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January 28, 2014

Warhol\’s photo legacy spread by university exhibits

Warhol’s photo legacy spread by university exhibits

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Portrait shot of Dennis Hopper, famous for his role in the 1969 film Easy Rider, amongst the Warhol Polaroids donated to USI by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.
Image: Andy Warhol.

Opening night, January 23, 2014, of the Andy Warhol exhibit of Polaroids and screen prints at the University of Southern Indiana.
Video: Miharris & Acphillips.

Evansville, Indiana, United States — This past week marked the opening night of an Andy Warhol exhibit at the University of Southern Indiana. USI’s art gallery, like 189 other educational galleries and museums around the country, is a recipient of a major Warhol donor program, and this program is cultivating new interest in Warhol’s photographic legacy. Wikinews reporters attended the opening and spoke to donors, exhibit organizers and patrons.

The USI art gallery celebrated the Thursday opening with its display of Warhol’s Polaroids, gelatin silver prints and several colored screen prints. USI’s exhibit, which is located in Evansville, Indiana, is to run from January 23 through March 9.

Full interview with Kristin Wilkins, curator of the exhibition at the University of Southern Indiana.
Audio: Jkthom.

The McCutchan Art Center/Pace Galleries at USI bases its exhibit around roughly 100 Polaroids selected from its collection. The Polaroids were all donated by the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program, according to Kristen Wilkins, assistant professor of photography and curator of the exhibit. The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts made two donations to USI Art Collections, in 2007 and a second recently.

Kathryn Waters, director of the gallery, expressed interest in further donations from the foundation in the future.

Since 2007 the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program has seeded university art galleries throughout the United States with over 28,000 Andy Warhol photographs and other artifacts. The program takes a decentralized approach to Warhol’s photography collection and encourages university art galleries to regularly disseminate and educate audiences about Warhol’s artistic vision, especially in the area of photography.

University exhibits

Kristen Wilkins, curator of “Andy Warhol: Photographs and Prints from the University Collection” at the University of Southern Indiana, January 23-March 9, 2014.
Image: Snbehnke.

Wikinews provides additional video, audio and photographs so our readers may learn more.

Wilkins observed that the 2007 starting date of the donation program, which is part of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, coincided with the 20th anniversary of Andy Warhol’s death in 1987. USI was not alone in receiving a donation.

K.C. Maurer, chief financial officer and treasurer at the Andy Warhol Foundation, said 500 institutions received the initial invitation and currently 190 universities have accepted one or more donations. Institutional recipients, said Mauer, are required to exhibit their donated Warhol photographs every ten years as one stipulation.

While USI is holding its exhibit, there are also Warhol Polaroid exhibits at the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York and an Edward Steichen and Andy Warhol exhibit at the Mary & Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. All have received Polaroids from the foundation.

University exhibits can reach out and attract large audiences. For example, the Weatherspoon Art Museum at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro saw attendance levels reach 11,000 visitors when it exhibited its Warhol collection in 2010, according to curator Elaine Gustafon. That exhibit was part of a collaboration combining the collections from Duke University, located in Durham, North Carolina, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which also were recipients of donated items from the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program.

Superstars

Each collection donated by the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program holds Polaroids of well-known celebrities. The successful UNC Greensboro exhibit included Polaroids of author Truman Capote and singer-songwriter Carly Simon.

“I think America’s obsession with celebrity culture is as strong today as it was when Warhol was living”, said Gustafon. “People are still intrigued by how stars live, dress and socialize, since it is so different from most people’s every day lives.”

Wilkins explained Warhol’s obsession with celebrities began when he first collected head shots as a kid and continued as a passion throughout his life. “He’s hanging out with the celebrities, and has kind of become the same sort of celebrity he was interested in documenting earlier in his career”, Wilkins said.

The exhibit at USI includes Polaroids of actor Dennis Hopper; musician Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran; publishers Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone Magazine and Carlo De Benedetti of Italy’s la Repubblica; disco club owner Steve Rubell of Studio 54; photographers Nat Finkelstein, Christopher Makos and Felice Quinto; and athletes Vitas Gerulaitis (tennis) and Jack Nicklaus (golf).

Wikinews observed the USI exhibit identifies and features Polaroids of fashion designer Halston, a former resident of Evansville.

University collections across the United States also include Polaroids of “unknowns” who have not yet had their fifteen minutes of fame. Cynthia Thompson, curator and director of exhibits at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, said, “These images serve as documentation of people in his every day life and art — one which many of us enjoy a glimpse into.”

Warhol’s photographic legacy

Warhol was close to important touchstones of the 1960s, including art, music, consumer culture, fashion, and celebrity worship, which were all buzzwords and images Wikinews observed at USI’s opening exhibit.

He was also an influential figure in the pop art movement. “Pop art was about what popular American culture really thought was important”, Kathryn Waters said. “That’s why he did the Campbell Soup cans or the Marilyn pictures, these iconic products of American culture whether they be in film, video or actually products we consumed. So even back in the sixties, he was very aware of this part of our culture. Which as we all know in 2014, has only increased probably a thousand fold.”

“I think everybody knows Andy Warhol’s name, even non-art people, that’s a name they might know because he was such a personality”, Water said.

Hilary Braysmith, USI associate professor of art history, said, “I think his photography is equally influential as his graphic works, his more famous pictures of Marilyn. In terms of the evolution of photography and experimentation, like painting on them or the celebrity fascination, I think he was really ground-breaking in that regard.”

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The Polaroid format is not what made Warhol famous, however, he is in the company of other well-known photographers who used the camera, such as Ansel Adams, Chuck Close, Walker Evans, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Helmut Newton.

Wilkins said, “[Warhol] liked the way photo booths and the Polaroid’s front flash looked”. She explained how Warhol’s adoption of the Polaroid camera revealed his process. According to Wilkins, Warhol was able to reproduce the Polaroid photograph and create an enlargement of it, which he then could use to commit the image to the silk screen medium by applying paint or manipulating them further. One of the silk screens exhibited at USI this time was the Annie Oakley screen print called “Cowboys and Indians” from 1987.

Wilkins also said Warhol was both an artist and a businessperson. “As a way to commercialize his work, he would make a blue Marilyn and a pink Marilyn and a yellow Marilyn, and then you could pick your favorite color and buy that. It was a very practical salesman approach to his work. He was very prolific but very business minded about that.”

“He wanted to be rich and famous and he made lots of choices to go that way”, Wilkins said.

USI exhibit

Cquote1.svg It’s Warhol. He is a legend. Cquote2.svg

—Kiara Perkins, USI student

Kiara Perkins, a second year USI art major, admitted she was willing to skip class Thursday night to attend the opening exhibit but then circumstances allowed for her to attend the exhibit. Why did she so badly want to attend? “It’s Warhol. He is a legend.”

For Kevin Allton, a USI instructor in English, Warhol was also a legend. He said, “Andy Warhol was the center of the Zeitgeist for the 20th century and everything since. He is a post-modern diety.”

Allton said he had only seen the Silver Clouds installation before in film. The Silver Clouds installation were silver balloons blown up with helium, and those balloons filled one of the smaller rooms in the gallery. “I thought that in real life it was really kind of magical,” Allton said. “I smacked them around.”

Elements of the Zeitgeist were also playfully recreated on USI’s opening night. In her opening remarks for attendees, Waters pointed out those features to attendees, noting the touches of the Warhol Factory, or the studio where he worked, that were present around them. She pointed to the refreshment table with Campbell’s Soup served with “electric” Kool Aid and tables adorned with colorful gumball “pills”. The music in the background was from such bands as The Velvet Underground.

The big hit of the evening, Wikinews observed from the long line, was the Polaroid-room where attendees could wear a Warhol-like wig or don crazy glasses and have their own Polaroid taken. The Polaroids were ready in an instant and immediately displayed at the entry of the exhibit. Exhibit goers then became part of the very exhibit they had wanted to attend. In fact, many people Wikinews observed took out their mobiles as they left for the evening and used their own phone cameras to make one further record of the moment — a photo of a photo. Perhaps they had learned an important lesson from the Warhol exhibit that cultural events like these were ripe for use and reuse. We might even call these exit instant snap shots, the self selfie.


