Thursday, April 30, 2009

100 Days of Obama-Bashing on Fox



Watch President Obama's press conference on his first 100 days here.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Most Awful/ Amusing Picture Ever

Well, well, well. Now this is a conversation piece if I've ever seen one. Seriously, would you ever have pictured Speidi, from television show The Hills, and disgraced Gov. Rod Blagojevich to be photographed together - other then, say in a nightmare? Bizarro.

Word on the blogosphere block is that Blagojevich was set to be on the upcoming series of I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! with costars Spedi, Sanjaya, and a few other real winners when a federal judge stepped in and blocked Blagojevich from participating in the show. That has not stopped dear Blago from promoting the show and said photo is a result of brillant marketing.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Closing the Gap: Equal Pay Day

As many of you know, today is Equal Pay Day, a sobering day to recognize the differences in salary between men and women. According to the National Organization for Women, women's median annual paychecks reflected only 78 cents for every $1.00 earned by men in 2007. Oof!

Check out the facts:

• Women's median pay was less than men's in each and every one of the 20 industries and 25 occupation groups surveyed by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2007. Even men working in female-dominated occupations tend to earn more than women working in those same occupations.

• According to the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR), if equal pay for women were instituted immediately, across the board, it would result in an annual $319 billion gain nationally for women and their families (in 2008 dollars). Over her working life, a typical woman could expect to gain a total of $210,000 in additional income if equal pay were the norm (these numbers include part-time workers).

• One year after graduating college, women are paid on average only 80 percent of their male counterparts' wages, and during the next 10 years, women's wages fall even further behind, dropping to only 69 percent of men's earnings ten years after college.


Feel like punching a man in the face to protest this economical injustice? Do something constructive instead and encourage your representatives to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act and send it to the WH for the president's signature.

The Paycheck Fairness Act would require employers to show that any disparity in pay between men and women were due to factors other than gender and would bring the Equal Pay Act in line with other civil rights laws banning job discrimination.

Arlen Specter Switches It Up

Woohoo! The below article inspired me to literally break out into a spontaneous Filibustin’ dance move this afternoon. Arlen “Democrat-loving” Specter has always been on my short list of Republicans that I respect and admire.

And now, he has taken a step that puts Democrats even closer to passing climate change and immigration reform and NCLB reauth, oh my!

From Washpost:


Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter will switch parties and run for reelection next November as a Democrat, he announced today, a decision that could have wide-ranging consequences for the Senate and President Obama's agenda.

"Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right," Specter said in a statement released this morning. "Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans."


The move brings Democrats to 59 seats in the Senate, just one shy of the 60 they need to exert filibuster-proof control over the chamber. In Minnesota, Democrat Al Franken holds a 312-vote lead over former senator Norm Coleman (R), but Coleman has appealed the result to the state Supreme Court. Oral arguments in the case are expected to begin in June.


Specter's announcement, coming on the eve of Obama's 100th day in office, sent shockwaves through political circles.


Obama was informed of the decision at 10:30 a.m. today during his daily economic briefing. Minutes later he spoke to Specter by phone, telling him, "You have my full support," and adding, "We are thrilled to have you."


Read the rest of the article here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

How Many African Kids Could Celebrity Engagement Rings Feed?

So I'm not one to hate on another chica for her blinged-out engagement ring, but this story caught my attention. When my fiance (then boyfriend) sent me an article a year ago about how Debeers artificially increased the value of diamonds by stating that a man should spend 2 months salary on a ring, I initially thought "OK, homeboy just wants to be el cheapo." But there is much truth to it.

Westerners, celebrities in particular, spend a redunkulous amount of money each year on a needless object when they could be applying the money to take care of the most basic needs in the world.

According to Cat Walk Cat Fight, if celebrities donated as much money as they spend on diamond engagement rings, they'd feed millions of starving African children. It is estimated that 25,000 people die every day from hunger and related causes. Of those going without food, 230 million live in Sub-Saharan Africa. 25% of these people are children. What if we could take the decadence of celebrity and use it for good?

Check out the facts below. But we can't simply point fingers at celebrities, we must also look at our own waste and excesses compared to those less fortunate. To donate to the World Food Programme, the world's frontline organization fighting hunger, click here.

Valued at $500,000, Eva Longoria's ring would feed 10,000 starving African children for a year.



Valued at $2,500,000, Mariah Carey's ring would feed 50,000 starving African children for a year.



Valued at $4,700,000, Paris Hilton's ring would feed 90,000 starving African children for a year.



Valued at $5,000,000, Beyonce Knowles' ring would feed 100,000 starving African children for a year.

