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Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief” Video highlights

Thanks to everyone who joined us for a night of great music and a show of support for the people of Haiti

Posted by: Audiegrl

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President Obama Signs Legislation

President Obama Signs Legislation Providing Immediate Tax Deductions for Haiti Charitable Contributions January 22, 2010.

President Obama Is Making It Easier for Americans to Support Haiti
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In the days since the earthquake in Haiti, Americans have shown their generosity with millions of dollars in donations. Tonight, President Obama signed a bill into law that makes it easier to give. This legislation will allow taxpayers to receive the tax benefit from donations made to the Haiti effort in this tax season, rather than having to wait until they file their 2010 tax returns next year. Specifically, cash donations to charities for the Haitian relief effort given after January 11 and before March 1 of this year may be treated as if the contribution was made on December 31 of last year so that the contribution can be deducted from 2009 income. This measure applies to monetary donations, not goods or services.


Clinton Bush Haiti Relief FundUNICEFAmerican Red Cross

WFP:  World Food ProgrammePartners In Health Oxfam America
Yéle Haiti

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MSNBC Premieres Hope and Fear in Obama’s America with Hosts Chris Mathews and Tom Joyner

Posted by: Audiegrl

A Two Hour Special Event on Race Relations in America On Martin Luther King Day

Tom Joyner and Chris MatthewsOne year after the inauguration of the first African-American President, MSNBC will present “Hope and Fear in Obama’s America,” January 18, 2010, 10 p.m. ET, an extended discussion surrounding race and post-racial identity in America. Moderated by “Hardball’s” Chris Matthews and featuring syndicated radio host Tom Joyner, live from Texas Southern University, a historically Black university in Houston, Texas. The two-hour special event on Martin Luther King Day will explore some of the most pressing and provocative issues connected to race and race relations in the U.S.

Hope and Fear in Obama’s America” will discuss the progress we’ve made in the United States and the challenges we continue to face around racial equality, addressing issues ranging from whether there is such a thing as generational colorblindness, to the “burdens of the first,” and whether there are a unique set of expectations and challenges attached to being the first to break a racial barrier. Panelists and guests will be announced at a later date.

MSNBC.com will soon feature additional information on the special and its guests and will also allow viewers to participate in live votes and continue the discussion online.

In a message to his audience of 8 million listeners, Joyner said, “This is an important story because it will give me and you a rare opportunity to participate in a much needed discussion about whether racism is still a relevant topic now that President Obama has been elected.” Joyner added, “It’s a crucial thing when mainstream America wants to know what’s on our minds. Together, we can give provide honest questions and answers about racism in this country. ”

Joyner reassured his listeners, that “of course, the traditional, easy way to tackle these topics is to get the same old people to say the same old things. Not knocking any of the people who have sat on panel after panel after panel to talk about race in America in past years. But it’s almost impossible to get any new perspectives on issues unless we solicit information from varied sources, and from what I can see, at this point, that’s what this MSNBC town hall Meeting will attempt to do. Chris Matthews and I will not talk to a panel of your “usual suspects” about hopes and fears in Obama’s America.”

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Wyclef Jean Joins George Clooney To Lead MTV’s ‘Hope For Haiti Now’ Telethon

Two-hour global telethon will air Friday, January 22

Wyclef Jean

Wyclef Jean

Wyclef Jean will join George Clooney and CNN’s Anderson Cooper in hosting MTV Networks’ “Hope for Haiti Now,” the global two hour telethon to air commercial-free across ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CNN, BET, The CW, HBO, MTV, VH1, and CMT plus CNN International, National Geographic and MTV on Friday, January 22, at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

Hope for Haiti Now” will feature performances and celebrity appearances to be announced in the coming days, as well as live news reports from CNN. Clooney will host from Los Angeles, Wyclef Jean will be in New York and Anderson Cooper will be live from the devastation, with the Hollywood actor lining up a who’s who of guests to drop by and perform on the night.

All proceeds will be split evenly among five relief organizations who are on the ground helping the people of Haiti: Oxfam America, Partners in Health, the Red Cross, UNICEF and Yele Haiti Foundation. Both Facebook and MySpace have signed on as official social-media partners to help steer viewers to the telethon and drive donations.

Celebrities across the fame spectrum have harnessed social-networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook to rally support for the Haitian people, announcing their personal donations or directing their fans to contribute to deserving aid groups.

Yele Haiti FoundationHaitian-born musician Wyclef Jean has become the unofficial face of this celebrity humanitarian movement. More than $1 million has flooded in to Jean’s Yéle Haiti since Tuesday, according the charity’s fund-raising organizers. The Hollywood Foreign Press announced it would donate $100,000 to Yéle, while figures such as Lindsay Lohan, MC Hammer, and Haitian-born soccer star Jozy Altidor have tweeted their support for Jean’s cause.