SilverClouds2.jpg

Children enjoy interacting with the “Silver Clouds” at the Andy Warhol exhibit.
Image: Snbehnke.

KatieWaters.jpg

Kathryn Waters opens the Andy Warhol exhibit at USI.
Image: Snbehnke.

Kidinteracting.jpg

At the Andy Warhol exhibit, hosts document all the names of attendees who have a sitting at the Polaroid booth.
Image: Snbehnke.

KristinWilkins.jpg

Curator Kristin Wilkins shares with attendees the story behind his famous Polaroids.
Image: Snbehnke.

PillsFlowers.jpg

A table decoration at the exhibit where the “pills” were represented by bubble gum.
Image: Snbehnke.

Polaroidwarholstyle.jpg

Two women pose to get their picture taken with a Polaroid camera. Their instant pics will be hung on the wall.
Image: Snbehnke.

Kidandsilverclouds.jpg

Even adults enjoyed the “Silver Clouds” installation at the Andy Warhol exhibit at USI.
Image: Snbehnke.

cnter
Many people from the area enjoyed Andy Warhol’s famous works at the exhibit at USI.
Image: Snbehnke.
WarholClouds.jpg

Katie Waters talks with a couple in the Silver Clouds area.
Image: Snbehnke.

WarholEntrance.jpg

Many people showed up to the new Andy Warhol exhibit, which opened at USI.
Image: Snbehnke.

WarholFood.jpg

At the exhibit there was food and beverages inspired to look like the 1960s.
Image: Snbehnke.

WarholPolaroids.jpg

A woman has the giggles while getting her Polaroid taken.
Image: Snbehnke.

WarholPortrait.jpg

A man poses to get his picture taken by a Polaroid camera, with a white wig and a pair of sunglasses.
Image: Snbehnke.

Warhols.jpg

Finished product of the Polaroid camera film of many people wanting to dress up and celebrate Andy Warhol.
Image: Snbehnke.

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October 27, 2013

Slow start to winter 2013/2014 flu season in USA

Slow start to winter 2013/2014 flu season in USA

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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Health
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With the United States flu season having started this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), The Weather Channel and Google‘s FluTrends websites report today low flu levels.

All three sources say there are no, or minimal, reports of the flu in Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia. All three indicate Alabama has moderate flu levels. Google FluTrends indicates that at the same time last year, the flu level nationally was at moderate.

During the early part of the month, there were some concerns about the quality of flu reporting as the CDC and other government supported flu tracking organizations were impacted by the US government shutdown. Some non-profits and private organizations provided their own data during this period to fill the information void.

The CDC advises people to get a flu vaccine as the best means of avoiding getting the flu. Dr. Harry Leider, Chief Medical Officer for Walgreens, also is encouraging people to get the flu vaccine now before the flu becomes more widespread. For the 2013/2014 flu season in the US, there are two types of vaccines available. One provides immunization for two influenza A viruses and an influenza B virus — specifically, an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1) pdm09-like virus; an A(H3N2) virus, similar for antigenic purposes to cell-propagated prototype virus A/Victoria/361/2011; and a virus similar to B/Massachusetts/2/2012. A second type of vaccine provides immunization for two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses.

Flu prevelance by state
State Google FluTrend CDC The Weather Channel
Alabama Moderate Local Localized
Alaska Low Sporadic
Arizona Low Sporadic Sporadic
Arkansas Low No activity
California Low Sporadic Sporadic
Colorado Low No activity
Connecticut Low Sporadic Sporadic
Delaware Low No activity
Florida Moderate Sporadic Sporadic
Georgia Moderate Sporadic Sporadic
Hawaii Low Sporadic
Idaho Low No activity
Illinois Moderate Sporadic
Indiana Low Sporadic Sporadic
Iowa Low Sporadic Sporadic
Kansas Moderate No activity
Kentucky Moderate No activity
Louisiana Moderate Sporadic Sporadic
Maine Low No activity
Maryland Low No activity Sporadic
Massachusetts Low Sporadic Sporadic
Michigan Moderate Sporadic
Minnesota Moderate Sporadic Sporadic
Mississippi Moderate Local Sporadic
Missouri Moderate No activity
Montana Low No activity
Nebraska Low Sporadic
Nevada Moderate Sporadic
New Hampshire Low No activity
New Jersey Low Sporadic Sporadic
New Mexico Moderate Sporadic Sporadic
New York Low Sporadic Sporadic
North Carolina Low No activity
North Dakota Low Sporadic Sporadic
Ohio Low Sporadic Sporadic
Oklahoma Moderate No activity
Oregon Low Sporadic
Pennsylvania Low Sporadic
Rhode Island Low No activity
South Carolina Low Local Localized
South Dakota Low No activity Sporadic
Tennessee Moderate No activity
Texas Moderate Sporadic Localized
Utah Low Sporadic Sporadic
Vermont Low No activity
Virginia Low No activity
Washington Low Sporadic Sporadic
West Virginia Low No activity
Wisconsin Low Sporadic Sporadic
Wyoming Low Sporadic Sporadic
District of Columbia Low Sporadic



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October 21, 2013

Controversy brews surrounding small Texas church

Controversy brews surrounding small Texas church

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Monday, October 21, 2013

Religion
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The Church of Wells, based in the small town of Wells, Texas has been at the center of significant media activity in recent days. Wikinews spoke with a Tyler, Texas minister who had an encounter with Church of Wells members recently.

In the media, reports have surfaced surrounding Catherine Grove, a 26 year-old Arkansas woman who recently joined the Church of Wells. Grove’s parents and other family say they’ve hardly communicated with her since July. Grove’s parents have been in Wells since July, hoping to have a chance to speak with her directly.

A Latin Cross, a comon symbol of Christianity.
Image: Tinette.

Tyler, Texas is a city located about 70 miles north of Wells. The Tyler minister explained to Wikinews, he and several of his church members were distributing food and water to homeless citizens in downtown Tyler when they were accosted by members of the group. He described the individuals as appearing “[…] very robotic, kind of disengaged and had very big eyes.” The Church of Wells’ group’s leader became “very agitated” and yelled at the minister and his parishioners. The minister said he recognized the Church of Wells members from recent news coverage. Elaborating on the encounter, he recalled, “At one time, I happened to call him ‘brother’. He replied, “Don’t call me brother. I don’t think you and I serve the same Christ.” He reported the Church of Wells leader also insulted one of the other church’s volunteers, stating, “Look at you. You look just like the world.”

The minister reported the Church of Wells members even followed his group on foot for about two city blocks, and began yelling and hurling insults at them when they arrived at the city’s square plaza. When asked if he believes the Church of Wells to be a cult, the minister replied, “The way they were yelling and the leader seemingly believed that our church member absolutely had to share his testimony aloud with him, specifically him, that’s why I can say with comfort that this group is a cult. A cult is controlling and exclusive. All the women dressed the same. He resorted to name calling. He called me a blasphemer, he called me a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Often, when someone begins to feel as if they’re losing traction on an argument, they’ll often shift over into name calling.” The minister continued, “As we were about to leave, [the Church of Wells group leader] said, ‘Prophets of God are not to be mocked.’ I said, ‘Brother, there are no more prophets. It ended with Jesus. Yes, there are preachers and ministers, but the prophets have ended.’ I believe the man thinks he is a prophet.”



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October 9, 2013

Wikinews interviews President of the International Brotherhood of Magicians

Wikinews interviews President of the International Brotherhood of Magicians

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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

File photo of magician David Gish displaying magic props for a young child.
Image: Paul Budd.

October is National Magic Month in the United States. Wikinews spoke with William Evans, president of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, about the current state of magic and what its future looks like in the world of entertainment.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png For how long have you been involved in performing/studying magic?

