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''Helen, where are we going to keep a horse statue that big?'' -King Priam
Herman Cain likes Bush-style 'backrub diplomacy'
Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain is turning aside questions today about sexual harassment charges made against him when he was head of the National Restaurant Association. Instead, Cain is describing the incidents as examples of how his leadership style qualifies him to run America's foreign policy like a multinational business.
Interviewed on CBS News' "Face The Nation," Cain dismissed host Bob Schieffer's repeated questioning about the 1990s charges. "What you have to realize is that American exceptionalism includes having a president who is exceptional in diplomacy -- especially with the ladies," said Cain, the former CEO of Godfather's Pizza.
"George W. Bush had it right," Cain said. "Look at how he dealt with Angela Merkel. A little conversation. A little backrub. And what do you know -- Germany continues to be a stable ally of the USA."
Noting that more and more countries are electing women heads of state, Cain said 'backrub diplomacy' is going to be of growing importance. "Our next president will need experience dealing with women. Finland, India, Liberia, Argentina, Lithuania and Brazil have women leaders."
Cain continued, "You don't want Barack Obama to go Down Under with that fiery redhead Julia Gillard. Barack Obama doesn't know women, he's all talk and no action. Going to work on tight shoulders is the best way to ease diplomatic tensions."
"So when people come to me and say, 'how would you pursue American interests abroad, I'll answer them, 'well how would YOU pursue American interests in broads, Poindexter?'"
"I have a plan. My record is clear. When I'm across a negotiating table from a lady head of state, that table will be a desk, and I'll be chasing her around it," Cain said.
Lamar Alexander proposes different student loan reform
Tax cut for "the education creators"
Saying President Obama's plan to reform student loans doesn't address the cause of skyrocketing tuition, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) proposed his own alternative plan for helping borrowers.
The president yesterday announced a plan to accelerate a reduction in the maximum required payment on student loans, as well as consolidate federal student loans at lower rates.
"Obamaloan doesn't do anything for the real education creators, the banks that make the loans," Alexander said.
"My alternative plan cuts taxes on the education creators," Alexander explained, "like Bank of America, Citi and Chase, so they have more money to loan to students."
The tax cut would be paid for by cutting universities' health care and pension costs. "Let faculty and staff get those services through the free market," Alexander said, adding that he will soon introduce legislation to cut taxes on insurance and pension creators.
In a related story, the University of Phoenix announced it is inviting alumni to invest in its new hedge fund.
NPR drops Sustaining Donor for participating in Occupy protest
Requests return of totebag
National Public Radio fixture Meg Hertz is out today, a day after NPR learned the longtime Sustaining Donor is an organizer of the Occupy Portland protest, a violation of the public broadcaster's policy on listener ambivalence.
Hertz, a member of Oregon Public Broadcasting station KOPB, must return a number of donor premiums including a Car Talk totebag -- a thank-you for a $75 gift she made in 1993.
"NPR was disappointed to learn Meg has sacrificed her objectivity by taking sides in this still-breaking news story," said NPR Listener Alienation Officer Nickerson A. Twist.
"While she is perfectly within her rights to exercise her freedom of speech as an individual, that lack of diffident elitism makes it impossible for Meg to continue here at NPR. We wish her luck with her future listening habits," Twist said.
Reached at her home in the Goose Hollow section of Portland, Hertz described her mood as "devastated."
"I'm devastated. The first I knew something was wrong was this morning, when I received a hangup call on my voicemail from Carl Kassel," said Hertz.
Asked whether she might switch to getting her news from commercial radio and television, Hertz said the only TV she watches is PBS. "Eventually I might tune my radio to progressive talk station KPOJ," she added.
"But it'll be a while until I can turn on the radio, the wound is still too fresh. For the time being I'll stick with downloading podcasts from alternative media," Hertz said.
Galleon Liberation Group proposes prisoner exchange
A financial terror group has issued its demands for the release of the 14 Occupy Wall Street activists taken prisoner Friday in New York City.
They were abducted from Liberty Plaza by NYPD, a militant wing of the NY Stock Exchange, which said it was acting on a commission basis on behalf of the outlawed Galleon Liberation Group (GLG).
The GLG today offered to swap the hostages for imprisoned GLG leader Raj 'Commandante Hedge Clipper' Rajaratnam and a finders fee.
Rajaratnam is the convicted inside trader who was sentenced Thursday in federal court to 2 1/2 years in golf prison.
The demands were made on an audio CD anonymously delivered to the NY Post, with a note containing an authentication code-word.
"If you ever want to see the 99 Percenters again, the government will immediately release our heroic comrade Hedge Clipper," said an unidentified voice in the recording, the sound of ice cubes and a baby grand piano tinkling in the background.
The recording closed with a stirring rendition of the GLG anthem, "GLG are we / Born to be free / Just like the fish in the sea."
It is not known whether federal authorities would agree to exchange Rajaratnam, who is currently in solitary confinement practicing for November's Golf Prison Invitational.
