May 30th, 2012
In a post published Tuesday on his website, Davis was vague about his future political endeavors, but declared: “If I were to run, it would be as a Republican. And I am in the process of changing my voter registration from Alabama to Virginia, a development which likely does represent a closing of one chapter and perhaps the opening of another.”
Davis, who represented Alabama’s 7th Congressional District from 2003 to 2011, was notably the first member of Congress outside of Illinois to endorse then-Sen. Obama’s 2008 presidential bid. And it was Davis who seconded the official nomination of Obama at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
PHOTOS: The 2012 Medal of Freedom recipients
Along with making hints at the future, Davis reflected on his experiences as a Democrat, and condemned the path he believes the party is taking.
Renouncing the party “is no light decision on my part,” he wrote. “Cutting ties with an Alabama Democratic Party that has weakened and lost faith with more and more Alabamians every year is one thing; leaving a national party that has been the home for my political values for two decades is quite another.”
But “wearing a Democratic label no longer matches what I know about my country and its possibilities,” he said.
“On the specifics, I have regularly criticized an agenda that would punish businesses and job creators with more taxes just as they are trying to thrive again,” he said. “I have taken issue with an administration that has lapsed into a bloc by bloc appeal to group grievances when the country is already too fractured: frankly, the symbolism of Barack Obama winning has not given us the substance of a united country.”
Given Davis’ previous stances on pivotal Obama policies, his departure from the party can’t be too much of a surprise. Davis was the sole member of the Congressional Black Caucus to vote against Obama’s healthcare reform legislation in 2010. He also ran a relatively conservative campaign for the governorship of Alabama in 2010, but failed to win a primary battle against then-Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks, losing by a margin of 25 percentage points. After the loss, Davis declared he would no longer seek public office.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s campaign has heralded Davis’ retreat from the Democratic Party as evidence of “mounting opposition among Democrats to President Obama’s campaign message and tactics,” in a release sent out Wednesday.
May 30th, 2012
The New York Times / By NICHOLAS WADE
The tomato, whose genome has just now been decoded, turns out to be one well-endowed vegetable, possessing 31,760 genes. This rich legacy, possibly a reflection of the disaster that killed off the dinosaurs, is some 7,000 more than a person, and presents a complex puzzle to scientists who hope to understand its secrets.
A consortium of plant geneticists from 14 countries has spent nine years decoding the tomato genome in the hope of breeding better ones. The scientists sequenced the genomes of both Heinz 1706, a variety used to make ketchup, and the tomato’s closest wild relative, Solanum pimpinellifolium, which lives in the highlands of Peru, where the tomato’s ancestors originated. Their results were published online Wednesday in the journal Nature.
The tomato, though a fruit to botanists, has been decreed a vegetable by the United States Supreme Court. The verdict is not so unreasonable given that the tomato has a close cousin that is a vegetable, namely the potato. The genomes of the two plants have 92 percent of their DNA in common, the tomato researchers report. The main difference is that the potato is thought to have a handful of genes that direct the plant’s energy away from producing fruit and into the generation of tubers. But even with the genomes of the two plants deciphered, those genes have not yet been identified, said Daniel Zamir, a plant geneticist at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and one of the report’s two principal authors.
The tomato genome is both of intrinsic interest and a key to understanding the very versatile family of plants to which it belongs. Besides the potato, the Solanum family, as it is known, includes the tobacco plant, the pepper, the eggplant and deadly nightshade.
That the tomato and potato contain so many genes does not mean that they are more sophisticated than people but that they have chosen a different stratagem for managing their cells’ affairs. Humans make heavy use of a technique called alternative splicing, which allows the components of each gene to be assembled in many different ways, so that one gene can produce many products.
The Solanum family, by contrast, has developed its genetic complexity through gaining more genes. About 70 million years ago, some lucky mishap in the process of cell division led to a triplication of the Solanum genome. The two spare copies of each gene were free to change through mutation. Many were useless and got dropped from the genome, but others developed useful new functions.
