Melissa Harris-Perry apologizes to Romney family – By HADAS GOLD | 12/31/13 8:50 AM EST

MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry apologized in a series of tweets Tuesday morning for using Mitt Romney’s black adopted grandchild in a comedy segment over the weekend.

“I am sorry. Without reservation or qualification. I apologize to the Romney family,” the apology started. “I work by guiding principle that those who offend do not have the right to tell those they hurt that they (are) wrong for hurting. Therefore, while I meant no offense, I want to immediately apologize to the Romney family for hurting them.”

(VIDEO: MSNBC uses Romney grandson in comedy segment)

Each tweet of the apology came with the hashtag #MHPApology.

“As (a) black child born into large white Mormon family I feel familiarity w/ Romney family (picture) & never meant to suggest otherwise,” she continued. “I apologize to all families built on loving transracial adoptions who feel I degraded their lives or choices.”

(Also on POLITICO: Palin: MSNBC ‘dispicable’)

In the segment, part of an hour taking a comedic look at 2013, Harris-Perry pulled up a Romney family photo with the newly adopted grandson, who is black, sitting on Mitt Romney’s knee.

One panelist, actress Pia Glenn, sang “one of these things is not like the other” with another joking that it was representative of the Republican Party’s lack of diversity. “It really sums up the diversity of the Republican Party, the RNC. At the convention, they find the one black person,” said comedian Dean Obeidallah.

(Also on POLITICO: MSNBC jokes about Romney’s grandson)

Harris-Perry joked about Romney’s grandson marrying the child of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. The segment brought on a backlash from people like Sarah Palin, Scott Brown and conservative bloggers, demanding MSNBC apologize.

Update 12 p.m.:

Harris-Perry has also posted an apology on, in which she said the point of featuring the photo was to celebrate it:

On Sunday’s program, we showed a photo of Governor Romney holding his adopted grandson, who is African-American.

The intent of featuring the photo was to celebrate it — I often speak to the issue of the increasingly diverse American family.

Whatever the intent, the segment proceeded in an unexpected way that was offensive. Without reservation or qualification, I apologize to the Romney family and to all families built on loving transracial adoptions.

The new leaders on gun safety in 2013? Moms! – By Trymaine Lee 12/31/13 08:15 AM—UPDATED 12/31/13 10:54 AM

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A little more than a month after Neil Heslin’s little boy was shot and killed along with 19 other first-graders at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Heslin sat before a group of Connecticut lawmakers and wondered aloud why any American needed the kind of firepower used in the killings.

“Is there anybody in this room that can give me one reason or challenge this question, why anybody in this room needs to have one of these assault-style weapons or military weapons or high-capacity clips?” Heslin said. Heslin paused for a moment and looked around the room. “And not one person can answer that question or give me an answer.”

Then, he got an answer.

“Our rights will not be infringed!” someone called out. “Second Amendment!” yelled another.

Only weeks had passed since Heslin’s son, Jesse Lewis, 6, and his classmates were gunned down. But already the nation’s collective heartbreak was beginning to spiral into hostility and angry debate over America’s deadly obsession with guns.

After Newtown, there were calls for stricter gun-control measures aimed at keeping firearms out of the hands of people like Adam Lanza, the killer.

The pendulum of the gun control debate has swung back and forth. There have been victories and failures for gun-safety groups, whose efforts have been largely supported by President Barack Obama, other Democrats, and a broad movement that formed after Sandy Hook. But there’s also been more bloodshed.

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California Should Secede From The United States…..

…..and begin the building  of the Newnited States of America. We can start all over and get it right this time.

I’ll move back in a heartbeat.

Social Media as a Megaphone to Pressure the Food Industry – By STEPHANIE STROM Published: December 30, 2013

Renee Shutters has long worried that food dyes — used in candy like blue M&M’s — were hurting her son, Trenton.

She testified before the Food and Drug Administration, but nothing happened. It wasn’t until she went online, using a petition with the help of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, that her pleas to remove artificial dyes from food seemed to be heard.

Mars, the candy’s maker, is now hinting that it may soon replace at least one of the dyes with an alternative derived from seaweed.

“I’ve really thought about calling them,” Ms. Shutters said about Mars. “I’m not trying to be this horrible person. What I’m really thinking is that this is an opportunity for their company to lead what would be an awesome publicity coup by taking these dyes out of their products.”

While the F.D.A. continues to allow certain dyes to be used in foods, deeming them safe, parents and advocacy groups have been using websites and social media as powerful megaphones to force titans of the food industry to reconsider the ingredients in their foods and the labeling and processing of their products. In several instances in the last year or so, major food companies and fast-food chains have shifted to coloring derived from spices or other plant-based sources, or changed or omitted certain labels from packaging.