William Evans: Over 50 years. I am 61 now so I really started when I was about 10 years old even though I had seen and worked with some basic tricks a few years earlier. I remember going into Hollywood Magic and wanting that big red box with the dragons on it and I didn’t even know what it did. The magician behind the counter was wise enough not to sell it to me, but instead sold me two books which I still own today — “Scarne on Card Tricks” and “Scarne on Magic Tricks”. That started me out on books and I have amassed quite a few since then. My major influences on performance are Eugene Burger and Michael Skinner.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png October is National Magic Month in the US. Do you think magic is alive as a viable form of entertainment today?

WE: Absolutely. There are more magicians working today than ever before. There will always be an audience for good magicians doing good magic.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Has the internet helped or hurt magic?

WE: Both. I think it has helped draw younger people to magic as a hobby, but I think it has hurt the ability of young magicians to think because so many rely on the internet for everything and they aren’t reading the books. We have to have knowledge of the history of magic and what has been done before. Moreover, seeing someone perform on the internet takes away the use of our senses, originality and imagination that reading and thinking about magic can produce. Anyone can become a monkey; it takes serious study to become a magician.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Do you travel much in your current role?

WE: Yes, I am traveling quite a bit. After I was inducted as International President in Phoenix in July, I have been to the Jeff McBride Experience in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, Magic Live in Las Vegas, The Midwest Magic Jubilee in St. Louis, the TAOM in Dallas, the British Ring Convention in Buxton, England and the Magic Circle in London. I am going to Las Vegas and Los Angeles next month, Italy in November, back to Las Vegas in December, Mexico in January, Magi-Fest in February, the Winter Carnival of Magic in Tennessee in March, Eureka Springs Cavalcade of Magic in March, and the FFFF in April. That’s as of now.



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July 29, 2012

Arkansas man sentenced to death for shooting police officer

Filed under: Arkansas,Crime and law,Disputed,North America,United States — admin @ 5:00 am
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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Jerry Lard, 38, was sentenced to death by a judge on Saturday for shooting a police officer in 2011. The jury in the case had recommended Mr. Lard receive the death sentence, after finding him guilty of capital murder.


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July 9, 2012

Drought conditions hit much of US again in 2012

Drought conditions hit much of US again in 2012

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National Weather Service graphic showing drought outlook for most of the continental United States

Monday, July 9, 2012

Over half of the contiguous United States is experiencing drought conditions, according to a report released Thursday by the National Weather Service. The report, addressing the period through this coming September, predicted many states will see these conditions persist, or worsen.

Further government reports indicate that high temperatures have played a role in the drought. Additionally, food supplies are being negatively impacted. 22 percent of the corn and soybean crop in key states is reported in “poor or very poor condition”; other crops have also been reduced in the wake of the conditions.

Only days ago, over one million residences in the greater Washington D.C. area were without air-conditioning following a rash of storms and high winds. Reports indicate that temperatures reached at least 100 degrees Fahrenheit (about 38C) during that period. Overall, 18 deaths were attributed to those conditions which extended to several states. Two Tennessee brothers, ages 3 and 5 died after playing outside, according to one report. When asked about weather conditions, a Texas woman told Wikinews, “This heat has been dreadful. I can hardly stand to be outside for more than 10 minutes.”

The National Weather Service’s report noted that, in the southeastern US, some weather improvements are expected across certain portions of Georgia and South Carolina. An Arkansas woman told Wikinews, “…it’s horrible. We’re not used to these kinds of temperatures. It’s so miserable outside right now. It doesn’t normally get this hot here…this is unbelievable.” Sources are referring to this drought as the worst since 1988.


Related news

  • “Report indicates Texas state parks still suffering following worst drought on record” — Wikinews, January 27, 2012
  • Drought conditions and high winds lead to wildfires in Texas” — Wikinews, September 7, 2011
  • “Freshwater lakes in Texas show signs of extreme drought” — Wikinews, August 29, 2011
  • “Texas continues to suffer record-breaking drought” — Wikinews, August 14, 2011

Sister links

  • Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Summer 2012 North American heat wave

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June 5, 2012

On the campaign trail, May 2012

On the campaign trail, May 2012 – Wikinews, the free news source

On the campaign trail, May 2012

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The following is the seventh in a monthly series chronicling the U.S. 2012 presidential election. It features original material compiled throughout the previous month after a brief mention of some of the month’s biggest stories.

In this month’s edition on the campaign trail, the leading candidates for the Americans Elect presidential nomination respond to a major announcement from that organization’s board of directors, two presidential candidates in favor of same-sex marriage react to President Barack Obama’s announcement of support for the practice, and Wikinews interviews the newly-selected Libertarian Party vice presidential nominee.

Summary

May began with the expected withdrawal of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who felt the continuation of his campaign to be fruitless. He endorsed former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, whom the press had already designated as the presumptive Republican Party presidential nominee. Shortly thereafter, former candidate Rick Santorum also threw his support to Romney. Another former Republican candidate, former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, took a different path. He won the presidential nomination of the Libertarian Party to continue his campaign into the general election. Congressman Ron Paul remained a candidate in the Republican race, but scaled back his campaign, announcing the suspension of active campaigning while still competing in state conventions to amass delegates.

Heavily circulated publicity photo of prison inmate Keith Russell Judd from March 15, 2008.
Image: Keith Russell Judd.

Romney swept the Republican primaries in West Virginia, North Carolina, and Indiana, but President Obama had some difficulty in the Democratic primaries in the first two states. 41 percent of Democrats in West Virginia favored prison inmate Keith Russell Judd over the president and 21 percent in North Carolina voted uncommitted over Obama. North Carolina voters also passed an amendment defining marriage as an institution between a man and woman despite vice president Joe Biden’s vocal support for same-sex marriage prior to the vote. Biden’s statement and the North Carolina result prompted Obama to make an announcement. During an ABC News interview with Robin Roberts, Obama explained that his views had “evolved” and that he now supports same-sex marriage. Romney countered, responding that “marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman.”

Obama’s primary difficulties continued later in May, as attorney John Wolfe, Jr. of Tennessee won 42 percent against him in the Arkansas primary, and as a similar margin of voters supported uncommitted over the president in Kentucky. Romney easily won the two states’ Republican contests, but later faced potential troubles of his own. The Washington Post published a lengthy article alleging that Romney bullied a student while in high school. Romney said he did not remember the episode and apologized for the “dumb things” he did in school. Subsequently, the alleged victim’s family disputed the story. Next, the Obama campaign attempted to make an issue of Romney’s venture capital activities as CEO of Bain Capital. Cory Booker, the Democratic Mayor of Newark, criticized this attempt, arguing on Meet the Press that advertisements against the firm left him “uncomfortable.” Booker later clarified that he supported and still intended to help re-elect Obama as president. In what Real Clear Politics described as an attempt to counter the attacks on Bain and highlight high unemployment as an issue, Romney predicted that if elected, unemployment would fall to six percent at the end of his first term. The Obama campaign and supporters said the announcement was nothing new since it simply mirrored the Congressional Budget Office‘s projections for 2016, regardless of who wins the election.

In late May, Romney won the endorsements of former President George W. Bush and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Rice’s immediate predecessor, General Colin Powell, who endorsed Obama in 2008, withheld an official endorsement, but like Obama, announced his support for same-sex marriage. In the final primary of the month, both Obama and Romney each handily won their respective party’s contest in Texas. As a result, Romney surpassed the required number of delegates to secure the Republican nomination and Obama faced his last contested primary on the Democratic side. However, the question of whether Obama’s nomination would be unanimous remained unanswered as lawsuits from Judd and Wolfe disputed the party’s decision to not award them delegates for which they qualified in the aforementioned West Virginia and Arkansas primaries.

Americans Elect makes major decision; leading candidates respond

Americans Elect, the non-profit organization that spent an estimated $35 million to attain ballot access in 29 states with hopes of nominating a bipartisan 2012 presidential ticket, decided in May to forego the 2012 presidential race. Via press release, the organization’s board announced that none of its candidates had met the minimum threshold, which required the accumulation of 10,000 pledged supporters for “experienced” candidates, and 50,000 supporters for other candidates, prior to the May 15 deadline. Though this decision drew criticism, the board claimed its actions were to maintain the integrity of the organization’s rules.

