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GOP Blinks: 27 Obama Nominees Confirmed After White House Threat

Posted by: Audiegrl

HP~The Senate confirmed 27 high-level Obama nominees Thursday evening just days after President Obama threatened to use recess appoints. The Senate is scheduled to begin their break on Monday, Feb. 15.

On Tuesday, Obama met with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in a bipartisan meeting and warned that he would use the upcoming Senate recess to appoint his nominees. At the beginning of the week, more than 63 nominees had holds on their confirmation.

Obama made a surprise appearance before the White House press corps on Tuesday, announcing that he would consider making recess appointments if congress did not act.

In a statement released Thursday after his nominees were confirmed, Obama said that he might still make recess appointments if the Senate does not act after it comes back from recess. The Senate’s next recess after President’s Day will begin March 29.

From the White House:

white house gov logoToday, the United States Senate confirmed 27 of my high-level nominees, many of whom had been awaiting a vote for months.

At the beginning of the week, a staggering 63 nominees had been stalled in the Senate because one or more senators placed a hold on their nomination. In most cases, these holds have had nothing to do with the nominee’s qualifications or even political views, and these nominees have already received broad, bipartisan support in the committee process.

Instead, many holds were motivated by a desire to leverage projects for a Senator’s state or simply to frustrate progress. It is precisely these kinds of tactics that enrage the American people.

And so on Tuesday, I told Senator McConnell that if Republican senators did not release these holds, I would exercise my authority to fill critically-needed positions in the federal government temporarily through the use of recess appointments. This is a rare but not unprecedented step that many other presidents have taken. Since that meeting, I am gratified that Republican senators have responded by releasing many of these holds and allowing 29 nominees to receive a vote in the Senate.

While this is a good first step, there are still dozens of nominees on hold who deserve a similar vote, and I will be looking for action from the Senate when it returns from recess. If they do not act, I reserve the right to use my recess appointment authority in the future.

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TV Crew Interpreter Rescues Baby Winnie From Rubble in Haiti

Posted by: Audiegrl

Winnie is passed to Australian journalist Mike Amor

Winnie is passed to Australian journalist Mike Amor

After hearing many experts say that no one could survive more than three days without water, today we learned a lesson about the power of faith. An Australian television crew interpreter pulled a 16-month-old girl, Winnie Tilin, from the rubble of a house in Haiti on Friday, January 15, nearly three days after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated the country.

In the ruins of a neighborhood, where a hillside collapsed, residents were desperately trying to dig out a young child who was crying under the rubble. She had been buried there for 68 hours with no food or water. Hearing her faint cries and concerned that rescue efforts were taking to long, a young man jumped into the concrete hole. Deiby Celestino was the TV crew’s interpreter from the Dominican Republic. Miraculously, after crawling over dead bodies to get to her, he was able to pull her out. Once free, he passed the child to Australian journalist Mike Amor.

Miracle baby, Winnie

Miracle baby, Winnie

It’s very emotional. I actually thought it was my own baby pulling out there,” said hero/rescuer Celestino “She did a great job staying alive for three days with no food or drink.

Once the child was pulled from the rubble, volunteers poured water over the girl. “Whose baby? Whose baby? Is it your baby?” asked Amor who passed the child to her Uncle. Unfortunately, Winnie’s parents were killed in the collapse of the family’s home. Her Uncle, Frantz Tilin, arrived to find her after losing his own pregnant wife in the earthquake.

Workers with Save the Children Fund fed Winnie and gave her fresh water to drink. STC medical experts determined the girl to be dehydrated, but expect her to recover well.

This is truly a story of the resilience of the human spirit and an example of a self-less act of heroism by a fellow human being.


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More Stories of Hope…

Amazing rescue as two-year-old boy is pulled from wrecked home in Haiti

A little boy named Redjeson Hausteen Claude, was saved by a Spanish emergency worker whose team have managed to reach the afflicted area.

A little boy named Redjeson Hausteen Claude, was saved by a Spanish emergency worker whose team have managed to reach the afflicted area.

A TWO-YEAR-OLD boy is plucked from the rubble of his home three days after it was destroyed by the Haiti earthquake.

Redjeson Hausteen Claude’s saviour Felix del Amo could not conceal his glee as he handed the child to his parents, Daphnee Plaisin and Reginald Claude.

