Thursday, April 29, 2010

Want to get rich? Work for feds

(Washington Examiner) - For decades, public sector unions have peddled the fantasy that government employees were paid less than their counterparts in the private sector. In fact, the pay disparity is the other way around. Government workers, especially at the federal level, make salaries that are scandalously higher than those paid to private sector workers. And let's not forget private sector workers not only have to be sufficiently productive to earn their paychecks, they also must pay the taxes that support the more generous jobs in the public sector.

(Full story)

Oklahoma House passes bill outlawing militias and gang recruiting

(The Oklahoman) - Recruiting membership in an unauthorized militia or the Ku Klux Klan would be a crime if legislation approved Thursday by the House of Representatives becomes law.

"This is making unauthorized militias illegal," said Rep. Mike Shelton, the amendment’s author.

Both groups were added in an amendment to Senate Bill 2018, which would increase the penalty for aiding or soliciting gang membership from one year in prison to five years in prison. It also would create a new crime for gang-related offenses as a condition of membership, with the penalty being five years in prison.

(Full story)

23 states now ban texting while driving

( - Michigan on Wednesday (April 28) became the 23rd state to ban texting while driving, while two other states, Kentucky and Nebraska, approved similar bans earlier this month, according to The Detroit News.

Governor Jennifer Granholm will sign Michigan's measure into law on Friday during a safe-driving rally in Detroit, which will be aired on the "The Oprah Winfrey Show," The News reported. Winfrey has become a vocal supporter of state laws addressing distracted driving.

(Full story)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

FBI agent short on details on militia inquiry

DETROIT (AP) - An FBI agent who led the investigation of nine Michigan militia members charged with trying to launch war against the federal government couldn't recall many details of the two-year probe yesterday during questioning by defense lawyers.

Even the judge who must decide whether to release the nine until trial was puzzled.

"I share the frustrations of the defense team … that she doesn't know anything," U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts said after agent Leslie Larsen confessed she hadn't reviewed her notes recently and couldn't remember specific details of the case.

(Full story)

Baffling presentation to try to explain Afghanistan mess

(Mail Online) - Even the sharpest military minds in American were left baffled by this PowerPoint slide, a mind-boggling attempt to explain the situation in Afghanistan.

"When we understand that slide, we'll have won the war," General Stanley McChrystal, the US and NATO force commander, remarked wryly when confronted by the sprawling spaghetti diagram in a briefing.

(Full story)

Proposal: All New Yorkers become organ donors

NEW YORK (CBS) - New York State Assemblyman Richard Brodsky nearly lost his daughter, Willie, at 4 years old when she needed a kidney transplant, and again 10 years later when her second kidney failed.

"We have 10,000 New Yorkers on the list today waiting for organs. We import half the organs we transplant. It is an unacceptable failed system," Brodsky said.

To fix that, Brodsky introduced a new bill in Albany that would enroll all New Yorkers as an organ donor, unless they actually opt out of organ donation. It would be the first law of its kind in the United States.

(Full story)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Arizona immigration law puts police in 'impossible situation'

(Christian Science Monitor) - Local law enforcement agencies have moved front and center in the national debate over immigration reform with the signing of Arizona's SB1070 immigration law.

The law – signed Friday by Gov. Jan Brewer (R) – requires law enforcement to check the residency status of those thought to be in the country illegally. Police unions were divided on the issue and some leading law enforcement agencies petitioned Governor Brewer not to sign the bill – fearing racial profiling and loss of the public's trust.

(Full story)

Poll: 35 percent of Republicans back 'bailout fund'

(Washington Post blog) - Thirty-five percent of Republicans support "requiring large banks and other financial companies to put money into a fund that would cover the cost of taking over and breaking up any large financial company that fails and threatens the broader economy," the part of the bill labeled the "bailout fund" by Republican leaders. Twenty-seven percent support "having the federal government regulate the complex financial instruments known as derivatives." Forty-four percent support "increasing federal oversight of the way banks and other financial companies make consumer loans, such as mortgages and auto loans, and issue credit cards." And a majority, 53 percent, support "stricter federal regulations on the way Wall Street firms conduct their business."