The tomato genome team has been able to visualize the end result of this triplication by comparing the tomato’s genome to that of the grapevine, a distant relative from which it parted company about 100 million years ago, well before the triplication event. Some of the grape’s genes have a single counterpart in the tomato genome, some have two counterparts and some have three.
Usually the triplication of a genome would be a considerable handicap, saddling a plant with three times as much DNA as it needs. But this event occurred around the time of the catastrophe in which the dinosaurs perished, and the extra genetic versatility may have been a lifesaver. “It’s easy to think that in that period, with a lot of volcanic activity and little sunlight, the reservoir of a lot of additional genes would be useful to a plant,” said Jim Giovannoni, a plant geneticist at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research in Ithaca, N.Y., who led the American contribution to the tomato genome report.
Plant breeders have had more success breeding tomatoes with features of interest to producers, like long shelf life, than with the traits that matter to consumers, like taste and quality, Dr. Giovannoni said. The tomato genome sequence may help redress the balance, since plant breeders can now rely on DNA as well as physical traits to govern their breeding programs, he said.
May 30th, 2012
MIAMI — Newly released surveillance video shows three bicyclists pedaling past a naked man as he attacks a homeless man, biting into his face in broad daylight alongside a busy causeway.
The nearly 18-minute attack was captured by The Miami Herald's security cameras.
Police have released few details about Saturday's attack on the causeway that connects downtown Miami with Miami Beach. It's not clear what led Rudy Eugene to attack the homeless man, Ronald Poppo.
In the Herald video (http://hrld.us/N9GlGB), Eugene pulls Poppo from the shade, strips off his pants and pummels him. He hunches over Poppo and appears to lie on top of him. Three bicyclists pedal through the scene before a police officer drives up.
The officer fatally shot Eugene, but the shooting is obscured from view.
May 30th, 2012
President Obama has a long track record of insulting the Poles. In 2010 he chose to play golf on the day of the funeral of the Polish President Lech Kaczynski, the Polish First Lady, and 94 senior officials who perished in the Smolensk air disaster. Eight months earlier he humiliated Warsaw by pulling out of the agreement over Third Site missile defence installations in Poland and the Czech Republic. And last night Barack Obama caused huge offence in Poland by referring to a Nazi death camp in Poland as “a Polish death camp” while awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to a Polish resistance fighter. As ABC’s Jake Tapper reported:
Poles and Polish-Americans expressed outrage today at President Obama’s reference earlier to “a Polish death camp” — as opposed to a Nazi death camp in German-occupied Poland.
“The White House will apologize for this outrageous error,” Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski tweeted. Sikorski said that Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk “will make a statement in the morning. It’s a pity that this important ceremony was upstaged by ignorance and incompetence.”
The president had been trying to honor a famous Pole, awarding a Presidential Medal of Freedom to Jan Karski, a resistance fighter who sneaked behind enemy lines to bear witness to the atrocities being committed against Jews. President Obama referred to him being smuggled “into the Warsaw ghetto and a Polish death camp to see for himself.”
The Obama administration has tried to downplay the incident. According to ABC:
National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a statement, “The President was referring to Nazi death camps operated in Poland. The President has demonstrated in word and deed his rock-solid commitment to our close alliance with Poland.”
Weasel words from the White House will do little however to calm Polish anger. After all, these were carefully scripted remarks by the president reading off a teleprompter. Six millions Poles died at the hands of Nazi Germany during World War Two, including three million Polish Jews during the Holocaust. The president’s use of the term “Polish death camp” is hugely insulting to the Polish people, and will reinforce the growing image across Eastern and Central Europe of an American presidency that cares little for key US allies, especially against the backdrop of its controversial and weak-kneed “reset” policy towards Russia. For a US administration that likes to boast of “smart power,” this was an act of staggering historical ignorance as well as crass insensitivity.