Americans Elect logo.
Image: Americans Elect.

As a result, candidates that actively sought the organization’s nomination including former Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer, former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, activist Michealene Risley, and economics professor Laurence Kotlikoff were forced to reassess how to continue their campaigns.

Roemer, who led all candidates with 6,293 supporters, called the decision disappointing and commented that “Americans Elect’s procedure was ripe with difficulty related to access, validation and security.” Though he simultaneously sought the Reform Party’s nomination, Roemer ultimately decided that the party’s ballot access in four states was not enough, and suspended his campaign at the end of May.

Anderson, who finished second in supporters with 3,390, referred to the Americans Elect process as “discriminatory”, and announced his support for a movement within the organization, headed by delegate Andrew Evans, attempting to overturn the board’s decision. Meanwhile, Anderson removed all references to Americans Elect from the front page of his campaign website, and has focused his energies on the Justice Party, which he founded last year. It currently has ballot access in Mississippi and Utah. Anderson is also a candidate for the Peace and Freedom Party, which will appear on the California ballot.

Risley, who came in third with 2,351 supporters, argued that “people feel really used and manipulated” by Americans Elect. In a letter to the board, she wrote that the organization “will be stigmatized as the latest example of third party failure”, “Instead of being the prototype for high tech democracy”. Like Anderson, she supports the actions of Evans, and has even opened a petition for it on change.org. Since Risley is not competing for another party’s presidential nomination, this is now the crux of her campaign.

Kotlikoff, who finished fourth with 2,027 supporters, told Wikinews that he felt the Americans Elect board was more interested in attracting “big names” than focusing on the issues. He cited this as “the most disappointing aspect” of the decision, adding that “big names don’t necessarily equate to big ideas or good ideas for moving the country ahead. And all big names start small.” Like Roemer, Kotlikoff had decided to also seek the Reform Party nomination, and following the decision, choose to end his Reform Party bid and his presidential campaign as a whole. He opted instead to promote his “Purple Plan”, which combines elements of Republican and Democratic solutions to resolve political issues.


Two candidates react to President Obama’s same-sex marriage backing

After President Obama announced his personal support of same-sex marriage while maintaining it should be decided on a state-by-state basis, two candidates already supporting marriage equality reacted in two very different ways.

Republican Fred Karger, the first openly gay person to seek a major political party’s presidential nomination, sent an e-mail to supporters praising Obama for the announcement, saying that “he will be a great advocate as we do battle [against marriage definition propositions] in four states this November.” He added, “It’s nice to have another presidential candidate on board for full equality.”

Gary Johnson in December 2011.
Image: Gary Johnson.

Fred Karger in August 2011.
Image: Gage Skidmore.

Former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party presidential nominee, had an opposite interpretation of Obama’s announcement. He commented, “while I commend [Obama] for supporting the concept of gay marriage equality, I am profoundly disappointed in the President.” “Instead of insisting on equality as a U.S. Constitutional guarantee, the President has thrown this question back to the states.” Johnson speculated that Obama cared more about not alienating voters in the swing states of Ohio, Colorado, North Carolina, and Virginia, than supporting change on a federal level.

When approached with this view, Karger argued, “sure, [I] would rather [Obama] came out for a federal marriage solution…[but]” “just his coming out for marriage equality is the key.” Karger maintained that the issue would ultimately be decided in the courts rather than in Congress.

Karger is currently campaigning as an alternative to Mitt Romney in California ahead of that state’s June 5 GOP primary, while Johnson, whom Karger has described as a friend, is hoping to achieve ballot access in all 50 states to challenge President Obama and the Republican nominee in the general election.

The Libertarian Party’s newly-christened VP nominee discusses his role

After the Libertarian Party nominated former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson for president at May’s Libertarian National Convention, upon Johnson’s request, the party selected Judge Jim Gray of California for Vice President to complete the ticket.

Gray has worked as a judge since 1983 when Governor George Deukmejian appointed him to the Santa Ana Municipal Court in Orange County, California. Six years later he was appointed to the Superior Court of Orange County. His work in court earned him two “Judge of the Year” awards: first in 1992 from the Business Litigation Section of the Orange County Bar Association, and then in 1995 from the Orange County Constitutional Rights Foundation.

Judge Jim Gray.
Image: Jim Gray.

In addition to his work as a jurist, Gray has been involved in Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and has advocated against the federal government’s prosecution of the War on Drugs. Moreover, Gray’s vice presidential campaign is not his first experience in politics. He ran for U.S. Congress as a Republican in 1998, and was the Libertarian Party’s 2004 nominee for U.S. Senate in California.

Johnson described him as “not only a highly-respected jurist, but he is also a proven leader on issues of concern to Americans – from drug policy to civil liberties to ethics. I am proud he is joining me to offer America a real choice in this election, and excited that his forceful and extremely credible voice will be a vital part of our campaign. Judge Gray is a reformer with the track record and credentials to prove it”.

Gray reserved some time to speak with Wikinews about his role as the Libertarian Party vice presidential nominee, what he adds to the Johnson ticket, and what Johnson-Gray can do to better than the 0.4 percent former Congressman Bob Barr and businessman Wayne Allyn Root won as the 2008 representatives of the Libertarian Party.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWhat are your responsibilities as the Libertarian Party vice presidential nominee?

Judge Gray: As the Vice Presidential nominee of the Libertarian Party, I am a team member under the leadership of our Presidential nominee, Governor Gary Johnson, as we campaign to restore Prosperity, Equal Opportunity and Liberty to the United States of America.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngHow do you complement Gary Johnson on the ticket?

Judge Gray: It is amazing. In 2010 I wrote a book entitled A Voter’s Handbook: Effective Solutions to America’s Problems (The Forum Press, 2010), which I never considered using in a political campaign. However, in looking at my documented views of our problems and solutions, they are almost completely consistent with those of Governor Johnson. But my background as a federal prosecutor, Navy JAG attorney, trial court judge and former Peace Corps Volunteer is quite different from Governor Johnson’s. Therefore I bring a balance and perspective to the ticket that no other vice presidential candidate will likely have.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngHow do you plan to achieve more electoral success than the 2008 Barr-Root campaign?

Judge Gray: Candidly, our strategy is to be polling at 15 percent or above at the end of this coming September. This will qualify us to be in the national presidential and vice presidential debates. If that occurs, all of the common wisdom will change. And during the convention … in Nevada Governor Johnson was polling at 7 percent. Now he is polling at 8 percent. I deeply believe that when the American people see and understand what Governor Johnson and I not only stand for, but what he has actually done while a sitting two-term governor for eight years, they will rally in droves to our campaign, because they will see the truth that the Republican and the Democratic candidates are almost parallel in the important issues which have led us into financial ruin and despair, and Governor Johnson stands out in front for positive change.



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May 20, 2012

Wikinews interviews John Wolfe, Democratic Party presidential challenger to Barack Obama

Wikinews interviews John Wolfe, Democratic Party presidential challenger to Barack Obama

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

U.S. Democratic Party presidential candidate John Wolfe, Jr. of Tennessee took some time to answer a few questions from Wikinews reporter William S. Saturn.

John Wolfe.
Image: Marc Nozell.

Wolfe, an attorney based out of Chattanooga, announced his intentions last year to challenge President Barack Obama in the Democratic Party presidential primaries. So far, he has appeared on the primary ballots in New Hampshire, Missouri, and Louisiana. In Louisiana, he had his strongest showing, winning 12 percent overall with over 15 percent in some congressional districts, qualifying him for Democratic National Convention delegates. However, because certain paperwork had not been filed, the party stripped Wolfe of the delegates. Wolfe says he will sue the party to receive them.

Wolfe will compete for additional delegates at the May 22 Arkansas primary and the May 29 Texas primary. He is the only challenger to Obama in Arkansas, where a May 10 Hendrix College poll of Democrats shows him with 38 percent support, just short of the 45 percent for Obama. Such an outing would top the margin of Texas prison inmate Keith Russell Judd, who finished 18 percent behind Obama with 41 percent in the West Virginia Democratic primary; the strongest showing yet against the incumbent president. Despite these prospects, the Democratic Party of Arkansas has already announced that if Wolfe wins any delegates in their primary, again, due to paperwork, the delegates will not be awarded. Wolfe will appear on the Texas ballot alongside Obama, activist Bob Ely, and historian Darcy Richardson, who ended his campaign last month.

