April 2nd, 2012
ABC News / By Devin Dwyer
But today Obama didn’t pass up an opportunity when asked about GOP frontrunner’s claims, made over the weekend, that the president does not believe in the “exceptionalism” of the U.S.
“It’s worth noting that I first arrived on the national stage with a speech at the Democratic Convention that was entirely about American exceptionalism and that my entire career has been a testimony to American exceptionalism,” Obama said at an afternoon Rose Garden press conference.
“But, you know, I will cut folks some slack for now because they’re still trying to get their nomination,” he added, without mentioning Romney by name.
During a Saturday speech in Pewaukee, Wisc., Romney questioned Obama’s commitment to the view of America as a unique and unrivaled world power sustained by the values of free enterprise.
“Our president doesn’t have the same feelings about American exceptionalism that we do,” Romney said Saturday. “And I think over the last three or four years, some people around the world have begun to question that. On this Tuesday, we have an opportunity — you have an opportunity — to vote, and take the next step in bringing back that special nature of being American.”
Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia all hold primary votes on Tuesday.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon, who joined Obama in the Rose Garden on Monday, declined to respond to Romney’s claim that America’s influence has declined under Obama.
But Harper praised the president and the U.S. for its leadership over the past three years.
“For Canada, the United States is and always will be our closest neighbor, our greatest ally and our best friend. And I believe that American leadership is at all times great and indispensable for the world,” Harper said.
“We had under your leadership, Barack, that successful intervention in Libya. Our trade relationship is the biggest in the world and growing. And so I think it’s been a tremendous partnership,” he said.
More From ABC News
April 2nd, 2012
Good Morning America
By MATT GUTMAN
Enhanced video footage of George Zimmerman being taken into custody less than 30 minutes after he shot and killed Florida teenTrayvon Martin shows the neighborhood watch captain with an injury to the back of his head.
The never-before-seen evidence of an injury to Zimmerman, in this case a gash or mark to his head, would appear to back his claim that he shot Martin in self defense after he was attacked by Martin on the night of Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla
Zimmerman, 28, claims Martin, 17, punched him in the nose, knocked him down and repeatedly slammed his head into the ground.
The police surveillance video, first obtained exclusively by ABC News last month and clarified by Forensic Protection, Inc., shows Zimmerman exiting the police cruiser with his hands cuffed behind his back. Zimmerman is frisked and then led down a series of hallways, still cuffed. At one point, one of the officers stops to look briefly at the back of Zimmerman's head.
There was no obvious sign of any injury to Zimmerman's head or face on the video until it was enhanced. But the enhanced video does not show any visible injury to Zimmerman's nose, nor any signs of blood on his shirt.
The initial police report noted that Zimmerman was bleeding from the back of the head and nose, and his lawyer later claimed that Zimmeran suffered a broken nose. After receiving medical attention at the scene of the shooting, it was decided that he was in good enough condition to travel in a police cruiser to the Sanford, Fla., police station for questioning. He did not check into the emergency room following the police questioning.
The surveillance tape of Zimmerman, later released by the Sanford Police Department, could be used as evidence if Zimmerman is brought up on charges, sources tell ABC News.
Zimmerman's lawyer, Craig Sonner, has said his client felt "one of them was going to die that night," when he pulled the trigger.
The case has gained national prominence with rallies across the country demanding that Zimmerman be arrested and charged with murder.
Lawyers for Martin's family sent a letter to the Justice Department today asking that the federal probe into the killing look into the fact that Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee met with State Attorney Norm Wolfinger on the night of shooting. Lawyer Benjamin Crump also claims in the letter that members of Zimmerman's family were also present in the police station that night.
The lead homicide investigator, Chris Serino, wrote in an affidavit that he recommended manslaughter charges be brougth against Zimmerman but was advised by the prosecutor not to file charges because there was not enough evidence for a conviction, sources have told ABC News.
"We look forward to your thorough and comprehensive review of the suspicious circumstances surrounding this meeting," Crump wrote.