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May 30th, 2012
By Mark Hosenball
WASHINGTON — Finally, there is definitive proof: The presidential candidate was born in the United States, and his father was not.
Yes, Republican Mitt Romney appears eligible to be president, according to a copy of Romney's birth certificate released to Reuters by his campaign. Willard Mitt Romney, the certificate says, was born in Detroit on March 12, 1947.
His mother, Lenore, was born in Utah and his father, former Michigan governor and one-time Republican presidential candidate George Romney, was born in Mexico.
So on a day when real estate and media mogul Donald Trump was trying to help Mitt Romney by stirring up a new round of questions about whether Democratic President Barack Obama was born in the United States, Romney's own birth record became a reminder that in the 1968 presidential campaign, his father had faced his own "birther" controversy.
Back then, George Romney - who died in 1995 - was a moderate who was challenging eventual President Richard Nixon in the Republican primaries.
Records in a George Romney archive at the University of Michigan describe how questions about his eligibility to be president surfaced almost as soon as he began his short-lived campaign.
In many ways, they appear to echo today's complaints that Trump and some other conservative "birthers" have made about Obama while questioning whether Obama - whose father was from Kenya and mother was from Kansas - was born in Hawaii.
In George Romney's case, most of the questions were raised initially by Democrats who cited the Constitution's requirement that only a "natural born citizen" can be president.
As early as February 1967 - a year before the first 1968 presidential primary - some newspapers were raising questions as to whether George Romney's place of birth disqualified him from the presidency.
By May 1967, U.S. congressman Emmanuel Celler, a Democrat who chaired the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, was expressing "serious doubts" about George Romney's eligibility.
The next month, another Democratic congressman inserted a lengthy treatise into the Congressional Record in which a government lawyer - writing in a "personal capacity" - argued that George Romney was ineligible for the White House because he was born outside U.S. territory.
In what today might seem like deja vu, eminent legal authorities soon were queuing up to argue in favor of George Romney's eligibility.
The New York Law Journal published a lengthy argument by a senior partner from Sullivan & Cromwell, one of Manhattan's elite law firms, arguing that the fact that both of George Romney's parents were U.S. citizens clearly established him as a "natural born citizen" who was eligible to be president.
George Romney himself was unequivocal.
"I am a natural born citizen. My parents were American citizens. I was a citizen at birth," he said, according to a typewritten statement found in his archives.
At one point, the Congressional Research Service - an arm of the Library of Congress that is supposed to provide authoritative but impartial research for elected members - advised that its analysts agreed with George Romney, according to a congressional source.
In a paper in November aimed at clarifying presidential eligibility, the Congressional Research Service declared that the practical, legal meaning of "natural born citizen" would "most likely include" not only anyone born on U.S. soil but anyone born overseas of at least one parent who was a U.S. citizen.
Romney's dance with Trump
Mitt Romney has tried to avoid getting caught up in Trump's focus on Obama's birthplace.
"Governor Romney has said repeatedly that he believes President Obama was born in the United States," said Eric Fehrnstrom, a senior adviser to Romney.
However, the presumed Republican nominee has not distanced himself from Trump, creating what some analysts said seems to be a quiet endorsement of Trump's efforts to raise questions about Obama among voters.
Michael Cohen, special counsel to Trump, said that Trump and Romney never talk about issues Trump has raised elsewhere regarding Obama's birth certificate. Instead they talk about jobs, the economy and other matters of public policy.
Asked whether Trump sees any double standard in going after Obama when Romney's father faced similar questions about his presidential eligibility, Cohen told Reuters: "I don't think (Trump) has ever thought about Mitt Romney's father's birth certificate."
Cohen said Trump recently revived the issue of Obama's birthplace because journalists asked him about the issue after a right-wing website published an old blurb for an Obama book that suggested that Obama was born in Kenya. The literary agent who wrote the blurb subsequently said it was written in error.
Cohen said Trump believes "the president of the United States should be the single most transparent human being on this planet. This president lacks that transparency."