Wolfe has previously run for U.S. Congress as the Democratic Party’s nominee. On his campaign website, he cites the influence “of the Pentagon, Wall Street, and corporations” on the Obama administration as a reason for his challenge, believing these negatively affect “loyal Americans, taxpayers and small businesses.” Wolfe calls for the usage of anti-trust laws to break up large banks, higher taxes on Wall Street, the creation of an “alternative federal reserve” to assist community banks, and the implementation of a single-payer health care system.

With Wikinews, Wolfe discusses his campaign, the presidency of Barack Obama, corporations, energy, the federal budget, immigration, and the nuclear situation in Iran among other issues.

Campaign

Wikinews waves Left.pngWilliam S. SaturnWikinews waves Right.pngWhat is the status of your lawsuit concerning Louisiana delegates?

John Wolfe: Yeah. We’re still going to file it. I mean the convention is not until September. Now it’s May. So we got what, four months until the convention starts? And all we’re going to ask for relief is to get awarded the delegates.
So yeah we’re getting it ready. We have other campaigning to do. And I’m a lawyer so I’ll be able to do the suit right. But it does take time and energy. It will be filed. I hope to file it Monday [May 14].

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWhat court will it be filed in?

Wolfe: It’s going to be filed in Baton Rouge federal court. That’s where the jurisdiction is.

Louisiana Democratic primary by parish. President Obama won the parishes in black while Wolfe won the parishes in red.
Image: William S. Saturn.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngIf you qualify for delegates in Arkansas and Texas, in light of what happened in Louisiana, what will you do to avoid having those delegates stripped?

Wolfe: Well, I don’t think we’ll have the same problems in those states. The Louisiana people basically are perpetrating a fraud on the vote. The Democratic Party put me up there. It was a primary. They didn’t have to have a primary. There was a new law saying the Democratic primary was mandatory. It’s a party function. They put me on their ballot. They accepted my money. And then, after that, what they did was have an election, and 17 percent of the people, and this was the Democratic Primary, this wasn’t an open primary, this was just among registered Democratic voters, and I still got 11 or 12 percent. The other guys, there were two other people, together got ten percent: Mr. Ely and Mr. Richardson.
And then despite all that, despite Obama only taking three quarters, the Democratic Party decided to avert, quite flagrantly, the will of the people and assign all the delegates to Mr. Obama, even though their bylaws, the rules themselves say that the results of the primary are binding. Preferential presidential primary results are binding. They forsook their own law in order to make it look like there was unanimous support for Obama. They want a coronation for him instead of just a nomination. They’re treating him again like a king. Who does he think he is? I mean this is ridiculous.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngYou mentioned open primaries, and Texas and Arkansas have open primaries.

Wolfe: Yeah pretty much open primaries. Arkansas definitely and Texas is unless you’re part of the GOP leadership, then you can’t vote in a Democratic primary. But it’s pretty much open and I think that we’ll do fine in both states.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngSo how do you feel about Republican voters that have no interest in their own primary and so vote for you in the Democratic primary to embarrass Obama?

Wolfe: Well there’s been no proof yet that that’s happened. People say it will happen. But I mean, Republicans have their own races. And so if they were to vote in the Democratic primary, they would forego the right to vote for local and not only just federal candidates that are Republican, but also local people, because your local primaries in Arkansas are held the same time as the congressional. So they would have to basically decide to not vote for anyone they know or like and switch over, just for the purpose of voting against Obama. Now whether that’s going to happen or not, I don’t know. We can talk about that after the primary to see if it did happen.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWell that might have happened in West Virginia, where there was more voters that participated in the Democratic primary than the Republican primary. So what is your reaction to the showing of prison inmate Keith Russell Judd in that primary?

Cquote1.svg [The American people] may not be able to articulate it the way I just did but they know in their heart what’s true and what isn’t. And they know for sure that [President Obama’s] not on their side. And they’re right. Cquote2.svg
Wolfe: Well it shows that Obama’s left a void. His lack of leadership has left a void and people are upset. He should be out there with the people. He should be in those coal mines. He should be in those towns, where those factories have left, and he ought to be out there with the homeowners who’ve been foreclosed on by his campaign contributors. People know this man is nothing but a Wall Street creature. They know that his advisers in the White House are all failed executives of failed banks that have been bailed out: people like Emil [Michael], people like [Jacob] Lew, [William] Daley, they’re all from the big six: the big corporations we had to bail out. Yes. What did they get for their failures? Promoted to the White House. People know that. Most of the guys who are raising his campaign money. They’re sick of it. And that’s why people in West Virginia, and lot of the blue collar people don’t like Obama. It’s his own fault because he is not of the people. He is of Wall Street. People are finally starting to see that.
John Wolfe isn’t [of Wall Street]. John Wolfe worked his way up through. I’ve worked in factories. I’ve worked in grocery stores. I almost cut my thumb off doing agricultural work. When I went to college, I didn’t have any transportation. I had to hitchhike up and down I75 to get an education. So I know what it’s like to work in the real world. I know what it’s like to have to strive hard to get ahead. But Obama doesn’t relate to those people. He’s too professorial. He’s too detached. He is of Wall Street. Those are the people he pals around with: Bob Wolf that Swiss banker is his favorite guy. The guy that loves speculation on Wall Street. He gets paid billions and billions of dollars for failed banks to get back up. Him and Obama are like twins. I mean you see Bob Wolf, you see Obama. I mean, this is the sort of thing people sense. They may not be able to articulate it the way I just did but they know in their heart what’s true and what isn’t. And they know for sure that he’s not on their side. And they’re right.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngHow do you feel about the support you received from the conservative publication, The Weekly Standard?

Wolfe: Well, Mr. Kristol can publish whatever he wants to. It sure surprised me. But Mr. Kristol is a very keen observer. I don’t always agree with him on what he writes, but he is one of the most articulate spokesmen in American politics.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngIn the interview you had with The Weekly Standard, you said that you are the only Democratic challenger to Obama that is actively campaigning. What kind of activities do you take part in for the campaign?

Wolfe: Well, what we do is we call people. We make sure we get our message out. We’re on the radio every now and then and we haven’t bought any TV or radio ads yet; they’re a little bit too expensive, but we’re going to try to, here toward the end, to get on the radio to get our message out in a more conventional way. And we have recently bought some inserts, things like that, for the newspaper. And gotten our message out to some of the people in Arkansas. It’s a very expensive thing.
This campaign has been something I’ve wanted to do, but I’ve had to make a lot of personal sacrifices to do it.

Challenging the incumbent

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngI mentioned that interview you had with The Weekly Standard. During that interview, you said that you opposed same-sex marriage even though you backed the repeal of “Don’t ask, don’t tell”. Might this hurt you with Democrats looking for a progressive alternative to Barack Obama?

Wolfe: Yeah my record on so much of the issue, on gay rights, I mean I have a good record on it. In 1979 in Memphis when I was part of the student government, I was the adviser and also the so-called attorney general, I mean, there were issues that came up on the campus where they wanted to ban gay meetings. This was back in ’79. I stood up there in 1979 and told the people they were wrong for doing it. In 2010, before the most conservative audience ever in Cleveland, Tennessee, this is on video tape, I said, no, let’s get rid of don’t ask, don’t tell, it’s not right. If someone wants to serve their country, they should. You only want heterosexuals to spill blood for the country? Don’t you think the sacrifice ought to be equally borne? I came out against don’t ask, don’t tell before anybody else around this section of the country. I don’t think it was right then, and I don’t think it’s right now.

Wolfe speaks at a Congressional candidates forum in 2010.
Image: millermz.