State prosecutors are expected to go before a Seminole County grand jury on April 10 to determine what, if any, files should be charged.
An analysis of a 911 call done over the weekend by the Orlando Sentinel determined that screams for help overhead on a 911 came from Martin, although Zimmerman's family insist they recognize his voice in the screams.
Two evidence experts consulted by the Sentinel found the voice heard in a 911 call placed by a woman in a home near where the shooting occurred was only a 48 percent match to Zimmerman's voice. One of the experts, Tom Owen, told the Sentinel to reach a positive match he would expect higher than 90 percent.
"As a result of that, you can say with reasonable scientific certainty that it's not Zimmerman," Owen told the paper.
Owen,the chair emeritus at the American Board of Record Evidence, was not able to determine if the voice was that of Martin, the Sentinel reports, because he did not have audio of the teen's voice to compare to the shouts for help in the 911 call.
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April 2nd, 2012
Wired Science / By Neil deGrasse Tyson
The chances that your tombstone will read “Killed by Asteroid” are about the same as they’d be for “Killed in Airplane Crash.”
Solar System debris rains down on Earth in vast quantities — more than a hundred tons of it a day. Most of it vaporizes in our atmosphere, leaving stunning trails of light we call shooting stars. More hazardous are the billions, likely trillions, of leftover rocks — comets and asteroids — that wander interplanetary space in search of targets.
Most asteroids are made of rock. The rest are metal, mostly iron. Some are rubble piles — gravitationally bound collections of bits and pieces. Most live between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter and will never come near Earth.
But some do. Some will. More than a thousand known asteroids are classed as “potentially hazardous,” based on size and trajectory. Currently, it looks doable to develop an early-warning and defense system that could protect the human species from impactors larger than a kilometer wide. Smaller ones, which reflect much less light and are therefore much harder to detect at great distances, carry enough energy to incinerate entire nations, but they don’t put the human species at risk of extinction.
Every few decades, on average, house-sized impactors collide with Earth. Typically they explode in the atmosphere, leaving no trace of a crater. Once in about a hundred million years, though, Earth is visited by an impactor capable of annihilating all life-forms bigger than a carry-on suitcase.
One killer asteroid we’ve been monitoring is Apophis, which is large enough to fill the Rose Bowl. On Friday the 13th, April 2029, it will dip below the altitude of our communication satellites. If its trajectory on that day passes within a narrow range of altitudes called the “keyhole,” then the influence of Earth’s gravity on its orbit will guarantee that seven years later, in 2036, on its next trip around the Sun, the asteroid will hit Earth directly, likely slamming into the Pacific Ocean. The tsunami it creates will devastate all the coastlines of the Pacific Rim. If Apophis misses the keyhole in 2029, we’ll have nothing to worry about in 2036.
A more recent discovery, half the size of Apophis, is expected to pass Earth at a distance of a million miles in 2023 and ten million miles in 2028, has been stirring up the scaremongers but rates only a 1 on the 1–10 scale of impact hazards. Unscarily named 2011 AG5, it will become much more visible and trackable during 2013. Earth’s gravity could conceivably convince it to collide with us in 2040, but NASA deems that a remote chance.
Some people would like to blow potentially hazardous rocks out of the sky with a nuclear bomb. Others would deploy a radiation-intensive neutron bomb (the Cold War–era bomb that kills people but leaves buildings intact) to induce a recoil and alter the asteroid’s orbit. A kindler, gentler approach would be to nudge it into a different orbit with slow but steady rockets that have somehow been attached to one side — or with a solar sail, which harnesses the pressure of sunlight for its propulsion.
The odds-on favorite solution, however, is the gravitational tractor. This involves parking a probe in space near the killer asteroid. As their mutual gravity draws the probe to the asteroid, an array of retro rockets fires, instead causing the asteroid to draw toward the probe and off its collision course with Earth.
