: Mr President, before I ask my question there is one thing I would like to mention. This is my fifth interview with you in 14 years - sometimes it was face-to-face, sometimes together with my colleagues. You are very popular in China. Before my coming here I said to our Internet users in the Central TV Office that I'm going to Russia to interview you. As soon as I posted this message, it got two million “likes” and many questions.
You have just mentioned that you invite tourists from different countries to come to Sochi. And what do you think about the Chinese investors coming after the Olympics to build hotels here? What chances does this situation provide for Chinese investors?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: First of all, I would like to convey my best wishes to all my friends in China both through social networks and via other media. I know that I have many friends in China. It is not surprising, because we have special relations with China. And I have special feelings for China. China is a great country with a great culture, with very interesting, hard-working and talented people.
Give them a big thanks for such an attitude. This is a mutual feeling.
As far as investors are concerned, we will welcome investors from all countries, including China. China has a great investment potential. China is a country with the largest gold reserves. There are very good investment tools in China, including a whole network of major funds. The Russian Direct Investment Fund, the RDIF, works with some of them, with major Chinese investment funds. They already have joint projects.
Generally, it is quite difficult for foreign investors to find the most effective ways of investing their capital, which are efficient and well-protected at the same time. They often do it together with the relevant national bodies. Such a body, I have just named it, the RDIF, works with our Chinese partners, it can work in any region of the Russian Federation and in any area.
If our Chinese partners are interested in the tourism cluster in the south of Russia or, say, the agriculture cluster, we have it here, in Krasnodar and Stavropol territories, these are neighbouring territories, Rostov Region – this is our breadbasket, as we call it, these are the regions where agricultural production is particularly well developed, the climate here is very good. But in some regions, for example, in Rostov Region, which borders with Krasnodar Territory, engineering is also well-developed, the aviation cluster is developing, and in many of these areas we have promising, very interesting joint plans with our Chinese friends. That is why we invite them not only to Sochi and Krasnodar Territory, but also to whole of Russia’s south.
IRADA ZEYNALOVA: Mr President, at all times and in all countries the Olympic Games have attracted extremists wishing to make a global name for themselves. Unfortunately, in the context of the recent terrorist attacks and threats in the south of Russia, we have to discuss that in relation to Sochi. Several agencies are working to ensure security during the Games, and European and American experts have offered their assistance. What reports do you receive regarding the scope of threats, regarding what we are already confronting and what we will have to confront?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: You are right, extremists are always trying to make a name for themselves, especially in the run-up to some major events, and not only sports events, but also political ones. You know very well what security measures were taken during the meetings of the Heads of State within the framework of the G20, the G8 or other forums, for example, APEC in the Asia-Pacific region. The same applies to major sports events. I have already spoken about this, and I want to repeat that extremists are usually narrow-minded people who do not realise that even if they, as they think, set themselves noble goals, by committing terrorist acts they are drifting further and further away from achieving those seemingly noble goals to the extent that these goals stop being relevant. The whole world considers them criminals, criminals in the worst sense of this word, bloodthirsty people who not only disregard human rights and freedoms, but also set a person's life at naught. No matter what motives they have for committing such acts, there will never be excuses for them, and in the eyes of all sensible people in the world they will always remain criminals. Therefore, they immediately cast a criminal shadow on the goals they set for themselves. But the world is what it is; we remember well the tragic events during the Olympic Games in Munich, when the Israeli sports delegation was killed almost in its entirety. And of course, since that time all countries in the world without exception take special, extraordinary security measures.
We do everything with understanding, with a clear understanding of the operational situation developing around Sochi and in the region as a whole; we have a perfect understanding of what it is, what is that threat, how to stop it, how to combat it. I hope that our law enforcement agencies will deal with it with honour and dignity, just as it was during other major sports and political events.
IRADA ZEYNALOVA: I worked as a correspondent at several Olympic Games, including the London ones, the last Olympic Games. And when we got there, we found out that Patriot missile launchers had been deployed on the roofs of houses in the North and East London. At first it certainly came as a shock like military ships anchored in the bay near Greenwich. But the British government explained: "The threat is massive, we will resist it, and it is a necessity." So that is exactly what happened – Patriot missile launchers were in place. Are we going to see something like that in Sochi?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I hope you will not see anything, but we will do our best. As for London, we remember that one of the G8 summits there saw a number of terrorist attacks, including in the tube. I remember the painful reaction of the then British Prime Minister Tony Blair to the attacks, and I remember how we all provided him moral and, if necessary, special support.  Actually, I would like to again thank all our partners from North America, the United States, Europe, and Asia who actively cooperate with their Russian law enforcement and special services’ counterparts. Such joint work is on-going.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Best Man Holiday Delivers-The Malcolm D. Lee/Spike Lee Joint Is A Must See Film!