I am for equality. I just have a little bit of a hard time with accepting gay marriage. I got to look into it a little bit more and see what the ramifications of it are. But I think that the idea of hate crimes and longer sentences for hate crimes is a good idea because people do commit those. They don’t just commit it against the individual. They will tend to be recidivist because they don’t just hate an individual, they hate the whole group. And when they do that, of course you have longer sentences because that means their rate of doing it again is going to be higher than somebody that just commits an individual crime against an individual. They’re going against the whole race. The same thing would be true for somebody that wanted to beat up Jewish people, or they wanted to assault Catholics, or whoever. Sure there should be more time. There should be a special classification for hate crimes. I think the idea of no discrimination by the federal government in hiring based on sexual orientation is the right kind of law to make. I think there should be equality.
If you look at what Obama said, it wasn’t even progressive. All he said was this is my personal statement. He didn’t say that North Carolina was wrong [for passing a ban on same-sex marriage]. You have to read the tealeaves when this guy talks. All the guy said was I think that gay marriage is fine with me personally. He didn’t say that we’re going to make a federal law that makes it incumbent upon the states not to outlaw it. He didn’t do that. He’s fine with those kind of laws. He’s not going to go out there and do any more than say what he said. So he didn’t give us an agenda like: are you going to go ahead and have it where you’re going to have a situation, are you going to allow homosexual or same-sex couples to go ahead and have tax deductions? Are you going to allow them to have the same kind of income tax return as a traditional family? He didn’t go through all that. He just made a general statement. Now he’s off the floor as some kind of Caesar; someone vindicating the rights of gay people. His statement was very vague. It’s just very Obama-like. He didn’t really commit to anything. He just said that was his personal opinion.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWell, personally, do you believe it is a federal or state issue?

Wolfe: I think it’s a state issue. But I think it’s something that I need to study more because I’m a person really that tries to get beyond identity politics. I’m interested mostly in three things. My interests are: number one, the economy. You get people back to work, then we can quite fighting each other on these social issues. Some of these social issues are accented because there’s a lot of unrest with the economy. We need to worry about three things I think: getting the economy back right, getting out of these commitments like Afghanistan and dictators abroad, we need to get out of that, then we need to protect our civil liberties at home. Those are the three main things that John Wolfe has on his agenda. So I think those are the most important.
The economy is the most important. And I think the economy can’t be reformed until you reform the bank. You noticed yesterday [May 11], JP Morgan lost two billion dollars because they’re pouring billions of dollars into all this speculation, and some of the credit default swaps and derivatives. Well guess what? We’re underwriting that. That’s casino capitalism. I’ve been talking about this all last year and all this year about how bad that’s getting. Now, the chickens are coming home to roost. That’s just JP Morgan. We don’t know what the next bank is going to report. We got to underwrite all that. See, Obama’s never made an effort really to separate that out because he’s so ensconced in Wall Street money, and so persuaded by Wall Street advisers right there in the oval office. He won’t even go back to traditional banking to make these people separate casino capitalism from traditional banking. He hasn’t done it. As long as he doesn’t, we’re going to have to underwrite these things. We’re going to have to keep bailing them out, bailing them out, bailing them out. We shouldn’t have to do that. Obama ought to do something about that. People want that done, but he can’t do. He’s handcuffed because he’s afraid of Wall Street.
I would go in there and do just the opposite. I would make sure that was separated. People set their own index. Make it open. Right now these things are traded secretly. Put it out there just like any other stock exchange, and make sure that when people bet money that they got the resources to cover it one way or the other. I mean, you don’t let people go to Las Vegas with two dollars and make a ten dollar bet. We shouldn’t let these people do it either, especially when where we’re guaranteeing it. But Obama is and the man is weakening for Wall Street.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngDo you believe Obama has done any good things as president?

Cquote1.svg If [Obama] would just educate the people like I could, he would get people on his side and he would win an election based on a populist economic view Cquote2.svg
Wolfe: Well, I think it was good doing away with don’t ask, don’t tell. I think the stimulus was a good start but it wasn’t very effective because it wasn’t enough. He’s been too cautious about a lot of things. He tried to increase the taxes on the very well-to-do. The top one fifth own 94 percent of financial wealth in this country. They were saved by the bailouts. They made money when the stock market went down to six thousand so they could invest low… People like that who were saved and benefited by these trillion dollar bailouts should be the ones paying higher tax rates now, but Obama hasn’t emphasized that point. He has not instructed people. He isn’t going out there and telling people the stuff I’m telling you. If he would just educate the people like I could, he would get people on his side and he would win an election based on a populist economic view. People get back to work and people make money and people are empowered then businesses make more money too.
It’s not like we want to nationalize resources and take away private capital. We just want to work with feet. The end of the economy is the betterment of the people and not just the accumulation of capital and casino capitalism. It’s not that. You know it’s the betterment of people. Capitalism is a means to an end. It’s not the ends itself. Human needs are not cyclical. Economic cycles of the economy can be cyclical, but that’s why you have to have fair taxes, an interventionist government to make sure that society works for the people and Obama’s not doing that. The man has failed.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWill you support him during the November election or somebody else?

Wolfe: Well, if he says he’ll support me if I win, then I might reciprocate. I think we’ll just have to look at it and see how far and wide he appeals. But I certainly would expect to. I certainly would like to. Sure.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngBut if it was a choice between him and [Mitt] Romney, who would you favor?

Wolfe: Well if it came down to those two, I would just have to see where they are. I expect to support the president, but to me, there’s not a lot of difference between him and Romney on the economy and there’s not that much difference between him and Romney on foreign affairs. There’s not that much difference between him and Romney on civil liberties. The differences are a lot narrower than people think and they mostly arise in areas again of identity politics. It seems to me like Romney is wanting to repeal abortion rights. He even wants to cut back on birth control. It seems to me that he wants us to get involved in even more wars. He wants to actually to increase military spending by 20 percent. His foreign policy advisers are interventionists. They’re neo-cons. They’re dangerous people, who don’t even see Iraq as a mistake, who would like to get us involved even more deeply in areas like Syria and North Korea, places like that. Romney alarms me a lot more than Obama does in that area. I think Romney would probably give too many tax cuts to the well-to-do, the ones that are already very wealthy. I think that Obama would at least put an end to that. I don’t think he pushed quite that hard for a tax increase, but I don’t think he’d even fight for tax reductions either.

Corporate taxes as a proportion of GDP has decreased since the 1950s.
Image: Guest2625.

Corporations and things are very powerful. The one message Obama has failed to get out is that the corporate tax rate in this country may be 35 percent on paper, see the effective tax rate that these corporations pay, if you just look at the average of what the Fortune 500 pay it’s only 16 percent. So that’s the way it really works because you got lobbyists in Washington that write the accounting rules, that write the tax rules and everything, so the 35 percent thing is just a mirage. All it’s done is whip up … to make people think we’re non-competitive because we have a higher rater on paper than people like Japan or Germany or maybe some like Mexico or some third world country. Right now if you look at the corporate tax collective, they make up the lowest percentage of GDP than ever. I think we’ve paid $200 billion on a $15 trillion economy. So you’re talking about maybe one and a half percent. Under [President Dwight] Eisenhower, the federal tax was collected and corporations made up about 25 percent of the budget receipts. Now they make up maybe nine percent, and corporations now are 15 times as big and powerful as they were under Eisenhower. So the corporation is … they want to make people look like they’re victims. I mean it’s just pathetic.
And the misinformation gets out there. It gets out there because of Fox News, but it also gets out there because Obama doesn’t educate the people and if people knew that, he could change public opinion if he would just educate them to that. But he doesn’t do it because he’s too timid. His whole life has been one where he reaches consensus until he gets along. He goes along and gets along. He’s never had to take a hard stance or anything like that. And that may be why he got elected. It could be that the American people would have rejected him if he’d been an assertive African American man who took hard stances on hard issues, and was very dogmatic. And I think that’s unfortunate because some of a lot America might react that way.

Policy

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngLet’s get into policy a little more. How can high energy costs be reduced?