Producing the telethon will be Joel Gallen, who produced the 9/11 telethon “America: A Tribute to Heroes” that aired 10 days after that tragedy.

The Christian Science Monitor reports that several other celebrities are using their social clout and talent to direct attention to Haiti.

  • Lance ArmstrongCyclist Lance Armstrong announced to his 2.3 million Twitter followers that his Livestrong foundation had pledged $250,000 to two humanitarian aid groups.
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  • Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt Actors-turned-philanthropists Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have donated $1 million to the Doctors Without Borders organization; Oprah began her talk show Wednesday by asking viewers to contribute to the Red Cross; Coldplay front man Chris Martin is urging his fans to donate to Haiti via Oxfam; and even Paris Hilton promoted the efforts of the Red Cross via Twitter.
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  • David BlaineMeanwhile, magician David Blaine is taking a slightly more hands-on approach. At 9 a.m. Friday, Blaine started what will be a 72-hour, nonstop “Magic Marathon” in Times Square. Benefits of the event and all proceeds from his online store will be given to the Red Cross.
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  • RihannaBut George Clooney isn’t the only celeb tapping his golden connections. East Coast nightlife guru Unik Ernest, whose Edeyo Foundation supports community-building projects in Haiti, has begun organizing a telethon and benefit concert. While the date of the event is yet to be released, celebrities said to be featured include: Rihanna, Usher, Mariah Carey, Kanye West, Mark Wahlberg, Jay-Z, Susan Sarandon, Leonardo DiCaprio, and others, according to Tonic.com.

Celebrity support of the Haitian people has contributed to the success of this week’s aid efforts. The American Red Cross reported Wednesday evening that in the 48 hours following the quake some $35 million in donations had poured in – more than it had received in the two days following Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunamis.

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BBC Airing Guantánamo Guard/Detainee Reunion

Posted by: Audiegrl

“He would say, ‘you ever listen to Eminem or Dr Dre’ and… I thought how could it be somebody is here who’s doing the same stuff that I do when I’m back home”~~Former Guard Brandon Neely

Brandon Neely, center, was a Guantánamo Bay guard, and Ruhal Ahmed, left, and Shafiq Rasul were prisoners.

Brandon Neely, center, was a Guantánamo Bay guard, and Ruhal Ahmed, left, and Shafiq Rasul were prisoners.

Why would a former Guantanamo Bay prison guard track down two of his former captives – two British men – and agree to fly to London to meet them?

BBC News/Gavin Lee~~”You look different without a cap.”

You look different without the jump suits.”

With those words, an extraordinary reunion gets under way.

The journey of reconciliation began almost a year ago in Huntsville, Texas. Mr Neely, 29, had left the US military in 2005 to become a police officer and was still struggling to come to terms with his time as a guard at Guantanamo.

He felt anger at a number of incidents of abuse he says he witnessed, and guilt over one in particular.

Highly controversial since it opened in 2002, Guantanamo prison was set up by President George Bush in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks to house suspected “terrorists“. But it has been heavily divisive and President Barack Obama has said it has “damaged [America’s] national security interests and become a tremendous recruiting tool for al Qaeda“.

Mr Neely recalls only the good publicity in the US media.

The news would always try to make Guantanamo into this great place,” he says, “like ‘they [prisoners] were treated so great’. No it wasn’t. You know here I was basically just putting innocent people in cages.”

The prisoners arriving on planes, in goggles and jump suits, from Afghanistan were termed by then US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as the “worst of the worst“. But after getting to know some of the English-speaking detainees, Mr Neely started to have doubts all of them were fanatical terrorists.

Mr Neely was 22 when he worked at the camp and left after six months to serve in Iraq. But after quitting the military his doubts about Guantanamo began to crystallize. This led to a spontaneous decision last year to reach out to his former prisoners on Facebook.

Released in 2004, after being held for two years, Mr Rasul and Mr Ahmed and another friend from Tipton had been captured in Afghanistan on suspicion of links to the Taliban. The three said they were beaten by US troops although this was disputed by the US government at the time.

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But what were the pair doing in Afghanistan in 2001?

They explain that, being in their late teens and early twenties at the time, they had made a naive, spontaneous decision to travel for free with an aid convoy weeks before a friend’s wedding, due to take place in Pakistan.

Mr Ahmed admits they had a secret agenda for entering Afghanistan, but it wasn’t to join al-Qaeda.

Aid work was like probably 5% of it. Our main reason was just to go and sightsee really and smoke some dope“.

Does their former prison guard believe them? Yes, says Mr Neely, who says he thinks it was a case of “wrong place, wrong time“.