Spanish and Belgian rescuers had listened to Redjeson’s fading cries as they dug for hours through twisted metal and concrete.

The tearful tot’s face broke into a huge smile as he clapped eyes on his mum and dad, who had tried to dig him free with their bare hands.

Amazingly, he had suffered only a few facial cuts.

Dramatic photographs captured the moment when the father of Redjeson saw a Spanish rescuer pull his terrified child from the wreckage: Click Image for Slide-show


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Seven Features Continue in VFX Oscar® Race

Posted by: Audiegrl

***Update ALERT~~~44-D’s Virtual Red Carpet to the Oscars® Section Is Now Open!!! Over 88 individual pages. Click here for complete coverage of all nominated movies, that includes: nomination categories, trailers, cast, reviews, production notes, and much more…And don’t forget we will be live-blogging the Oscars® on March 7th, please stop by and join our virtual Oscar® Party!!***

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced that seven films remain in the running in the Visual Effects category for the 82nd Academy Awards®.

The films are listed below in alphabetical order:

Avatar
When his brother is killed in battle, paraplegic Marine Jake Sully takes his place in a mission on the distant world of Pandora. The planet is inhabited by the Navi, a humanoid race with their own language and culture. Jake learns of the plan to drive off the Na’vi, in order to mine for the precious material scattered throughout their rich woodland.

Watch the trailer

District 9
In 1982, a massive star ship bearing a bedraggled alien population appeared over Johannesburg, South Africa. Twenty-eight years later, the initial welcome by the human population has faded. The extraterrestrial race is forced to live in slum-like conditions on Earth and find a kindred spirit in a government agent that is exposed to their biotechnology.

Watch the trailer

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
As Harry Potter begins his 6th year at Hogwarts, Voldemort is tightening his grip on both the Muggle and wizarding worlds. Hogwarts is no longer the safe haven it once was. Harry suspects that dangers may even lie within the castle, but Dumbledore is more intent upon preparing him for the final battle that he knows is fast approaching.
Watch the trailer

Star Trek
The film follows James T. Kirk enrolling at Starfleet Academy, his first meeting with Spock, and their battles with Romulans from the future, who are interfering with history. Together, the new crew of the USS Enterprise will have an adventure in the final frontier where the old legend is altered forever even as the new version of it is just beginning.
Watch the trailer

Terminator Salvation
It’s the early stages of the war between man and machines. And the savior John Conner is doing everything he can to make sure man survives. He thinks he’s found a way to ensure that, and he also learns that the machines have targeted the man who’s suppose to father him, Kyle Reese, so he tries to find him.
Watch the trailer

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
When Sam starts college, the Decepticons make trouble in Shanghai. A presidential envoy believes it’s because the Autobots are around. The Decepticons need access to Sam’s mind for glyphs imprinted there that will lead them to a fragile object that, when inserted in an alien machine hidden in Egypt for centuries, gives them the power to blow out the sun.
Watch the trailer

2012
Never before has a date in history been so significant to so many cultures, so many religions, scientists, and governments. 2012 is an epic adventure about a global cataclysm that brings an end to the world and tells of the heroic struggle of the survivors trying to escape the impending cataclysm.
Watch the trailer

On Thursday, January 21, all members of the Academy’s Visual Effects Branch will be invited to view 15-minute excerpts from each of the seven shortlisted films. Following the screenings, the members will vote to nominate three films for final Oscar consideration.

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Celebrating Kwanzaa

The History of Kwanzaa

Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor and chairman of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach, created Kwanzaa in 1966. After the Watts riots in Los Angeles, Dr. Karenga searched for ways to bring African-Americans together as a community. He founded US, a cultural organization, and started to research African “first fruit” (harvest) celebrations. Karenga combined aspects of several different harvest celebrations, such as those of the Ashanti and those of the Zulu, to form the basis of Kwanzaa.

The name Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which means “first fruits” in Swahili. Each family celebrates Kwanzaa in its own way, but celebrations often include songs and dances, African drums, storytelling, poetry reading, and a large traditional meal. On each of the seven nights, the family gathers and a child lights one of the candles on the Kinara (candleholder), then one of the seven principles is discussed. The principles, called the Nguzo Saba (seven principles in Swahili) are values of African culture which contribute to building and reinforcing community among African-Americans. Kwanzaa also has seven basic symbols which represent values and concepts reflective of African culture. Click here for the symbols. An African feast, called a Karamu, is held on December 31.