Wolfe: Well, the only way to do that is you’re going to have to try to find alternate sources of energy. You’ve got to make cars that are more fuel efficient. You have to have homes that heat better, that are better insulated. You have to get people to do the things that [President] Jimmy Carter told us to do 35 years ago. If people started doing that more, it would be a lot better. Now we’ve already cut down on some of our energy consumption, but we definitely need to do it more. I think that it’s a shame that gasoline costs as much as it does and it’s a shame that the oil companies have as much power as they do. It’s a shame that Exxon made like 10 billion dollars in one quarter. That’s just really pathetic, and they have all the power, all the tax breaks, all the lobbyists, all the political pull. They’re growing bigger and bigger at our expense.

President Jimmy Carter, pictured in 1980, remarked during a 1977 speech on energy policy that “we must prepare quickly for…strict conservation and to the use of coal and permanent renewable energy sources, like solar power.” He listed ten principles for a “national energy plan”.
Image: Marion S. Trikosko.

One way to do it too would be to cut down. I think there needs to be some sort of, on the energy futures and things like that, they need to really be careful that people aren’t allowed to run up the price of oil through speculation like they did during 2008. There just wasn’t that much going on in the economy at that time. We were sort of having the onset of a recession and the energy demand worldwide was falling in 2008, yet the price of a barrel of oil went in March of 2008 to $48.00 to about $147.00 at the end of July. So that sort of thing needs to be investigated and any sort of speculative activities that gives rise to that needs to be regulated. I mean, there was no reason for it to triple like that.
And I think also what we need to do is is that we need to ask the oil companies why it is that they’re always a little bit short. It could be that they don’t refine things like they should. They always make it to where the demand is a little bit more than supply just to keep that extra pressure on oil. That needs to be investigated too. That needs to be more tightly regulated because energy is like money. The banks are the same way, energy’s no different. One’s the veins of the economy and one’s the arteries of the economy. And both those things need more federal oversight. They make plenty of profit, no one’s talking about taking them over. But they need to be regulated. And these artificial shortages and things shouldn’t be allowed to happen. You can’t do that. What they got is basically a monopoly. All this would be doing is just like regulating phone companies. There can only be a few people who do it. There’s not going to be that much competition. We know that. So they actually, when a sector of the economy basically is in oligopolistic or monopolistic hands, that the government’s got a right to step in and regulate on behalf of the people, because the more money that goes into energy unnecessarily, just like interest at the bank and things like that, then that hurts other parts of the economy. That means people have less money to spend at Wal-Mart. They have less money to buy furniture. They have less money to buy other goods.
Same with healthcare, that’s why you have to regulate that. It’s somewhat of a monopoly as well considering that the health care industry, the insurance companies don’t have to compete. By law, they’ve been exempt from competition for about 50 or 60 years, which really hasn’t worked out too well. I mean what we have to pay equals six or eight percent of GDP, which is twice what they have to pay in Germany in relation to their GDP. You know Germany out-exports the United States, a country of 70 million, because they don’t have to factor all these health care costs for their products. Health care should be something that is individual and not related to the work. It should be paid for through the taxes. People should be afforded so much health care costs, so many health care costs, like take for instance in Germany, exports go up, prices on exports get more competitive, trade deficit narrows and people have more work because you have more exports.
The United States is hurt. We’re the only one of our competitors that doesn’t have some form of a single payer that controls costs and gives people a choice of doctors. As a result, that has to be built in to the cost of the product and that makes us less competitive, makes the trade balance larger. Germany, again, a nation of 70 million, actual gross dollars, not per capita, gross dollars or Euros, out-exports the United States of America, which has four and a half times the people of Germany, and that’s pathetic.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngOn your campaign website, you propose a reinstatement of the Glass–Steagall Act and creation of an alternative Federal Reserve. These require cooperation with Congress. How can a president work with a hostile congress to accomplish these goals?

Wolfe: Well, we still have money left. The president has a lot of authority. He has an army and things like that. He has the federal reserve and things like he’s been giving to European banks, distributed to other countries. We were told. We didn’t find out about until I guess six or seven months ago just how broad the money was and the way the Federal Reserve chose to prioritize and things like that. So, why not give some of that to the community? If you’re gonna give Bank of America that uses this money to speculate an interest rate of one third of one percent, then why aren’t these community banks down here working with people to do real things, why aren’t they getting money instead? They should be.
Cquote1.svg I could sit here with a chart, put all this information up in probably 30 or 40 minutes in a national press conference and I guarantee you 70 percent of the people would approve of what I said, and we’d have a whole new discourse in this country Cquote2.svg
And that’s why I’m talking about there needs to be an alternative, when I say alternative federal reserve, a better way of putting would be the federal reserve needs to reform. That’s the alternative that I would push for. Because we have a lot of people here that don’t work. These small towns have really been hurt by NAFTA. A lot of factories have closed. A lot of people don’t have anything to do. A lot of people have turned to drugs. I mean you got a lot of crystal meth problems in the school. I’m for enforcing the law and everything and the individual responsibility, however, we didn’t have those sorts of problems at the scale we have now, when we had people in factories where people could work, and we had employment opportunities for those with just a high school education. Now we don’t have so much of that anymore. The economy basically has changed. It’s now financial. Forty percent of the profits in this country now are made by the financial sector. It used to be different. Factories used to make more. Service industries used to make more of the national profits. But now it’s the finance. The finance doesn’t require so many people to do it. That’s why the finance is basically based on computer trade, automated means, so human beings are superfluous. Especially because its machines in factories and things that are so efficient. So a lot of things are run by robots.
So we need to have work for people and to do that we have to keep capital in the community and we can’t do that if we’re going to continue to underwrite the speculation. If we’re going to use what capital we have to underwrite the speculation right at big banks. I’m talking about JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs. I’m talking about Bank of America, Citibank, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley. Everyone of those require billions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts, maybe even more. They got some bailouts from Federal Reserve money … and what do they do, they hurt the economy. To cover their own losses and stupidity, they take that money at one third of one percent, and turn around and sponsor credit cards, usually with 16 to 24 percent interest rates. I mean, that’s backed up by the government, we’re actually paying the banks to give us. I mean it’s crazy and I don’t understand why we’re doing that. And we need a president, again this is not Rocket Science, you can spell this out with a chart. I mean, I could sit here with a chart, put all this information up in probably 30 or 40 minutes in a national press conference and I guarantee you 70 percent of the people would approve of what I said, and we’d have a whole new discourse in this country. We’d have a whole new atmosphere. And that’s what I’d do if elected. I’d make people see what’s going on, open their eyes a little bit. The president doesn’t lead people. Without presidential leadership, the people will flounder.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngAt this point, do you believe that the federal budget can be balanced?

Wolfe: No I don’t think it can right now. I think that if you cut spending marginally right now, all you’d do is send the economy into a recession. You eventually got to work toward a balance, but that has to be based on economic growth and not just taking away people’s entitlements. People have paid for their Social Security. People have paid for their Medicare. That’s not welfare. It’s not even an entitlement. What it is is a repayment. People who’ve paid into Social Security, their money goes and they buy bonds, just like foreign creditors buying treasury bonds. They get paid back on principle and interest over time the government guarantees it. It’s no different for Social Security recipients. So they’re just like any other debtor or any other creditor. They’re paid money that they’re dued. We bought our Social Security, it’s not welfare, it’s not even an entitlement, it’s a repayment.

Wolfe sifts through his papers during the December 2011 Lesser-known candidates forum.
Image: Marc Nozell.

So people that try to classify that as some sort of welfare that’s exploding the budget is just disingenuous, especially when you figure the fact that Social Security surplus is just on book. It’s on budget, so therefore, the surplus works to actually reduce the deficit and therefore brings borrowing costs for the government down. So, Social Security has had a very good impact all the way around, and it’s something that’s actually worked to keep people out of poverty. Now, I mean ten percent of the people are in poverty, if we didn’t have social security, 40 percent of the older people would be in poverty. But the Republicans want to undo what works well. Not just the Republicans necessarily, but Blue Dog Democrats and the business class, the elite want to undo what works well for the people, which is Social Security, and they want to keep a failed healthcare system that’s uncompetitive in the world economy. I mean it’s amazing the upside perspective these people have.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWhat are your views on immigration?