Matthew Egol, a partner at Booz & Company, the consulting firm, said that while food companies had benefited from social media to gain rapid insight into trends, data on what products to introduce and which words to use in marketing, they also had been the target of complaints that sometimes become magnified in an online environment.

Mr. Egol said companies were approaching the negative feedback they get with new tools that help them assess the risks posed by consumer criticism. “Instead of relying on a P.R. firm, you have analytical tools to quantify how big an issue it is and how rapidly it’s spreading and how influential the people hollering are,” he said. “Then you can make a decision about how to respond. It happens much more quickly.”

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Firing Season Begins With a Fusillade

Black Monday lived up to its billing this year as five N.F.L. coaches and one general manager were fired in a dramatic, if unsurprising, mass catharsis that left owners across the league ready to reset the clock and shop for replacements.

The teams showed little in the way of patience — the Cleveland Browns even did their part to beat the rush by dismissing Rob Chudzinski on Sunday night. They were followed by the Minnesota Vikings, who ousted Leslie Frazier on Monday morning, and then the Washington Redskins, who dismissed Mike Shanahan before lunch.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers waited until early afternoon, but they fired Greg Schiano and the general manager, Mark Dominik. The Detroit Lions followed, making Jim Schwartz the fifth coach of the day to find himself jobless. His team skidded out of the playoff picture by losing six of the last seven games.

Like Black Friday, the modern shopping holiday, Black Monday is, at its root, a day about new acquisitions. The troubled teams all hope to move past their difficult seasons and begin a new era — presumably with the coming announcement of a new coach, in the hope that happiness can be found in the next big purchase.

None of Monday’s moves qualified as a surprise, although the Browns’ decision did seem a bit abrupt, given that Chudzinski was given only a year to turn around a franchise mired in irrelevance. His team went 4-12, but the Browns have had only one winning season in the past decade.

The wholesale dumping of coaches has become a tradition on the day after the end of the N.F.L. regular season. This year did not quite reach the level of last year when seven coaches and five general managers were ushered into unemployment. But there was at least one asterisk — the Houston Texans jumped the gun by firing Gary Kubiak on Dec. 6.

If the dismissals are the first step in the Black Monday dance, the owner’s statements are the next. On a day of dizzying personnel changes, echoing sentiments about “new directions” and “new focus” rang out across the land.

The Browns’ owner, Jimmy Haslam, declared, “Nobody cares more about winning than the people you’re looking at right now, especially the owner.”

Bryan Glazer, a co-chairman of the Buccaneers, said, “The results over the past two years have not lived up to our standards, and we believe the time has come to find a new direction.”

Daniel Snyder, the owner of the Redskins, said, “We will focus on what it takes to build a winning team, and my pledge to this organization and to this community is to continue to commit the resources and talent necessary to put this team back in the playoffs.”

Shanahan’s dismissal by Snyder was perhaps the most widely expected move of the day, coming after a drawn-out and widely publicized rift between owner and coach that played out during Shanahan’s weekly news conferences, which doubled as opportunities for Shanahan to needle Snyder and cast aspersions on his quarterback.

If there was a surprise in Washington, it was that Snyder did not fire Shanahan the instant the team finished sputtering through its 13th loss Sunday, this one to the Giants.

Shanahan’s stormy 24-40 tenure in Washington included three seasons with double-digit losses and the questionable handling of the talented quarterback Robert Griffin III. Shanahan was widely criticized after last season for leaving Griffin in a playoff game — and eventual loss — against the Seattle Seahawks when he was hobbling on an injured knee. The injury helped sink this season, as Griffin never recovered his rookie form.

In Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers were so disappointed by their 4-12 season — which included a particularly gruesome 0-8 start — that Schiano and Dominik are now looking for work. Dominik presided for five seasons and exactly one playoff appearance. Schiano, who took over after a successful run at Rutgers, was hired to restore discipline after Raheem Morris was fired two years ago, but his disciplinarian ways apparently grew old quickly.

In Detroit, Schwartz’s fate was sealed sometime during the Lions’ season-ending tailspin, a collapse marked by penalties, turnovers and blown fourth-quarter leads. This followed a 6-3 start that offered relief after a miserable 4-12 season last year. Schwartz had one trip to the playoffs, in 2011, and a memorable postgame confrontation that season with San Francisco Coach Jim Harbaugh, but, otherwise, Schwartz’s tenure could be summed up in his 29-51 record.

“He’s done a lot of good things for this team and this organization, so it’s tough,” Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford told reporters after the announcement. “I’ve only played for one head coach in the N.F.L., Coach Schwartz, and I felt like we had a great locker room. It’s not always what everyone hears on the outside. It was a joy to play for him. It was fun.”