The candle-lighting ceremony each evening provides the opportunity to gather and discuss the meaning of Kwanzaa. The first night, the black candle in the center is lit (and the principle of umoja/unity is discussed). One candle is lit each evening and the appropriate principle is discussed.

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The Seven Principles

The seven principles, or Nguzo Saba are a set of ideals created by Dr. Maulana Karenga. Each day of Kwanzaa emphasizes a different principle.

Unity Umoja (oo–MO–jah)
To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.

Self-determination Kujichagulia (koo–gee–cha–goo–LEE–yah)
To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.

Collective Work and Responsibility Ujima (oo–GEE–mah)
To build and maintain our community together and make our brother’s and sister’s problems our problems and to solve them together.

Cooperative Economics Ujamaa (oo–JAH–mah)
To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.

Purpose Nia (nee–YAH)
To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

Creativity Kuumba (koo–OOM–bah)
To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

Faith Imani (ee–MAH–nee)
To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

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The Seven Symbols

Mazao Fruits, Nuts, and Vegetables
Mazao, the crops (fruits, nuts, and vegetables), symbolizes work and the basis of the holiday. It represents the historical foundation for Kwanzaa, the gathering of the people that is patterned after African harvest festivals in which joy, sharing, unity, and thanksgiving are the fruits of collective planning and work. Since the family is the basic social and economic center of every civilization, the celebration bonded family members, reaffirming their commitment and responsibility to each other. In Africa the family may have included several generations of two or more nuclear families, as well as distant relatives. Ancient Africans didn’t care how large the family was, but there was only one leader – the oldest male of the strongest group. For this reason, an entire village may have been composed of one family. The family was a limb of a tribe that shared common customs, cultural traditions, and political unity and were supposedly descended from common ancestors. The tribe lived by traditions that provided continuity and identity. Tribal laws often determined the value system, laws, and customs encompassing birth, adolescence, marriage, parenthood, maturity, and death. Through personal sacrifice and hard work, the farmers sowed seeds that brought forth new plant life to feed the people and other animals of the earth. To demonstrate their mazao, celebrants of Kwanzaa place nuts, fruit, and vegetables, representing work, on the mkeka.

Mkeka Place Mat
Mkeka Place MatThe mkeka, made from straw or cloth, comes directly from Africa and expresses history, culture, and tradition. It symbolizes the historical and traditional foundation for us to stand on and build our lives because today stands on our yesterdays, just as the other symbols stand on the mkeka. In 1965, James Baldwin wrote: “For history is not merely something to be read. And it does not refer merely, or even principally, to the past. On the contrary, the great force of history comes from the facts that we carry it within us, are consciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do. It could scarcely be otherwise, since it is to history that we owe our frames of reference, our identities, and our aspirations.” During Kwanzaa, we study, recall, and reflect on our history and the role we are to play as a legacy to the future. Ancient societies made mats from straw, the dried seams of grains, sowed and reaped collectively. The weavers took the stalks and created household baskets and mats. Today, we buy mkeka that are made from Kente cloth, African mud cloth, and other textiles from various areas of the African continent. The mishumaa saba, the vibunzi, the mazao, the zawadi, the kikombe cha umoja, and the kinara are placed directly on the mkeka.

Vibunzi Ear of Corn
Ears of Corn The stalk of corn represents fertility and symbolizes that through the reproduction of children, the future hopes of the family are brought to life. One ear is called vibunzi, and two or more ears are called mihindi. Each ear symbolizes a child in the family, and thus one ear is placed on the mkeka for each child in the family. If there are no children in the home, two ears are still set on the mkeka because each person is responsible for the children of the community. During Kwanzaa, we take the love and nurturance that was heaped on us as children and selflessly return it to all children, especially the helpless, homeless, loveless ones in our community. Thus, the Nigerian proverb “It takes a whole village to raise a child” is realized in this symbol (vibunzi), since raising a child in Africa was a community affair, involving the tribal village, as well as the family. Good habits of respect for self and others, discipline, positive thinking, expectations, compassion, empathy, charity, and self-direction are learned in childhood from parents, from peers, and from experiences. Children are essential to Kwanzaa, for they are the future, the seed bearers that will carry cultural values and practices into the next generation. For this reason, children were cared for communally and individually within a tribal village. The biological family was ultimately responsible for raising its own children, but every person in the village was responsible for the safety and welfare of all the children.