Nominate a Woman Of Worth

Nominate a Woman Of Worth and L'Oréal Paris will make a $5,000 donation to her most cherished charitable cause. L'Oréal will make an additional $5,000 donation in the name of each winner to support The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF), L'Oréal Paris primary philanthropy. To date, L'Oréal has raised over $18 million on behalf of OCRF to honor their commitment to women.

Additionally, one Woman Of Worth honoree and her cause will be selected by the public at large via online voting and will be recognized as the National Woman Of Worth Honoree. Her charity will receive a donation of $25,000 from L'Oréal Paris in her name. All honorees will receive national recognition for both her cause and her efforts.

Inspiration Behind Women of Worth
More than 30 years ago, L'Oréal coined the phrase "Because I'm Worth It" to celebrate a woman's worth and build her self-esteem. In 1997, as an extension of this sentiment, L'Oréal Paris proudly partnered with The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF) to raise money and awareness in the fight against ovarian cancer. Three Years ago our signature phrase and OCRF partnership came to life in a new way. L'Oréal established Women Of Worth - a grassroots program and award that honors women who serve others in their communities.

Who is a Woman Of Worth? She's an inspiring volunteer, an outstanding achiever, and a beautiful person who's making a difference in her community. Whether she's setting up literacy programs, organizing children's initiatives, or spearheading life-saving charitable organizations, her mind and door are always open. Her devotion is endless.

Nominations may be submitted until July 13, 2009. Tell L'Oréal Paris about a Woman of Worth whose volunteer work is making a beautiful difference here.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Sunday Funnies

Friday, April 24, 2009

HOT or NOT: The Week-In-Review

HOT: GOP Leader Boehner Accidentally Calls It "Torture." Boehner called a spade a spade this week, labeling the Bush administration’s "enhanced interrogation" tactics as “torture.” Later, Boehner clarified that the discussion of torture is "inappropriate" because it could "denigrate" the United States. Oopsies! It must torture him to keep all the lies straight.

NOT: Senate Repubs Block Confirmation Vote on Sebelius. Senate Republicans blocked the confirmation of Obama’s health secretary nominee Governor Kathleen Sebelius.

HOT: Obama Approval Rating Still High. According to a CNN poll, nearly two out of three Americans approve of the job that President Obama is doing.

NOT: Giant Island of Trash. Oprah’s Earth Day episode exposed footage on an island called “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.” The island is estimated to be twice the size of Texas and stretches from the coast of California to Japan. Clearly, this one's not on her list of favorite things.

HOT: CA First to Regulate Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Fuel. California adopted the world’s first regulation to limit greenhouse gas emissions from fuel. The regulation requires producers of gasoline and diesel to reduce the carbon intensity of their fuel by 10% over the next decade.

NOT: Youth Volunteering Drops for the First Time Since 9/11. Recent data shows that the percentage of teens who volunteer has recently dropped. In 2005, one out of three teens volunteered but in 2006, the rate dropped to 29% and then to 28% in 2007. Note to teens: Joining causes on facebook does not count as volunteering.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Rant of the Week: Bush Admin Torture = Epic Fail

So let me get this straight: The Bush Administration used torture techniques to force detainees to falsely confess to some sort of "link" between al Quaida and Saddam Hussein. Criminal. There really is nothing else to say.

Watch Bill O'Reilly get schooled by military officers on torture:

Negotiating Strategies for Women Leaders

On Wednesday, I attended an informal conversation led by UCLA Professor Amy Zegart on women salary negotiation strategies. Recent studies suggest that women are much more likely to negotiate on behalf of others than for themselves. Many women, like myself, feel hesitant about negotiating salaries for fear of being perceived as too pushy.

According to Women Don’t Ask, by not negotiating a first salary, an individual stands to lose more than $500,000 by age 60—and men are more than four times as likely as women to negotiate a first salary. Kathleen L. McGinn, a professor in the Negotiations, Organizations and Markets (NOM) group and a Director of Research at Harvard Business School, has studied the differences between men and women in salary negotiation techniques and claims that this may explain, at least partly, the gender salary gap.

Professor Zegart identified two main reasons why women don’t negotiate: 1) they compare themselves to other women and 2) they are fearful of being considered too aggressive. Women are much more likely to compare themselves to other women, a group that makes on average less money than men. Academic research attributes lower expectations amongst women to the entitlement effect. According to the research, if you bring men and women into a lab and say either one of two things: "Work until you think you've earned the $10 we just gave you," or "Work and then tell us how much you think you deserve," the women work longer hours with fewer errors for comparable pay, and pay themselves less for comparable work. But if there's a standard [that men and women know], then this result goes away.

Professor Zegart answered questions about when to negotiate, what to say and how. Some of her great tips are:

• Don’t be afraid to wear your wedding ring to an interview. Do what makes you feel comfortable.