However, securities experts say Rajaratnam has little value to investigators and should be released. "Any information he has about conspiracies or secret accounts, his sons will have changed them by now if they know what's good for them," said convicted Ponzi scheme operator Bernard Madoff.
Santorum proposes new Department Of Uteri
Already known for his anti-abortion credentials, Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum today announced a plan to institutionalize his respect for life under a new executive branch agency, the Department Of Uteri.
"Human life is not only sacred, it is also one of our leading renewable resources and needs to be stewarded," said Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator.
Modeled on the Interior Department, the Department Of Uteri would treat female reproductive organs as federal lands. Uteri managers would count and track ova populations, study habitat quality, control invasive nonnative genes, and conduct conservation programs.
A priority would be creation of an Endangered Heterosexuality List, which would guide federal reintroduction of sperm where it is not currently found and, if necessary, operate captive breeding programs.
Santorum stressed his plan would not require new taxes. "This Department of Uteri will be funded like our national parks, by visitor fees," he said.
Apologetic Bank of America unveils no-fee account
To be used for paying fees
(Westmost, NC) Scrambling to address criticism of its new bank account and debit card fees, North Carolina-based Bank of America today announced a new no-fee account for paying fees.
Bank of America has been beset by anger from account holders since it imposed higher monthly charges on checking and savings accounts, and a $5 monthly fee on debit card usage. Hundreds of thousands of dissatisfied customers have signed petitions opposing the new fees.
Bank of America responded this morning that it has heard its customers and wants to make amends.
"We've heard our customers and want to make amends by offering them a new fee-free account for paying fees," said John D. MacAfee, Bank of America Senior Vice President for Community Relations.
"Paying bank fees is a burden -- we realize that now. In retrospect it was a mistake to ask for the fees to be paid without providing a new, convenient way to pay them," said MacAfee.
"Every deposit and withdrawal at Bank of America will now automatically calculate the difference between the amount of the transaction and the nearest higher dollar amount, and put that amount into a linked no-fee fee account," he explained.
"Bank of America will collect fees from the no-fee fee account every month, and customers won't be inconvenienced at all. Our customers will find the process so easy, hopefully they will forget they are paying fees. Let me emphasize -- there will be no fee on paying fees," MacAfee said.
MacAfee went on to add that customers will be able to manage no-fee fee accounts over the internet. "They can use Bank of America's online banking system to manually pay any Bank of America fee from the no-fee fee account. Eventually, you'll be able to pay non-Bank of America fees as well, such as Qwikster memberships. Although there will be a fee for that service," he said.
Most Bank of America customers are celebrating the speed at which their protest petitions got results. "It makes the $10 fee Bank of America charged me to accept the 2,000 petition signatures I collected all worthwhile," said Greg Lamb, a Premier Banking client from Westmost.
And Roy Smith of Seattle said he's continuing with Bank of America for now. "I'm saving up so I can afford to pay the $500 account-closure fee," Smith said.
Piper Palin planning national school bus tour
Fuels speculation about 2036 White House bid
Piper Palin announced plans today for a national school bus tour, touching off speculation that the daughter of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin could be planning a presidential campaign of her own.
"This tour will be my chance to listen to current and future voters," Palin, 10, told reporters in Wasilla, Alaska. "Why am I doing this? None of your beeswax," she added.
"I wanted to listen to people on last summer's bus tour with my mom, but I couldn't hear what they were saying because all the doody-head reporters were shouting gotcha questions like, did I have fun at the Statue of Liberty," she said.
The almost-Third Second Daughter became known for disdaining the media at the 2008 Republican National Convention.
Upset that reporters expected her mother to answer questions, Piper smeared greasy fingerprints on TV camera lenses and gave Katie Couric the finger.
"Piper could be setting herself up to run for president in 2036, making her the Palin family's best hope to build a legacy of almost-leadership," said CNN host Erin Burnett, former national political affairs editor for Highlights For Children magazine.
"Sarah and Todd have been fearing the family's impact on national politics would end after Sarah doesn't run in 2012, 2016 and 2020," said Burnett. "Track is not interested in politics, while Bristol and Willow are building careers as anti-gay activists."
"All Piper has to do is beat around the bush for 24 years. But she's a Palin, so it comes naturally."
Bachmann wins Bachmann Straw Poll, 29-0
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is back on top in the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, pulling off a runaway victory in the Bachmann Straw Poll.
The grassroots political event was held Sunday night at the Stillwater, Minnesota home of Marcus and Michele Bachmann. Participation is open to current residents and biological, adopted or foster children who had ever been a member of the immediate Bachmann family.
Bachmann, a favorite of the Tea Party, received the votes of 29 out of 30 participants after the final secret ballot. Tied for second place with zero votes were Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Jon Huntsman and Gary Johnson.
Marcus Bachmann said he voted for Michele Bachmann because of her stand on domestic issues. "She can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never lets me forget I'm the man," said Bachmann, a Stillwater lifestyles reprogrammer.
Although eligible to vote in the straw poll, the candidate herself abstained. "Marcus and I are all about the abstinence," she said.
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