Saving the planet requires commitment. First we have to catalogue every object whose orbit intersects Earth’s, then task our computers with carrying out the calculations necessary to predict a catastrophic collision hundreds or thousands of orbits into the future. Meanwhile, space missions would have to determine in great detail the structure and chemical composition of killer comets and asteroids.
If humans one day become extinct from a catastrophic collision, we would be the laughing stock of aliens in the galaxy, for having a large brain and a space program, yet we met the same fate as that pea-brained, space program-less dinosaurs that came before us.
April 2nd, 2012
By Barry Secrest
President Obama, in a press conference today, stated that he was confident that the Supreme Court would uphold the Healthcare law, because the mandate was in accordance with "uh....precedent out there" and because "it's Constitutional."
Obama further stated, "That's just not my opinion, by the way, but that's based upon legal experts across the ideological spectrum...uh...including two very conservative appellate court justices, uh....that said this wasn't even a close case."
Indeed, many would agree with the President that it's not a close case, but for differing reasons that go towards the prevailing initial arguments of the Justices. Those arguments being, that if the Government can make you buy a health policy and call it interstate commerce, where is it even possible to draw the line in future possible government mandates?
Justice Scalia had indicated that the Government, under Obama's mandate reasoning, could then "force individuals to buy broccoli." Chief Justice Roberts went even further in asking if the government could also "force individuals to buy cell phones," while Justice Kennedy indicated that the mandate would change the relationship between the Federal Government and the citizen "in a very fundamental way."
The President then went through a litany of arguments trying to resell the mandate based upon availability of healthcare and the fact that 2.6 million Americans now have coverage that ordinarily wouldn't have had coverage. No doubt this was a veiled allusion to the fact that Obama's economic efforts have largely failed in producing jobs for young people, which would have helped them procure their own coverage rather than being continuously dependent upon their parents, as the real unemployment rate has stalled at approximately 15%.
Obama also repeatedly referenced a "lack of healthcare" when the Obamacare mandate, rather than focusing on ways to provide affordable insurance coverage to the uninsured, has actually focused on mangling the policies of those who already had coverage and who were exceedingly satisfied with it. In essence, rather than focusing on actual healthcare, Obama's mandate has focused on the method of providing insurance for healthcare coverage in the form of financial protections and security.
Obama went further in noting that many people are now receiving preventative care who were not in the past, while failing to note that preventative care measures, especially for women, have been scaled back considerably in the form of recommended intervals for PAP screenings and mammograms. Men, also, weren't left out of the worsening intervals due to an expanded recommendation for prostate screenings being widened out considerably. While Obama stated that prescriptions were now cheaper for Seniors, which is arguable, Obama left out some of the newly restricted, yet proven cancer medications such as Avastin, which has now been ruled as not covered under FDA guidelines, largely due to the expense to the government being deemed as unacceptable.
While Obama states that there are now 30 million people who stand to gain coverage from Obamacare, Obama somehow must have missed the recent Associated Press article which stated that the number of uninsured is actually about 15 million, rather than the 30 million number we have been hearing for three years. Which is, oddly enough, about equal to some estimations for the amount of illegal aliens who still reside within the US.
But finally, Obama stated that he hoped that the Supreme Court would not take the unprecedented, extraordinary step, of overturning a law that was passed by "a ...uh....strong majority of a Democratically elected Congress." And in this particular Obama point, we wonder if Obama believes that the Supreme Court is totally unaware of the sausage making aspect of getting this particular law to pass, behind closed and locked doors where the opposition party had absolutely no input whatsoever and bribes were used continually to gain approval from unbelieving moderate Democrats.
We also wonder if the "shellacking" that the Democrats received, as a result of Obamacare's passage in the 2010 elections, will also escape the Supreme Court's deliberation on the mandate with nearly two thirds of all Americans, even now, being fully against the disastrous Obamacare mandate. But Obama didn't stop there, when he sharply criticized what the Court might do by calling out Conservatives who ordinarily take issue with bench activism, despite Obama's avowed love of the Roe v. Wade decision, which made abortion legal, a generation earlier.