Wolfe: Well I think we need a guest worker program and let’s do it. I mean right now we got crops ripening in the field and in Alabama and Georgia, people not there to harvest. Let the Mexicans come in, or the people from down below, the southern, Latin American folks who want to come to the United States. Let them come in and work under a guest worker program just like [former] President [George W.] Bush, [Senator John] McCain, and Obama always wanted to do. Then when the harvest is over they can go back home with their money and help their families. That’s the way it should work.
We do need agricultural workers, and I think we need workers in the domestic area, and there’s other places where the illegal immigrants are needed as well in restaurant work, hotel work, and some type of domestic work, because they’ve done a lot of the work that Americans wouldn’t do. But we do have to keep tabs on it and the guest worker program is the best way to do it. And I think if you are worried about the factories, and the construction jobs that may be going to illegals, then the easiest way to remedy that and the parties won’t do it because they’re both too deep in the Chamber of Commerce money, but all you have to do is to give the businesses that play by the rules the right to sue the ones that don’t under the series of unfair uncompetitive practices under the FTC rules. If you would just give the affected businesses, standing to sue, which I don’t think they have right now, then the whole thing would end. But they won’t do that. It would be the surest way to solve the problem.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngI have one final question. It’s on foreign policy. How can the president deal with the nuclear situation in Iran?

Wolfe: Well, the best thing to do is not to panic. We have a lot of nuclear superiority. Iran is at a stage right now where I think they’ve only enriched up to the level of 20. There’s no proof that they have a nuclear weapon. There’s no proof even according to our generals that they have a nuclear weapons program right now or the intent to build one. You just listen to what people say, the generals and stuff, and even the Israeli generals, the ones that have retired from the Israeli intelligence, some of their retired military persons don’t think a strike would be good. I don’t think it would be either. I mean you’d just radicalize a country of 70 million people. We should have diplomatic relations with Iran. We need to restore those. We need to have an ambassador in Tehran. They need to have an ambassador here.
We need to open a dialogue with Iran. We did that with Russia. We did it with China. When Russia was a nuclear power, the Soviet Union, we had a hotline between [U.S. President John] Kennedy and [Soviet Premier Nikita] Khrushchev and then between every American president and Soviet premier after that. No reason we shouldn’t do it here with Iran. They have 79 million people. We need to have an ambassador in Tehran. They need to have their ambassador in Washington. We need to keep the lines of communication open. Just talking doesn’t calibrate anyone’s philosophy but it does us give an opportunity to see what’s going on. It opens things up a little bit and maybe we can learn more by having a channel than just turning the whole CV on them.
Cquote1.svg A lot of people are dying in Iran, and the more they know about America, the better it’s gonna be for us too. Cquote2.svg
There’s a lot of things about Iran I don’t like. Some of the rantings and things about the Holocaust, that it didn’t happen and that sort of thing, if that’s actually what he said, we don’t know if the translations are always right. But anybody that would have a conference to deny that, you know, that’s not good. I don’t like that. But we have to deal with them as they are and not necessarily what they might be with some of these ridiculous historical interpretations they might make. Despite all that, they’re still a power that has to be reckoned with. They represent a lot of people. Iran has 79 million people. No reason we can’t talk to them.
A lot of people are dying in Iran, and the more they know about America, the better it’s gonna be for us too. Now I don’t think that they’re much of a threat at this time. I mean Israel’s got a lot more power. We have sea power all around Iran. We have one submarine that can annihilate the whole country probably in about 20 minutes. You know, submarines are outposts. Israel’s got 300 nuclear weapons, maybe more. Some of Israel’s weapons are neutron bombs. Mordechai Vanunu, the fellow who spent some time in Israeli prison, a Christian who spent time in Israeli prison on account of the fact he told the world the truth about Israel’s nuclear weapons program.
What we need basically is a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. We can’t expect the Arab countries to denuclearize if Israel doesn’t. Israel has our protection now. Israel shouldn’t unconditionally denuclearize, but if we give, we don’t have a defense treaty with Israel, we need a formal defense treaty, then we should expect them to denuclearize. We never have signed that and we should.



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December 31, 2010

New Year’s Eve tornado slams northwest Arkansas, killing three

New Year’s Eve tornado slams northwest Arkansas, killing three

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Friday, December 31, 2010

Disasters and accidents

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Washington County, Arkansas, where the tornado touched down

Three are dead after a tornado hit Cincinnati, a small town in Arkansas, about three miles from Oklahoma’s border. Around 6:00 local time, on Friday, the system, fed by warm winter air, caused several injuries, damaging the power grid.

Josh Howerton, the county’s sheriff’s dispatcher, stated that the storm touched down near the town’s center. “Lots of injuries” were reported. A tornado warning for Cincinnati and nearby towns was issued by the Tulsa weather center nine minutes before the storm struck.

“Any time you have a significant change in air mass there is going to be unsettled weather marking the two different air masses,” said Joe Sellers, a meteorologist from the National Weather Service in Oklahoma.

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June 14, 2010

Flash floods kill at least nineteen campers in Arkansas

Flash floods kill at least nineteen campers in Arkansas

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Map of Ouachita River river system. The rescue effort centres around the Little Missouri (highlighted) and Caddo rivers.

Search and rescue workers in Arkansas continue to search the Little Missouri and Caddo Rivers for survivors of Friday’s flash flood. At least nineteen people were killed when the flood swept through the Albert Pike Recreation Area campground in the Ouachita National Forest in the southwestern portion of the state.

Initially, Arkansas governor Mike Beebe said twenty people were killed when the flash flood reached its peak at about 5:30 a.m. local time on Friday morning, but as of Monday the death toll stands at nineteen. Amongst the dead are at least six children under seven who died when what has been described as a “wall of water” swept away campers while they slept.

With no record of who and how many people were at the camp site, rescue workers initially thought up to 40 people were missing, estimating numbers from vehicles and camping equipment remaining. Temporary cell phone towers have been erected in the area, in the hope that survivors would be able to call for help.

Speaking to CNN on Saturday, Bill Sadler, an Arkansas State Police spokesman, said: “We believe there are still individuals trapped in the area.” He added that “The primary mission of the Arkansas state police working with the local authorities right now is to get the living out of that area and locate the dead.” Most of those who had thought to be missing have now been accounted for.

Survivors describe having to cling to trees to avoid being swept away. Others escaped by climbing into higher ground. Rescuers hope that those missing can still be found alive on these higher grounds. The flood swept away everything from automobiles to RVs and, though it pales in comparison to floods like to much bigger flash floods like the Big Thompson Canyon flood in Colorado of 1976 that killed 144, many people at the site of the disaster said they “had never heard of anything like this.”

Cquote1.svg This was such a huge, huge fast-moving event. Cquote2.svg

—John Nichols, U.S Forest Service geologist

Surrounded by mountains, the camp site “filled up like a bowl”, according to Chad Stover, a spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management. The area where the flooding happened is known as a “flash flood alley”. This is due to the hilly topography, which creates a bowl like effect that drains rainfall into smaller streams. That means if there’s a lot of rainfall, it will all go into the streams that can flood very easily.

The remains of the camp ground following the floods.
Image: NOAA.

Before the actual torrent of water came, the waters of the Little Missouri river increased at a very rapid rate. At 2:00 a.m Friday, the waters of the Little Missouri river were just 3.8 feet, according to US Geological Survey river gauge logs. However, it surged to 10 feet over the next hour and peaked at 23.4 feet, which is almost 20 feet above the river’s norm. It also exceeded the river’s previous record by 10 feet. After the peak, the river dropped back to 8 feet by noon.

Raymond Slade, a Texas-based U.S Geological Survey hydrologist and an expert on floods, said that the amount of rainfall could have exceeded seven inches in an hour, a phenomenon so rare that scientists call that a “100-year rainfall”. Slade says that “This was much greater than a 100-year rainfall. That flood that occurred was much bigger than a 100-year flood, where those people were camped.”



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