• Don’t talk about salaries in a first interview. Wait until you have an offer to begin negotiations.

• Do your research on the company and the industry to get a sense of what they would pay for your position.

• Don’t expect that female supervisors will have your back. Sometimes you have to fight for a deserving salary with female supervisors as much, or more, than with male supervisors.

• When you’re asked an “illegal question” (your marital status, when you expect to get pregnant, etc), you can use humor to change the subject.

• Don’t be afraid to talk with supervisors if you are accumulating more responsibilities than expected to discuss a salary change and/ or title change that appropriately reflects your workload.

• Learn how to say “no” when you have too much on your plate.

• It’s all in your tone. Asking for a raise or bonus doesn’t have to appear too aggressive if you talk in a polite but firm way.

• Keep a running list of all of your projects and duties in a position so you can always present the information should you need to defend your accomplishments in the office.

• Understand that you sometimes have to “manage” the managers by asking them for quarterly or biannual reviews. This provides a forum for you to articulate concerns and find out how you can improve on a regular basis.

• If you know that the company is facing severe budget cuts, ask if there are non-monetary (vacation, office with a door, etc) benefits that can be put on the table and/ or ask the company to increase your salary by 20% (or some other percentage) after 6 months, when the budgetary outlook is more promising.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Green Is the New Black

Happy Earth Day, Guys & Dolls! Nothing encourages you to combat global warming more than trying to make it through ninety-eight degree weather in April. Oof! I must confess that yours truly has been playing the role of Goldilocks as of late. Just last week I was complaining that sixty-five degrees just wasn’t cutting it for my spring wardrobe and next thing you know I’m sticking my head in the freezer every five minutes to keep myself from boiling over. Who knew Los Angeles was allowed to get this HAWTTTT?!

Moving on. Here's a list of great, super-easy, and affordable tips on getting in touch with your inner Eco-chic. These tips are so doable that I realized that I've already been doing half of them on a regular basis. Your pocketbook and your environment will heart you. While it's clear that we need bold and commonsense legislative solutions to fight climate change, we each need to do our part. Be green and stay cool!


10 Eco-Chic Tips, courtesy of MSNBC.com:

1. Use natural cleaning products.
Safe cleaning products don’t have to be a luxury. Green Works natural cleaning products are made of plant-based, biodegradable ingredients like corn, coconut and lemon (which leave no harsh chemical fumes or residue) and are affordable and accessible — you can find them at supermarkets, drugstores and mass-market retailers.

2. Get your magazines digitally.
Zinio.com offers digital versions of more than 500 magazine titles like BusinessWeek, Cosmopolitan, Car & Driver, Men’s Health, Dwell, Outside and Yoga Journal. Download the Zinio Reader and read the magazines on your personal computer or access your subscriptions online from any computer at Zinio.com. Owners of iPhones can even access entire magazines through their phones. And in the spirit of budget consciousness, Zinio is offering a free one-year trial subscription to a wide selection of magazines so people can try the service.

3. Use a reusable water bottle.
You’ve filtered your water, now you need a reusable bottle to transport it. There are numerous safe and eco-friendly options from Sigg to Klean Kanteen to BPA-free Nalgene bottles. Check out Filter for Good for more information about the impact of bottled-water waste and to purchase a BPA-free reusable water bottle with the Filterforgood.com logo.

4. Get paid to recycle your electronics and keep them out of landfills.
Instead of tossing your gadgets in a landfill when you’re finished with them, get paid to recycle them. Services like www.buymytronics.com, www.myboneyard.com and www.greenphone.com will recycle or refurbish your electronics, which keeps them out of landfills. Simply mail them in and wait for your check.

5. Turn to eco-friendly materials for affordable fashion.
Stores you know and love are focusing on greener fashion. H&M has an extensive line of products made of organic cotton, recycled polyester and natural wool, American Apparel offers colorful, affordable organic basics and Payless recently introduced Zoe & Zac, an affordable, eco-friendly footwear and accessories line. And this spring, look for Loomstate’s eco-friendly collection at Target.

6. Update your wardrobe by connecting with fashionistas with garb to barter.
Swapstyle.com lets you swap accessories, cosmetics and shoes with fashionistas all over the globe for free (you only pay for shipping). You can also combine barter with cash to trade up while avoiding the full cost — both monetary and environmental — of consuming a new product.

7. Use a car-share service to drive without owning.
Enjoy the freedom of being in the driver’s seat while eliminating the expense of owning (or leasing) and maintaining a car by joining a car-share service. Zipcar lets members locate cars conveniently parked at designated spots around a city and reserve them for an hourly fee (typically between $10.50 and $16.50). The company estimates that each of its cars removes the equivalent of about 15 privately owned vehicles from the road.