Both sides are beginning to bond, yet towards the end, Mr Neely has a confession of his own. It threatens to destroy the mood of reconciliation.

He is deeply ashamed of an incident in which he “slammed” an elderly prisoner’s head against the floor.

Mr Neely recalls that he thought he had been under attack because the man kept trying to rise to his feet. But weeks later he discovered the prisoner thought he was being placed on his knees to be executed and believed he was fighting for his life.

Mr Ahmed is speechless, then evidently conflicted as he wrestles in his mind with whether or not he can forgive. Eventually, he says he can.

But should Mr Neely be prosecuted for his actions? Mr Ahmed pauses again.

He’s realized what he did was wrong and he’s living with it and suffering with it and as long as that he knows what he did was wrong. That’s the main thing.”

Afterwards, each say they had genuinely found some sort of closure from meeting. The sense of relief in all their faces speaks volumes, and they leave the meeting closer to one another.

Their story will be featured on the documentary Guantanamo Reunited on BBC Radio 5 live on Thursday 14 January at 2200 BST.

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NYT-Guantánamo Reunion, by Way of BBC

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Maine Question 1: We’re Working too Hard to Lose …

posted by GeoT

by Paul Hogarth‚ Nov. 02‚ 2009 SOUTH PORTLAND – I’m writing this on Monday, November 2nd at 2:00 a.m., and will get up early so I will be brief. This weekend has been intense, as myself and Jay Jonah Cash have placed “No on 1” campaign volunteers from New Hampshire, New York, Boston, Vermont and 20 Yale students in a South Portland hotel for our Drive for Equality program. It’s inspiring to see the passion as we sense this election’s national implications for marriage equality. And we’re still on the phones and sending out e-mails, asking folks to make spur-of-the-moment plans to drive up to Maine. Sign up at our website, and we’ll stuff as many committed volunteers into hotel rooms as we can.

We have a better ground game than our opposition, but it will be close. Literally before going to my bedroom for the night, a new poll came out with us down by 4 points. “We expect there to be almost twice as many voters over 65 as young voters,” said the pollsters, “but if that gap narrows so would the vote on Question 1. With a race as close as this, it all comes down to which side can get its people out to the polls. It could go either way depending on who actually shows up to vote.” We’re working too hard to lose this …

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TRMS: Online Auction to Raise Money for Doctor George Tiller’s Accused Killer

The Rachel Maddow ShowThe Rachel Maddow Show discovers friends of Scott Roeder, the man who allegedly murdered women’s health doctor George Tiller, is planning to auction off anti-abortion materials to raise money for his defense. Rachel Maddow is joined by Lee Thompson, the lawyer for George Tiller’s estate.

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86 Year Old, Life-long Republican and WWII Vet on Gay Marriage- “What Do You Think I Fought For?”

Posted by Audiegrl

votenoon1maineIn this poignant video below, 86 year old Philip Spooner, who is a life long resident of Maine and a Republican, speaks out on the reason we need marriage equality in this country. The fight for marriage equality in Maine is coming up in two weeks. If the “No on 1” campaign is successful, Maine will become the first state in the nation to successfully defend marriage equality in the voting booth.

Get this video out to as many people as you can.

Transcript: Good morning, Committee. My name is Phillip Spooner and I live at 5 Graham Street in Biddeford. I am 86 years old and a lifetime Republican and an active VFW chaplain. I still serve three hospitals and two nursing homes and I also serve Meals on Wheels for 28 years. My wife of 54 years, Jenny, died in 1997. Together we had four children, including the one gay son. All four of our boys were in the service. I was born on a potato farm north of Caribou and Perham, where I was raised to believe that all men are created equal and I’ve never forgotten that. I served in the U.S. Army, 1942-1945, in the First Army, as a medic and an ambulance driver. I worked with every outfit over there, including Patton’s Third Army. I saw action in all five major battles in Europe, and including the Battle of the Bulge. My unit was awarded Presidential Citations for transporting more patients with fewer accidents than any other ambulance unit I was in the liberation of Paris. After the war I carried POW’s back from Poland, Hungary, and Yugoslavia, and also hauled hundreds of injured Germans back to Germany.

I am here today because of a conversation I had last June when I was voting. A woman at my polling place asked me, “Do you believe in equal, equality for gay and lesbian people?” I was pretty surprised to be asked a question like that. It made no sense to me. Finally I asked her, “What do you think our boys fought for at Omaha Beach?” I haven’t seen much, so much blood and guts, so much suffering, much sacrifice. For what? For freedom and equality. These are the values that give America a great nation, one worth dying for.