Mishumaa Saba The Seven Candles
Candles are ceremonial objects with two primary purposes: to re-create symbolically the sun’s power and to provide light. The celebration of fire through candle burning is not limited to one particular group or country; it occurs everywhere. Mishumaa saba are the seven candles: three red, three green, and one black. The back candle symbolizes Umoja (unity), the basis of success, and is lit on December 26. The three green candles, representing Nia, Ujima, and Imani, are placed to the right of the Umoja candle, while the three red candles, representing Kujichagulia, Ujamaa, and Kuumba, are placed to the left of it. During Kwanzaa, on candle, representing one principle, is lit each day. Then the other candles are relit to give off more light and vision. The number of candles burning also indicate the principle that is being celebrated. The illuminating fire of the candles is a basic element of the universe, and every celebration and festival includes fire in some form. Fire’s mystique, like the sun, is irresistible and can destroy or create with its mesmerizing, frightening, mystifying power.

Mishumaa saba’s symbolic colors are from the red, black, and green flag (bendara) created by Marcus Garvey. The colors also represent African gods. Red is the color of Shango, the Yoruba god of fire, thunder, and lightning, who lives in the clouds and sends down his thunderbolt whenever he is angry or offended. It also represents the struggle for self-determination and freedom by people of color. Black is the people, the earth, the source of life, representing hope, creativity, and faith and denoting messages and the opening and closing of doors. Green represents the earth that sustains our lives and provides hope, divination, employment, and the fruits of the harvest

Kinara The Candleholder
The kinara is the center of the Kwanzaa setting and represents the original stalk from which we came: our ancestry. The kinara can be shape – straight lines, semicircles, or spirals – as long as the seven candles are separate and distinct, like a candelabra. Kinaras are made from all kinds of materials, and many celebrants create their own from fallen branches, wood, or other natural materials. The kinara symbolizes the ancestors, who were once earth bound; understand the problems of human life; and are willing to protect their progeny from danger, evil, and mistakes. In African festivals the ancestors are remembered and honored. The mishumaa saba are placed in the kinara.

Kikombe Cha Umoja The Unity Cup
The kikombe cha umoja is a special cup that is used to perform the libation (tambiko) ritual during the Karamu feast on the sixth day of Kwanzaa. In many African societies libation are poured for the living dead whose souls stay with the earth they tilled. The Ibo of Nigeria believe that to drink the last portion of a libation is to invite the wrath of the spirits and the ancestors; consequently, the last part of the libation belongs to the ancestors. During the Karamu feast, the kikombe cha umoja is passed to family member and guests, who drink from it to promote unity. Then, the eldest person present pours the libation (tambiko), usually water, juice, or wine, in the direction of the four winds – north, south, east, and west – to honor the ancestors. The eldest asks the gods and ancestors to share in the festivities and, in return, to bless all the people who are not at the gathering. After asking for this blessing, the elder pours the libation on the ground and the group says “Amen.” Large Kwanzaa gatherings may operate just as communion services in most churches, for which it is common for celebrants to have individual cups and to drink the libation together as a sign of unity. Several families may have a cup that is specifically for the ancestors, and everyone else has his or her own. The last few ounces of the libation are poured into the cup of the host or hostess, who sips it and then hands it to the oldest person in the group, who asks for the blessing.

Zawadi Gifts
When we celebrate Imani on the seventh day of Kwanzaa, we give meaningful zawadi (gifts) to encourage growth, self-determination, achievement, and success. We exchange the gifts with members of our immediate family, especially the children, to promote or reward accomplishments and commitments kept, as well as with our guests. Handmade gifts are encouraged to promote self-determination, purpose, and creativity and to avoid the chaos of shopping and conspicuous consumption during the December holiday season. A family may spend the year making kinaras or may create cards, dolls, or mkekas to give to their guests. Accepting a gift implies a moral obligation to fulfill the promise of the gift; it obliges the recipient to follow the training of the host. The gift cements social relationships, allowing the receiver to share the duties and the rights of a family member. Accepting a gift makes the receiver part of the family and promotes Umoja.

Excerpted from the book: The Complete Kwanzaa Celebrating Our Cultural Harvest. Copyright 1995 by Dorothy Winbush Riley. Reprinted with permission from HarperPerennial, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.

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