8. Ride share to get where you want to go.
Another alternative to owning a car is to catch a ride with somebody else. Ride sharing not only saves you the cost of car ownership and maintenance, but also keeps additional cars off the road — a positive eco step. Zimride is a ride-share service built on the Facebook social networking platform that enables members to create personal profiles and select ride mates who share similar music tastes, favorite sports teams, or who just seem “normal.” Zimmers can also evaluate things like driving speed, music volume and smoking preferences before agreeing to hop in.

9. CDs, DVDs and books: Swap, don’t buy.
Now you can avoid buying new products (good for your wallet, great for the environment) without sacrificing your need for entertainment. Check out Swapacd.com, Swapadvd.com and Paperbackswap.com.

10. Shave with just seven drops.
You’ll live a life free from shaving cream with just seven drops of Pacific Shaving Oil. The natural oil (enhanced with essential oils) will give you the closest shave of your life, and a half-ounce bottle ($6.95) provides up to 100 shaves. The tiny bottle is ideal for air travel, too — perfect for stashing in your carry-on bag.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

AIPAC-Gate

From CNN.com

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A key Democrat who reportedly was overheard on a National Security Agency wiretap discussing a deal with a suspected Israeli agent has called the wiretap an "abuse of power."

Rep. Jane Harman, D-California, called on the Obama administration to release transcripts of the alleged conversations to her, saying she would make them public.

"I never had any idea that my government was wiretapping me at all," Harman said on CNN's "The Situation Room." "Three anonymous sources have told various media that this happened. And they are quoting snippets of allegedly taped conversations. So I don't know what these snippets mean. I don't know whether these intercepts were legal. And that's why I asked [Attorney General] Eric Holder to put it all out there in public."

Harman denied any wrongdoing and said she was outraged by news the National Security Agency had intercepted one of her conversations in 2005 or 2006.

"Many members of Congress talk to advocacy groups," she said. "My phone is ringing off the hook from worried members who think it could have happened to them. I think this is an abuse of power."

Allegations that Harman had made an inappropriate deal with a lobbyist for the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, first surfaced several years ago, but they were given fresh currency Sunday night when the Congressional Quarterly published new details on its Web site.

Sources told CNN this week the National Security Agency intercepted a conversation that Harman was participating in, but said Harman was not the intended target of the wiretap. The wiretap was lawful, the sources said.

CQ.com reported Harman was overheard on a National Security Agency wiretap telling a suspected Israeli agent she would lobby the Justice Department to reduce espionage-related charges against two AIPAC officials. In exchange for Harman's help, CQ.com reported, the suspected Israeli agent pledged to help lobby then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to appoint Harman chair of the Intelligence Committee after the 2006 elections.

According to one unnamed official cited by CQ.com, Harman hung up after saying, "This conversation doesn't exist."

Read the rest of article here.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Meghan McCain Keeps It Real

Speaking at a Log Cabin Republicans event on Saturday, Meghan McCain remarked that the GOP is scared of the changing times. McCain presented the internal struggle between the Republican party as one between "the future and the past."

She noted that embracing technology and social networks as Twitter and Facebook is not enough to revolutionize the party. According to McChild, what's needed is a commitment to policy solutions that seek to unite rather than divide our nation. Senator McCain's daughter commented:

I feel too many Republicans want to cling to past successes. There are those who think we can win the White House and Congress back by being 'more' conservative. Worse, there are those who think we can win by changing nothing at all about what our party has become. They just want to wait for the other side to be perceived as worse than us.

Oh. Yes. She. Did. McCain also publicly criticized Ann Coulter for being "overly partisan and divisive" and made reference to Rush Limbaugh's comments about not wanting our nation to succeed. I don't agree with Meghan McCain on every issue but I respect her hustle. Her honest sentiments speak to the tension between right-wingers and small gov'ment conservatives that has been brewing since Bushites hijacked the party in 2000.

She also represents the newest face of the Republican party - young adults who tend to be liberal on social issues but conservative on fiscal issues. What this means for the party is uncertain. Whether the teabaggers, evangelicals or some other GOP posse will prevail remains to be seen. In the meantime, kudos to Meghan for giving Republicans a much-needed dose of realidad. She certainly passes my test of exemplifying young, political and fabulous with flying colors.

Friday, April 17, 2009

HOT or NOT: The Week-In-Review

HOT: Obama’s Blueprint for High-Speed Passenger Rail Lines. The Obama administration unveiled their proposal for a national network of high-speed passenger rail lines aimed to reduce traffic congestion and dependence on foreign sources of oil. Looks like the U.S. is finally getting up to speed with other industrialized nations on clean and efficient travel.