I give talks to eighth grade teachers about World War II, and I don’t tell them about the horror. Maybe [inaudible] ovens of Buchenwald and Dachau. I’ve seen with my own eyes the consequences of caste systems and it make some people less than others, or second class. Never again. We must have equal rights for everyone. It’s what this country was started for. It takes all kinds of people to make a world war. It does make no sense that some people who love each other can marry and others can’t just because of who they are. This is what we fought for in World War II. That idea that we can be different and still be equal.

My wife and I did not raise four sons with the idea that three of them would have a certain set of rights, but our gay child would be left out. We raised them all to be hard-working, proud, and loyal Americans and they all did good. I think it’s too bad those who want to get married, they should be able to. Everybody’s supposed to be equal in equality in this country. Let gay people have the right to marry. Thank you

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Why I’m Optimistic About Maine by Paul Hogarth

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Why I’m Optimistic About Maine by Paul Hogarth

Posted by Audiegrl

gay_rights_sign_by_Beyond Chron/Paul Hogarth—I’m back home in San Francisco, after spending 10 days on the ground in Maine with the “No on 1” campaign. After my time there, I truly believe that – with our help – Maine will become the first state in the nation to successfully defend marriage equality at the ballot box, providing a roadmap for California to repeal Proposition 8. Maine activists have been working hard for five years to pass gay marriage, but events in the last few days now point to what should be an historic victory on November 3rd. With only 19 days left, what I’m seeing from the “Yes on 1” campaign reminds me of where “No on 8” was at this point last year – outgunned by the opposition, unable to control the message and at a loss about what to do. If Question 1 passes, it will be our fault for not having done more. But if Question 1 fails, those of us who get involved will have made history – which is why I hope to go back for the last four days. Here are the reasons for my optimism …

An Early Fundraising Advantage

votenoon1maineOne reason why I got involved in this effort was that “No on 1” said they only needed $3 million dollars for the entire campaign – a pittance compared with California efforts. “We’re a cheap date,” said campaign manager Jesse Connolly at this year’s Netroots Nation Convention. New fundraising totals that came out this week show that “No on 1” has already raised $2.7 million (with most of the money coming from Maine residents) – and bloggers are planning a big fundraising push for today that should keep them on track with their goal.

The bigger news, however, is that “Yes on 1” reported only raising $1.1 million – with a campaign debt of $400,000 (our side has no debt.) This provoked their spokesman Marc Mutty (who is on loan from the Portland Archdiocese) to send out an urgent message on October 13th that their cause was under “financial assault.” In the mass e-mail, which can be reviewed in full here, Mutty says they had known from the opposition’s superior ground game that our side had been raising more money. But they had “never dreamed the situation was as dire as it is,” and are now urging their supporters to make a “sacrificial contribution” to pass Question 1.

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More @ Beyond Chron, San Francisco’s Alternative Online Daily

Paul Hogarth

Paul Hogarth

Paul Hogarth is the Managing Editor of Beyond Chron, San Francisco’s Alternative Online Daily, where this piece was first published.

To find out more about Beyond Chron, click here.

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CREW and the Obama Administration Reach Historic Legal Settlement–White House Will Post Visitor Records Online

Guests and their canine companions from the Helen Keller National Center

White House guests and their canine companions from the Helen Keller National Center


Posted by Audiegrl
Today’s statement from the White House says that it will release the names of visitors. Three to four months after the visit they will be posted online. This does not apply to visits that are regarding national security, or extreme confidentiality, or visits to the First Family that are of a personal nature.

This new move will end the lawsuits filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW), a Washington based watchdog group. You can read more about what CREW is calling a ‘historic legal settlement here.

As another indication of his commitment to an open and transparent government, the President announced today that for the first time in history, records of White House visitors will be released. Each month, records of visitors from the previous 90-120 days will be made available online.
“For the first time in history, records of White House visitors will be made available to the public on an ongoing basis,” said President Obama. “We will achieve our goal of making this administration the most open and transparent administration in history not only by opening the doors of the White House to more Americans, but by shining a light on the business conducted inside. Americans have a right to know whose voices are being heard in the policymaking process.”

Aside from a small group of appointments that cannot be disclosed because of national security imperatives or their necessarily confidential nature (such as a visit by a possible Supreme Court nominee), the record of every visitor who comes to the White House for an appointment, a tour, or to conduct business will be released.

Previous administrations fought disclosure of White House visitor logs in court. This administration began a review of the policy during its first days in office.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a government reform organization which has long objected to administrations keeping White House visitor logs secret, said in a statement from its executive director Melanie Sloan:

“Today the Obama administration has proven its pledge to usher in a new era of government transparency was more than just a campaign promise. The Obama administration will have the most open White House in history. Providing public access to visitor records is an important step in restoring transparency and accountability to our government.”

The administration thanks CREW for their participation in the development of this new policy.

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