Taye Diggs as Harper Stewart

Sanaa Lathan as Robin Stewart

Nia Long as Jordan Armstrong

Morris Chestnut as Lance Sullivan

Harold Perrineau as Julian Murch

Terrence Howard as Quentin Spivey

Monica Calhoun as Mia Sullivan

Melissa De Sousa as Shelby

Regina Hall as Candace "Candy" Murch

Eddie Cibrian as Brian McDonald

Jayda Brown as Kennedy

TBR-Entertainment Review, Editor-in-Chief, Leighton Bradford
The much-anticipated sequel to Best Man, Best Man holiday, delivers! Director Malcolm D. Lee’s subtle, yet calculated genius never gets in the way of the performances. When college friends reunite after 15 years over the Christmas holidays, they will discover just how easy it is for long-forgotten rivalries and romances to be ignited. Everyone involved in this production mastered they’re craft. If I take time out of my day mid-week, to see a movie, it has to impress.

I am not a big fan of the Academy Awards. If the dramatic performances in this movie fail to get Oscar nods, I told you so. The Academy Awards seem to not reward uplifting, Black cultural perspectives? This entity leans towards tragic, Eurocentric, hegemonic type Black acting. “Awe you poor negro,” type of thing. My man relax its just a movie. Dig that! Terence Howard’s character “Quentin,” provided the anchor within this body of work. Howard's character is off da chain! Nia Long’s radiant beauty and acting skills are to be expected. Her style is feminine and awe inspiring. Nia and Taye Diggs compliment each other. Did I mention how attractive my folks were? Black folks! Melissa, Sanaa, Nia, Regina, Monica man just fine!

No deeply philosophical expressions within this piece, so you should consider yourself lucky. Morris Chestnut and Monica Calhoun’s artistic assertions raised the bar for the rest of the crew. Chestnut dealt with betrayal and moral strength, his range is obviously multi- layered. Chestnut should be playing an epic role featuring Mansa Musa, etc. I imagine the ladies and gentlemen are going to love the beautiful people all over this picture? You relate to the cast; moreover, there the fraternity brothers, sorority sistas, or college buddies you went to school with. They’re from your block! When a group of entertainers come across as a down to earth persona, or effortlessly builds empathy for a character. “Come On Man!” “Talent”!

Harold Perrineau and Regina Hall created an interesting dynamic within the movies plot. Fellas what would you do if your woman did this? You see the measured growth of these icons within my generation. Hollywood needs to come up with more material for these cats! Sanaa Lathan and Melissa De Sousa gifted actors. De Sousa held her own with Terence Howard.

Directed by
Malcolm D. Lee

Writing credits
Malcolm D. Lee (written by)


Malcolm D. Lee (characters)


Produced by
Sean Daniel .... producer
Preston L. Holmes .... executive producer
Malcolm D. Lee .... producer

Original Music by
Stanley Clarke

Cinematography by
Greg Gardiner

Film Editing by
Paul Millspaugh

Production Design by
Keith Brian Burns

Art Direction by
Aleksandra Marinkovich

Set Decoration by
Peter P. Nicolakakos

Costume Design by
Danielle Hollowell

Makeup Department
Allan Cooke .... on-set prosthetics
Debra Denson .... makeup department head
Melissa Forney .... department head hair
Gary J. Tunnicliffe .... special makeup effects artist

Production Management
Dennis Chapman .... unit production manager
Jordan Brendan Finnegan .... executive in charge: Blackmaled Productions
Sean T. Stratton .... post-production supervisor (uncredited)

Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Jeff J.J. Authors .... first assistant director
Luke Crawford .... second assistant director: USA
Alice Lilwall .... trainee assistant director
Gerrod Shully .... third assistant director

Art Department
Tory Bellingham .... property master
Sonia Gemmiti .... second assistant art director
Kevin Haeberlin .... Leadman
Michael Huschka .... assistant property master
Patricia Larman .... lead
Casey Erin MacIntyre .... set dresser
Michael Madden .... set designer
John Risso .... paint supervisor: re-shoot

Sound Department
Christopher Assells .... sound effects editor
Bobbi Banks .... dia/ adr supervisor
Harry Cheney .... foley mixer & editor
Lorita de la Cerna .... foley artist
Ken Dufva .... foley artist
Glen Gauthier .... sound mixer
Paul Hackner .... dialogue editor
Greg Hedgepath .... supervising sound editor
John 'Wheels' Hurlbut .... on set Pro Tools operator
Jason McFarling .... second boom operator
Frank A. Montaño .... sound re-recording mixer
Chris Navarro .... adr mixer
Larry Provost .... sound mixer
Steve Switzer .... boom operator
David Williams .... dialogue editor

Special Effects by
Tim Barraball .... special effects foreman

Visual Effects by
Barb Benoit .... digital compositor
Michael Bogen .... compositor: Level 256
Myong Choi .... compositor: Level 256
Patrick Clancey .... digital opticals
Scott M. Davids .... visual effects supervisor: Level 256 VFX
Rachel Faith Hanson .... visual effects producer
Dennis Murillo .... visual effects coordinator: Level 256
D. Eric Robinson .... visual effects supervisor
Amber Soucy .... post production visual effects coordinator
Doug Spilatro .... visual effects artist
Rob Tasker .... digital compositor

Stunts
Matt Birman .... stunts
Bobby Brown .... stunt driver
Howard Green .... stunt double: Taye Diggs
Angelica Lisk-Hann .... stunt coordinator
Angelica Lisk-Hann .... stunt driving double: Regina Hall
Moses Nyarko .... stunt double: Morris Chestnut
Alyssa Veniece .... stunt double: Melissa De Souza

Camera and Electrical Department
Steve Denny .... camera operator: second unit
Greg Haddow .... rigging gaffer
Alan G. Kelly .... second assistant camera: "a" camera
Alex Leung .... camera utility
Malcolm Nefsky .... grip
Anthony Nocera .... digital video assist
Tony Rivetti .... first assistant camera: "a"camera, Los Angeles additional photography
Brett Roedel .... second assistant camera: d
Von Thomas .... digital imaging technician: second unit/additional photography
Phil Whitfield .... best boy

Casting Department
Ashley Gray .... casting assistant
Barbara Harris .... adr voice casting
Jonathan Oliveira .... casting associate
Kevin Schmitz .... extras casting assistant

Costume and Wardrobe Department
Nola Chaters .... costume buyer
Wayne Godfrey .... set supervisor
Wing Lee .... costume sewer
Loreen Lightfoot .... costume cutter
Michelle Lyte .... assistant costume designer
Trelawnie Mead .... assistant set supervisor
Sheila E. Pruden .... costume supervisor

Editorial Department
Jamal Bilal .... post-production assistant
Lauren Brandon .... trainee assistant editor
Dax Brooks .... additional editor
Diane Brunjes Robb .... assistant editor
Liam Johnson .... editor: epk
Dave Labich .... post-production assistant
Mitch Paulson .... supervising digital colorist
Peter Tadros .... second assistant editor

Music Department
Jonathan Hakakian .... music scoring engineer
Jonathan Hakakian .... music scoring mixer
Jonathan Hakakian .... pro tools operator
Paul S. Henning .... musician: violin
Tanya Noel Hill .... music editor
Jasper Randall .... vocal contractor
Jorge Velasco .... assistant music scoring mixer

Transportation Department
Dana Howes .... transportation coordinator
Dave Kinnear .... rigging electric driver
Ted Nobles .... picture car co-captain

