Around the Obamashpere | 5-20-2010

Tea Party Favorite Rand Paul Under Fire for Criticizing Civil Rights Act
Republican Senate nominee Rand Paul scrambled to explain his criticism of the landmark U.S. Civil Rights Act, which outlawed racial discrimination, saying he agrees with its goals but questions the federal government imposing its will on businesses.
The political novice and Kentucky candidate issued a statement Thursday amid the fallout from a series of interviews in which Paul said he would have opposed forcing businesses to integrate under the law.
Democrats seized on the comments to argue that Paul holds extremist views and shouldn't be the choice of voters for the U.S. Senate.

This is slightly off-topic, but it's too cool to ignore.
Scientists have created artificial life in a laboratory, leading to accusations they are 'playing God' and tampering 'with the essence of life'.
In a world first, Craig Venter, a maverick biologist and billionaire entrepreneur, has made a synthetic cell from scratch.

National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair Resigns
National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair has resigned, Fox News has confirmed through senior congressional sources.
President Obama is interviewing candidates to replace Blair, according to ABC News, which first reported the story.
Blair's resignation comes after a series of intelligence failures in the Fort Hood shooting, the failed Christmas Day bombing plot and the attempted Times Square bombing.
A retired Navy admiral, Blair is the third director of national intelligence, a position created in response to the 9/11 attacks.
Blair's tenure as the overseer of the nation's intelligence agencies was marked by turf battles with CIA Director Leon Panetta and controversial public comments in the wake of the Christmas Day airliner bombing attempt.
Views are mixed on the job President Obama is doing, and for the first time his approval rating has dipped below 80 percent among Democrats, a Fox News poll finds.
In all, 45 percent of voters approve and 46 percent disapprove of the president's job performance. Earlier this month 48 percent approved and 43 percent disapproved. A year ago, 60 percent approved and 30 percent disapproved (12-13 May 2009).
Seventy-nine percent of Democrats approve and 12 percent disapprove. That's a record low approval for Obama among his party faithful.
Republicans remain solidly in the disapprove column, as 84 percent give the president a negative rating and 12 percent approve. More independents disapprove (48 percent) than approve (39 percent) -- and that's been true for about two months.
The poll followed up the presidential job rating question with an open-ended question that allowed voters to say in their own words why they approve or disapprove.

 Mexican President Felipe Calderon has been ripping into Arizona's immigration law as he tours Washington -- while appearing to disregard the way his own country cracks down on immigrants along Mexico's southern border. 
Mexico repeatedly has been cited by human rights groups for abusing or turning a blind eye to the abuse of migrants from Central America. Until recently, Mexican law made illegal immigration a criminal offense -- anyone arrested for the violation could be fined, imprisoned for up to two years and deported. Mexican lawmakers changed that in 2008 to make illegal immigration a civil violation like it is in the United States, but their law still reads an awful lot like Arizona's.

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