The simple fact is that the Supreme Court is not making law when it rules on the constitutionality of such laws, it's simply doing its job as one of the three separate powers of a government, supposedly dedicated to checks and balances. Obama's words today should only be seen as one branch of the government trying to exercise its power over another in the form of public posturing and pressuring.
What Obama does not realize, also, is that such public and active aggressiveness against an equal branch of government that holds all of the cards is probably a very unwise invective to undertake, all things being equal.
And yet, who would ever accuse the Obama administration of being wise?
April 2nd, 2012
BLS Note: Told Ya'.....Does this qualify me to be National Security Adviser since I obviously know more about the Muslim Brotherhood than the US Government? Hey! Just saying......
From Mohamed Fadel Fahmy
Cairo, Egypt (CNN) -- The political arm of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood has announced plans to run one of its leaders in the country's presidential elections in May, reversing an earlier pledge to stay out of the race.
The once-banned Islamist movement will be represented by Khairat al-Shater, a longtime financial backer, the Brotherhood announced over the weekend. Al-Shater has resigned from his post as deputy chairman to join the already crowded field of presidential candidates, group said.
The jail terms he served under ex-Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak had been an obstacle that would have kept him off the ballot. But the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which took power after the 2011 uprising that toppled Mubarak, pardoned him Sunday, his lawyer, Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsood, told CNN.
The Muslim Brotherhood has pledged repeatedly that it would not field a presidential candidate. But candidates from its political arm, the Freedom and Justice party, won the largest share of seats in Egypt's parliamentary elections in December. And Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie said Saturday the new Egypt "is under a serious threat" because its current, military-led government "has failed to represent the will of the people."
More than 450 people have already registered or announced plans to seek the presidency. Among them are former Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa -- who served as Mubarak's foreign minister -- and Ayman Nour, an opposition leader jailed by Mubarak and recently pardoned as well.
The field also includes other Islamist presidential hopefuls, including the ultra-conservative Salafist candidate Hazem Abu Ismael and former Muslim Brotherhood member Abdel Moneim Abou El Fettouh, who broke with the Muslim Brotherhood over what he called its authoritarian style.
Al-Shater is a furniture and textile magnate who has led the Brotherhood's business association. Though considered a conservative, he is also credited with being the driving force behind the Brotherhood's affirmation that Egypt should continue to honor its international agreements -- including its peace treaty with Israel.
Liberals and secularists who led the uprising against Mubarak fear that a victory in the presidential elections, the first round of which begins May 23, may lead the Brotherhood to impose a fundamentalist Islamic agenda on Egypt.
"Their stance continues to change as they strengthen their political position," socialist activist Sherif Maher said. "They were patient after Mubarak fell and announced that they would not seek more than 20% of the seats in parliament. The number went up to 30, and now they have won more than half of the constituent assembly."
But Rami Shaath, a founding member of the Egyptian Revolutionary Alliance, said al-Shater's entry into the race may be a bid to make an example of Aboul Fettouh, "who had defected against their will."
"Aboul Fettouh is championed by the revolutionaries and not favored by the military," Shaath said. "They also want to make a point to the youth of the Brotherhood that abandoning the group may cripple one's ambition."
In March, the Muslim Brotherhood blasted the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces for holding onto power despite the parliamentary elections and questioning whether the generals would try to rig the presidential vote. In a rare and charged public response, the generals hit back against what they called a "baseless slander" and an "unacceptable" challenge to the legitimacy of elections.
Al-Shater is a 61-year-old civil engineer who became a millionaire businessman. He has been involved with Islamist groups since the late 1960s, according to his official biography, and was jailed for five years by a military court during a crackdown on Islamist movements in the mid-1990s.
In 2007, he was charged with providing funds and weapons to college students and imprisoned again. He was still behind bars when the regime fell in February 2011, and the military junta that took power from Mubarak released him for medical reasons a month later. Before Sunday's pardon, that record could have disqualified him from the race.
CNN's Ben Wedeman contributed to this report.