(Full story)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Motorcyclist jailed for 26 hours for videotaping gun-wielding cop

Motorcyclist Anthony Graber was guilty of speeding. There is no debate about that. But that hardly warrants being threatened with a gun by a plainclothes officer who doesn't even bother to flash a badge.

The real kicker is that Garber was later arrested and thrown in jail for daring to capture the incident on video without the gun-toting cop's permission.

(Full story)

Tax Fury on Facebook

Gary North writes:
    A showdown is coming in November. It will be a showdown between the old boy network and the social networks. A new political force is on the move, that the Establishment has not yet learned how to manipulate.

    The social networks are examples of what free market economist F. A. Hayek called the spontaneous order. It is outside the old boy network.

    The fury over taxes is increasing. This is moving toward a fury over the deficits. This is new. It means that Congress can run, but it can’t hide. Congressmen can run, but they can't hide.

    This will be fun to watch.

Read the full article here.

Congress expected to lift ban on women serving on submarines

(Telegraph) - The decision to allow women into the traditionally male domain comes as the U.S. Navy is also preparing to ban smoking on its submarines.

Women have been banned from working on submarines due to the lack of privacy and close quarters.

But, if Congress approves the plan in the next few days, the first women to join the Service will start in December 2011.

(Full story)

Chicago lawmakers: Call In the National Guard

CHICAGO (AP) - Two lawmakers who believe violence has become so rampant in Chicago that the Illinois National Guard must be called in to help made a public plea to Gov. Pat Quinn on Sunday to deploy troops.

A recent surge in violent crime, including a night last week that saw seven people killed and 18 wounded -- mostly by gunfire -- prompted the request from Chicago Democratic Reps. John Fritchey and LaShawn Ford. They were joined by Willie Williams, whose son was shot and killed in 2006.

(Full story)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Why more U.S. expatriates are turning in their passports

(Time) - For U.S. citizens, cutting ties with their native land is a drastic and irrevocable step. But as Overseas American Week, a lobbying effort by expatriate-advocacy groups, convenes in Washington this week, it's one that an increasing number of American expats are willing to take. According to government records, 502 expatriates renounced U.S. citizenship or permanent residency in the fourth quarter of 2009 — more than double the number of expatriations in all of 2008. And these figures don't include the hundreds — some experts say thousands — of applications languishing in various U.S. consulates and embassies around the world, waiting to be processed. While a small number of Americans hand in their passports each year for political reasons, the new surge in permanent expatriations is mainly because of taxes.

Considering that an estimated 3 million to 6 million Americans reside abroad, the number of renouncements is small. But expatriate organizations say the recent increase reflects a growing dissatisfaction with the way the U.S. government treats its expats and their money: the U.S. is the only industrialized nation that taxes its overseas citizens, subjecting them to taxation in both their country of citizenship and country of residence.

(Full story)

Scrap the Navy?

Fred Reed thinks the U.S. Navy (you know, that "global force for good") is a relic of the past. But don't expect anyone to admit it just yet:
    Does the Navy say to Congress, "We really aren't of much use any longer. We suggest that you scrap the ships and put the money into something else"? Mankind doesn't work that way. The appeals of tradition, ego, and just plain fun run high. (Never underestimate the importance of ego and fun in military policy.) A CVBG is a magnificent thing, just not very useful. The glamor of night flight ops, planes trapping ker-whang!, engines howling at full mil, thirty knots of wind over the flight deck, cat shots throwing fighters into the air – this stuff appeals powerfully to something deep in the male head. The Navy isn't going to give this up.
Read the rest here.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Your papers, please

The fact that any American would tolerate this makes me sick:

"Land of the Free"? Think again.

St. Paul police officer arrested on suspicion of violating protection order

ST PAUL, Minn. (St. Paul Pioneer Press) - A St. Paul police officer was arrested Friday on suspicion of violating a protection order placed against him by a fellow officer and former lover.

"A preliminary investigation indicates that Louis Ferraro engaged in on-going contact with his victim in person, by phone, and via other electronic communications," a police spokesman said in a written statement.

(Full story)

Study confirms link between autism and use of cells from abortions in vaccines

WASHINGTON ( - A new study conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency shows a correlation between the use of cells from babies in abortions in vaccines to an increase in autism rates. The study provides another problem from pro-life advocates who are already concerned about the abortion-vaccine tie.