NOT: Bush Admin Authorized Use of Insects in Interrogations. After Obama released Bush’s torture memos, it was revealed that the administration authorized the CIA to put insects inside a confinement box as part of their “harsh interrogation” practice. Seriously, it sounds like something out of one of those horrendous Saw films. Oy.

HOT: Blacks Hold Many Positions in Obama Administration. Ebony Magazine has highlighted the increased number of African-Americans in powerful positions within the White House. Twelve of Obama's most trusted and high-profile advisors are African-American - including Attorney General Eric Holder, Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice.

NOT: Fox News Admits Role in Tea Parties. Fox News Anchor Megyn Kelly mistakenly admitted that Fox News was one of the only orgs to give any publicity to the Tea Parties. Fair and balanced indeed.

HOT: Feingold Calls For Review of Patriot Act. Senator Feingold, member of the Senate Judciary Committee, called for a review of measures such as the Patriot Act, the Protect America Act, and the FISA Amendments Act that have expanded the power of the executive branch to spy on innocent Americans.

NOT: Texas Seccession? TX Governor Rick Perry commented that Texas had a right to secede from the U.S. at a rally on tax day as a result of the expansion of government and financial burden on Americans. Brillant.

Spotlight On Women Who Rock

On Thursday, I attended two fabulous discussions given by female political powerhouses. First, I attended an informal luncheon with Former State Senator Sheila Kuehl. Sheila was the first woman in California history to hold the position of Speaker pro tempore of the California State Assembly. In her fourteen years in the State Legislature, Senator Kuehl authored 171 bills that were signed into law, including legislation to establish paid family leave; overhaul California’s child support services system; further protect domestic violence victims and their children; prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender and increase the rights of crime victims.

In her talk, Sheila spoke about the rewarding experience of running for office and empowered students to seek careers in public service. She also addressed the toxic subject of the budget crisis in California and what is needed to put California on the road to economic recovery. She spoke candidly about the challenges and joys of running for office and what it takes to get elected. Really inspiring stuff.

In the evening, I attended a discussion and reception with Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi sponsored by the UCLA Law School Williams Institute. Nancy came to promote her book, “Know Your Power: A Message to America’s Daughters,” speak about being a woman in congress and answer questions about contemporary political issues and events. Another female first, Pelosi spoke about her transition from “housewife to the House speaker” and shared stories about being a mother of five and the highest-ranking woman in congress.

Speaker Pelosi encouraged young women to pursue political office and make their voices heard. She told a story from her book about how she once held three important party leadership positions at the same time and mentioned to a female mentor that she should give up one of her positions so that someone else could serve. Her mentor replied saying, "A man would never say that." The point of the story was that it is absolutely critical for women to embrace and know the power they hold. Both women were charismatic, down-to-earth and committed to helping the next generation of women leaders enter the field of politics and public policy.

The above picture is a photo of us policy chicks with our signed books by Nancy Pelosi. Woot!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Rant of the Week: Repubs Suddenly Concerned About Fiscal Responsibility

On tax day, thousands of "teabaggers" held rallies all over the country to express faux outrage over President Obama's economic policies. On the capitol steps in Sacramento, a predominately white and Republican crowd chanted, "No More Bail Outs! No More Stimulus! No More Taxes!" On the other side of the country, protesters held signs in Washington, DC that read "Commander in Thief" and "Party like it's 1773."

Grassroots movement it was not. The turnout across the nation was far from expected. Major cities like Chicago and Cincinnati, which were expecting crowds in the hundreds of thousands, only registered four or five thousand people. What's more, NYT columnist Paul Krugman has questioned the validity of this "movement" by revealing that the tea parties have been funded by Republican-led think tanks as FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity. No one saw that coming.

Now, I love the First Amendment just as much as the next American but these right-wing rebels did not seem to make any fuss when Bush was spending their hard-earned mulah willy-nilly over the past eight years. During his administration, Bush presided over the largest increase in inflation-adjusted federal spending since Lyndon B. Johnson. Even after excluding defense-related spending, Bush is the biggest-spending president in about 30 years. Within his first term in office, total government spending grew by 33 percent. Ouch.

Despite Republicans' sudden interest in cutting government spending, recent polls suggest that more than half of Americans agree with the way President Barack Obama has handled the economy thus far. In response to the teabaggery, Obama said that he is providing 95% of families with a tax break and that the issue of taxes has been used "to scare people into supporting policies that increased the burden on working people instead of helping them live their dreams."