Other crew
Darleen Abbott .... first assist accountant: Buffalo Crew
Nick Adrian .... production secretary
Kait Dubblestyne .... production assistant
Katharine Duke .... 2nd assistant accountant: Buffalo Crew
David Dutchess .... set production assistant
Andrea Eisen .... on-set teacher
Mark Robert Ellis .... football coordinator
Wendy Gaboury .... key accountant
Brianna Goldie .... key stand-in
Terrisha Kearse .... Set Staff Assistant: Pickups
Ainslee Kennedy .... assistant production coordinator
Kyla McFeat .... first assistant accountant
Jessi Moore .... assistant football coordinator
Louise Muskala .... cast coordinator
Kait O'Leary .... assistant to director
Boris Radivojevic .... location production assistant
Erin Renton .... second assistant accountant
Davide Sauro .... assistant to Sean Daniel
Mike Sheldon .... assistant football coach
Sat Sidhu .... on-set teacher
Lindsay Somers .... key set medic
Chaz Strothers .... production assistant
Trevor Tuminski .... location production assistant
Michael A. Galasso .... production coordinator (uncredited)


Production Companies
Universal Pictures (presents)
Blackmaled Productions (as Blackmaled)
Sean Daniel Company
Distributors
Universal Pictures (2013) (USA) (theatrical)
Universal Pictures Canada (2013) (Canada) (theatrical)
Other Companies
Canada Film Capital tax incentive consulting services
EFilm digital intermediate
Hula Post editing systems
Liquid Soul Media marketing and promotion
Project First Aid Services set medical services
RCA Records soundtrack

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Degrading black professors‏

TBR-special to TBR, Ron Hasson
Dr. Christian Head was a respected surgeon at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). But because he is black, Dr. Head was the target of blatant discrimination -- including a public presentation that featured an image depicting Dr. Head as a gorilla being sodomized by his white supervisor.

Dr. Head fought back. After more than 100,000 people signed a petition supporting him on Change.org, his lawyers were able to secure a landmark settlement from UCLA. But Dr. Head was far from the only faculty member to experience racism at UCLA.

In fact, a shocking new study reveals that the problem is extremely widespread. As a national board member of the NAACP who lives in Los Angeles, I am abhorred that a prestigious public university like UCLA would turn a blind eye to the systematic degradation of its non-white faculty members.

That's why I started a petition on Change.org calling on California's attorney general, Kamala Harris, to launch an investigation into racism at UCLA to determine if civil rights laws have been violated and to recommend solutions. Click here to sign my petition.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the recent campus-wide study of racism at UCLA -- led by former California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno -- said that UCLA regularly ignored complaints about discrimination and retaliation. One Latino professor reported being called a racial slur by a colleague in front of his students. He says he was told that reporting what happened to him would only "cause more trouble."

Since UCLA refuses to take action to address systemic racism on campus, it's time for Attorney General Harris to step in.

As a strong woman of color in California leadership, Attorney General Harris is uniquely positioned to take swift and decisive action to address UCLA's pernicious culture of discrimination. I know that if thousands of people sign my petition, Attorney General Harris will respond, just as a petition created key pressure to enable Dr. Head to win his settlement from UCLA.

Click here to sign my petition calling on Attorney General Harris to launch an investigation into systemic racism at UCLA.


Thank you,

Ron Hasson

Los Angeles, CA



Thursday, November 14, 2013

Veterans jobs moving overseas‏

TBR-John Soltz, Iraq War Veteran, Chairman VoteVets.org
President Obama and the Congress have made tremendous progress reducing the unemployment rate for veterans since the start of the Great Recession.

It'd be a shame to reverse course now.

But that's just what Trans Pacific Partnership would do -- known as "NAFTA on Steroids" -- the trade agreement would hasten the departure of even more manufacturing and service sector jobs that the U.S. economy has already been hemorrhaging for decades.

If you or your family have been impacted by jobs being shipped overseas, we'd love to hear from you. Please let us know here:

http://action.votevets.org/manufacturing-jobs

There has always been a great relationship between veterans who return home and the manufacturing jobs that support their families when they leave the service.

Help us stand with them today.

All the best,

Jon Soltz @JonSoltz, Iraq War Veteran and Chairman VoteVets.org