So why are Republicans pulling the libertarian card out now? The majority of those huffing and puffing will receive some form of a tax break from the federal government. Hmm.. I have a sneaking suspicion that this has very little to do with taxes after all. Then again, coming up with a legitimate dispute has never been the Republicans' cup of tea. Badum tish.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Get Out the Popcorn

Word on the street (aka Huffpost) is that HBO is set to adapt a film on the 2008 election. The film would be based on a book, "Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime," that is to be published early next year.

HBO has hired Charles Leavitt, "Blood Diamond" scribe, to adapt the behind-the-scenes look from the perspective of the candidates and their campaign strategists. Co-Author Mark Halperin will be a consultant for the film and is editor-at-large at Time magazine. Halperin remarked:

Focusing on those characters went to the essence of why this was the campaign of a lifetime, not just for the candidates, but for the country.

Even though I know that this film has a happy ending, the idea of having to relive lipstick on pigs, Cindy McCain's clothing choices, election maps and the Obama-Clinton(s) drama kinda makes me want to burst into tears. Too soon, HBO. Too soon. If they don't cast Tina Fey as Sarah Palin, I'm boycotting. Check out who I would cast in the movie here.

Obama Lifts Restrictions on Cuba

From Huffingtonpost.com:

WASHINGTON — In a measured break with a half-century of U.S. policy toward communist Cuba, the Obama administration lifted restrictions Monday on Cuban-Americans who want to travel and send money to their island homeland.


In a further gesture of openness, U.S. telecommunications firms were freed to seek business there, too. But the broader U.S. trade embargo remained in place.


The White House portrayed its changes, which fulfilled one of President Barack Obama's campaign promises, as a path to promoting personal freedom in one of the few remaining communist nations. They also marked another major step away from the foreign policy priorities of the Bush administration.


But the moves fell far short of the more drastic policy adjustments that some _ including Republican Sen. Richard Lugar _ have argued are required to promote U.S. interests in Latin America and to bring about change in Cuba. For most Americans, Cuba remains the only country in the world their government prohibits them from visiting _ a barrier to potential travelers as well as to the Cuban tourist industry that would like to see them.


Read rest of article here. Ahhhhh. Isn't it refreshing to have a President committed to promoting democracy and human rights in other countries?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Monthly Top Ten: 10 Women Empowerment Songs

So I recently came upon an old cd I made for a girls night in with my chicas a couple of years ago. It’s a great cd for those times you need an empowerment lift to make it through the day.

I added a few songs so check out the vids and download the tunes. It also makes for a great gift for your girlfriends.

10. Natasha Bedingfield, Unwritten: Great song for finding your inner-strength.

9. TLC, No Scrubs: An oldie but a goody. Perfect for cruisin with your gals.

8. Mary J. Blige, No More Drama: Letting go of the drama. Nuff' said.

7. Indie Arie, I’m Not Your Average Girl: Love thyself. Embrace the faults.

6. Carrie Underwood, Before He Cheats: Oh yes. The vent song.

5. Beyonce Knowles, Single Ladies: Wohohoho...

4. Jill Scott, Golden: Puts a smile on your face and a spring in your step.

3. Alicia Keys, A Woman’s Worth: Classic. Used to play this one over n' over.

2. Chaka Kahn, I’m Every Woman: What's women empowerment without some Chaka Kahn.

1. Desiree, Ya Gotta Be Stronger: Keeps you goin as you conquer the world. Woot!


Cross-posted on http://www.toptentopten.com/

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Rant of the Week: Television Families Don’t Reflect Modern Day Families

Back in the day, a husband could moderately support his family on a middle-management salary while the wife stayed at home with the children, as seen in the television shows of the 50s and 60s. Today, with wages not having kept pace with increased housing, healthcare, food and tuition costs, this scenario has become more of the exception than the rule. And yet, modern day television sitcoms just don’t seem to get it.

Unless the show is about a working class or minority family, shows like the Simpsons, According to Jim, Til’ Death and Family Guy continue to portray middle-class families that are solely dependent on one income. If the Simpsons were a real-life family today, they would be homeless. They would be on the street. Period. There’s no way that their basic needs would be met on Homer’s job at a power plant. He probably would have been laid off and eventually their house would have been foreclosed upon.

Even before the recession of the last few years, only upper-income families really had the luxury to experience stay-at-home-mom-dom. For the average middle class family, even if the mother wanted to stay at home with the kids, she found herself eventually having to go back to work or work on a part-time basis to supplement the husband’s salary. In 1950 about one in three women participated in the US labor force. By 1998, nearly three of every five women of working age were in the US labor force. A few recent shows, such as Cashmere Mafia and Lipstick Jungle, seem to wrestle with the double-income phenomenon although they appear to present an idealized image of the “woman who can do it all” – be fashionable, gorgeous, a wife, a mother and a successful career woman on the move. Television does not have to completely mirror our world but it would be nice if it were close.

Maybe television shows are trying to hearken back to another time - a simpler time - when families didn’t have to juggle work schedules, the search for affordable and quality child care, exorbitant housing and healthcare costs, tuition bills and the gender roles were clearly defined. Or maybe, like deserving salaries, they’re still stuck in the 1950s.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

OMG, the Prez is Like Totally My BFF

The CW has announced the premiere of the new "reality" series Blonde Charity Mafia starring young Washington, D.C. socialites. The show was originally set to appear on the Lifetime network before Project Runway, but that deal fell through.

According to the CW network, it will feature DC's most influential "20-something Alpha Girls" who "run the D.C. social circuit from charity events to society parties."

Hated it. But - alas - like any other faux reality series, I’ll find myself watching it, screaming at the television for the entirety of the show and then making a point to watch it the next week. That’s how I got sucked into The Hills and the Real Housewives of Orange County series - and now watch both shows religiously (Le sigh). What is it about these shows that the more I loathe them, the more I am actually attracted to them? I'm convinced that the reality television phenomenon is simply a social experiment in how to dumb down seemingly intelligent people.

Blonde Charity Mafia will premiere on Tuesday, July 7 at 9pm ET and run through August 4.

NUTZO ALERT: Michelle Bachmann Strikes Again

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, best known for her call for an investigation of Barack Obama and members of Congress perceived anti-American bias during the 2008 elections, has provided us with another little gem of insight.

On a Minnesota radio station this past weekend, Bachmann referred to the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act as an attempt by the administration to promote a “philosophical agenda.” The Act, which was approved by the Senate on March 26, 2009, aims to expand national community service programs in the areas of education, clean energy, health care and veterans. In her comments, she warned that the bill could lead to … wait for it…. “re-education camps for young people.” Check out the comments in full:

I believe that there is a very strong chance that we will see that young people will be put into mandatory service. And the real concerns is that there are provisions for what I would call re-education camps for young people, where young people have to go and get trained in a philosophy that the government puts forward and then they have to go to work in some of these politically-correct forums.

Heaven forbid, young people are taught how to serve their communities! And just to up the nutzo factor – media outlets have revealed that Rep. Bachmann’s 6th district of Minnesota has experienced the most foreclosures of any of Minnesota’s eight congressional districts. Bachmann has consistently voted against foreclosure relief and has not sponsored any legislation to help struggling homeowners facing foreclosure. Clearly, if anyone needs re-education, it’s this woman.

Monday, April 6, 2009

What’s Your First Lady Style?

Because I was once obsessed with Seventeen magazine quizzes during my high school years, I created my own quiz inspired by fab First Lady fashion.

Yes, I know that these quizzes never reveal any earth-shattering revelations or aha-moments about your inner-psyche but let’s face it; they are just plain fun to do. So enjoy!

1. Your favorite shopping store is…
a. Ann Taylor
b. White House Black Market
c. Thrift Store
d. Vera Wang

2. Your old college roommate invites you to her evening wedding. You wear…
a. A silk cream-colored dress with faux wrap
b. An elegant suit
c. A colorful dress paired with a statement necklace or broach
d. A classic warm-colored dress with pearls

3. Your favorite thing to do in your free time is…
a. Spend QT with family and friends
b. Read a book
c. Go to a museum or a play at the local theatre
d. Free time? What’s that?

4. You overslept and need to rush to make it to work. You…
a. Forget about any primping and high-tail it to the nearest starbucks
b. Quickly dab on some lipgloss and keep it moving
c. Take a few minutes to inspect your do and apply on your mascara and foundation
d. Forget about making it on time! The most important part of your day is deciding what color eye shadow goes best with your outfit.

5. Your favorite colors to wear are…
a. Neutrals
b. Bright colors like purple and turquoise
c. Warm colors like red and burnt orange
d. Anything pastel

17-20 Michelle Obama: Fashion Trendsetter. You are a First-Lady of Fashion who loves trying out new colors and accessories with beautiful basics. When you step into a room, people are immediately enamored with your personable smile and flawless fashion sense.


13-16 Jackie Kennedy: Radiantly Retro. You’re an artsy mama who is a 60’s girl at heart. You are living proof that old school poise and glam never dies out!


9-12 Laura Bush: Classic Beauty. You are a simply elegant chica who loves a classically chic style and has a great appreciation for the simple things in life.


5-8 Hillary Clinton: Pretty in a Pantsuit. You’re a low-maintenance Betty who always looks well put together. You’re admired for your commitment to accomplish your goals and get the job done!


Add it up!: 1) a-1, b-4, c-3, d-2; 2) a-3, b-1, c-4, d-2; 3) a-4, b-2, c-3, d-1; 4) a-1, b-2, c-4, d-3; 5) a-1, b-4, c-2, d-3

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Sunday Funnies

Friday, April 3, 2009

HOT or NOT: The Week-In-Review

HOT: Al Franken's Senate seat race finally reaches the finish line because he's good enough, smart enough, and gosh darn it people love him. After months of legal battles, the state Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday with Franken and rejected Coleman's call to count up to 1,400 absentee ballots that he claimed had been incorrectly rejected. Not lookin good, Coley.

NOT: Michelle Touches Queen Frenzy. The British press could barely keep it together on Thursday after it was revealed that First Lady Michelle Obama had the audacity to give Queen Elizabeth a side hug. Gasp! But, according to Buckingham Palace staff, the Queen was digging the unthinkable gesture and they denied there are rules about touching the Queen.

HOT: Colin Powell on GOP. In yet another sign that Colin Powell is a rational thinker, Powell recently shared that he thinks the Republican counterbudget is just not practical. Powell noted that the Republican provisions to freeze government have "gone too far."

NOT: Al Sharpton didn’t pay taxes 2002-07. Seriously, does no one pay taxes anymore? According to the NYP, Reverend Al Sharpton owed at least $1.8 million in back taxes and penalities. Last summer, he was able to cut a deal with federal prosecutors in Brooklyn to end criminal probe of his finances.

HOT: Mexico Drug War Death Toll Declines. On Thursday, Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora stated that the death toll connected to Mexico's drug war has dropped by about 25 percent in the first three months of this year from the last quarter of 2008. College spring breakers everywhere are shouting with joy.

And here's Our Fabulous Political Video of the Week:

Thursday, April 2, 2009

An EPIC Night for Women’s Leadership

On Monday night, The White House Project hosted their annual EPIC Awards ceremony at U.N. Headquarters in New York City. The EPIC Awards celebrates the voice and vision of innovators whose lives have shown other women what is possible—as well as those who use media and culture to help women see on-screen what they can’t see very often in the world: women leading at every level.

CNN anchor and Special Correspondent Soledad O’Brien hosted the night’s festivities. She remarked at the start of the night, “In my work as an anchor and correspondent at CNN, I have witnessed the powerful impact that images—on screen and in real life—can have on the ambitions and aspirations of our young people.” Award presenters included Pay Equity Pioneer Lilly Ledbetter; New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand; and Academy-Award winning actress and White House Project Board Member Geena Davis, all committed to the work of The White House Project to advance women’s leadership.

Awardees included:

--Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye (Ret.), the first woman to serve on New York State’s highest court, accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award for her visionary commitment to the courts and the people of New York State.

--Lifetime Network’s Every Woman Counts Campaign, received an EPIC Award for their pioneering public service campaign dedicated to encouraging women to speak out on the issues they care about most, vote and run for office.

--Voto Latino received an EPIC Award for the outstanding impact they have had in the last four years on the next generation of Latinas. Actress Rosario Dawson, Co-Founder and María Teresa Petersen, Executive Director accepted the award.


At the close of the evening, Atlanta City Council President and White House Project Board Member Lisa Borders said, "We know that times are tough. But we also know that tough times often offer the best opportunities to invest wisely - and investing in the future of women is among the soundest investments you can make.”

Rant of the Week: Teleprompter Tales

Media commentators and bloggers have been making much ado about nothing lately concerning President Barack Obama’s teleprompter usage. Rush Limbaugh recently remarked, “off prompter, Obama can’t speak.”

A Facebook group called Barack Obama’s Teleprompter has emerged and now has over 1,500 members. The group blurb states, “I have a full-time job in telling President Barack Obama what do say. Since he can't do without me wherever he goes, I work often! However, I still manage to find a little time to get on Facebook."

Hm, I’m not sure if these folks remember the little thing called the presidential debates, in which Barack Obama presented his vision for America sans teleprompter (and won all three rounds, mind you). Is it such a bad thing for a President to appear prepared and polished in his speeches? Or should we simply expect a certain amount of bushisms a la Dubya’s “off-the-cuff” style? Obama spent nearly two years on the campaign trail giving speeches largely without a teleprompter, not to mention his Harvard law education and background as a constitution professor. Do we really have to question whether he can speak without some sort of technological aid? As our nation's top representative, it is imperative that the President be cautious and careful about the words that come out of his mouth.

This latest right-wing criticism screams of desperation. Surely, there are ideological disagreements that Republicans can articulate based on real policy concerns and the actual substance of his speeches. This cheap attack just makes them look like small-minded sore losers.