The study, published in February in the publication Environmental Science & Technology, confirms 1988 as a "change point" in the rise of Autism Disorder rate.

(Full story)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Former U.S. special counsel charged with contempt

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. official in charge of protecting whistle-blowers during the Bush administration has been charged with withholding information from Congress, according to court records filed on Thursday.

Scott Bloch, former head of the Office of Special Counsel, was under investigation by federal authorities and a House of Representatives committee over allegations he mistreated employees and obstructed justice by deleting files from his office computer in 2006.

(Full story)

Obama fights ban of National Day of Prayer

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The Obama administration said Thursday it will appeal a court decision that found the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb in Madison ruled last week the National Day of Prayer that Congress established 58 years ago amounts to a call for religious action.

(Full story)

Senate approves bill to skip pay raise for Congress in 2011

(AP) - The Senate passed a bill Thursday that would deny members of Congress a built-in pay raise next year.

Senators and members of the House make $174,000 a year. They receive an automatic cost-of-living pay hike unless they pass legislation to block it -- as they did last year.

(Full story)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

IRS agent didn't report $41,842 in eBay sales

(Bloomberg) - An Internal Revenue Service agent was found liable for back taxes and penalties for not reporting income on nearly 2,000 transactions on EBay Inc., the online auction site, according to the U.S. Tax Court.

Andrea Fabiana Orellana failed to report $41,842 in income in 2004 and 2005 from sales of designer clothing, shoes and other items, according to a Tax Court summary opinion. Orellana is liable for $12,428 in unpaid taxes and $2,486 in penalties.

(Full story)

Air Force launches unmanned shuttle...and they won't say what it's for

(Mail Online) - It looks like the space shuttle's more diminutive cousin - but experts say it was created with technology from a generation beyond.

The U.S. military launched the mysterious X-37B unmanned winged spacecraft tonight - but what America plans to do with it there is anyone's guess.

The mission has been wrapped in secrecy from the get-go.

(Full story)

Federal air marshal charged with rape

(Seattle Times) - A federal air marshal is being held in jail on $250,000 bail on a charge he raped an escort at gunpoint in a SeaTac hotel while wearing his badge.

According to documents charging Lecheton "Omar" Settles, 30, of Herndon, Va., with first-degree rape, he threatened to use his position as a law-enforcement officer and his government-issued firearm to commit the rape.

(Full story)

Frat inspired by Robert E. Lee bans Rebel uniforms

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - A college fraternity inspired by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee has banned members around the country from wearing Confederate uniforms to "Old South" parties and parades after years of complaints that the tradition was racially insensitive.

The Virginia-based Kappa Alpha Order issued new rules to chapters earlier this year saying members aren't allowed to wear Rebel uniforms to parties or during their parades, which are a staple on campuses across the South.

(Full story)

Governments will "bankrupt us": Marc Faber

(CNBC) - Current economic policies are not sustainable and the world faces doom because "the governments are taking over", said Marc Faber, editor & publisher of The Gloom, Boom & Doom Report.

"They will all bankrupt us and expropriate us, but it may not happen tomorrow. They'll give us something to play with, until the whole system breaks down...they'll just print money and print more money," he said on CNBC Thursday.

(Full story)

Lawmakers predict Congress will pass finance bill

(NY Times) - Senate Republicans and Democrats predicted on Wednesday that Congress would soon pass a far-reaching overhaul of the nation's financial regulatory system, indicating a potentially swift resolution of the latest partisan firefight on Capitol Hill.

But the sides offered starkly different reasons for their optimism, The New York Times's Edward Wyatt and David M. Herszenhorn report. Republicans said that they had forced Democrats back to the bargaining table to negotiate a bipartisan accord, while Democrats said that Republicans were hastily abandoning their opposition in fear of a public outcry.

(Full story)

Black farmers call on Congress to pay racial bias settlement

(CNN) - African-American farmers hoping for government settlement money in a racial bias case met with lawmakers Wednesday and called on Congress to come up with a way to fund the $1 billion deal.

A March 31 deadline to appropriate the funds has passed, and farmers now may withdraw from the settlement and pursue independent litigation against the government. Congress now has a target date of the end of May to come up with a plan.

"We spend a billion dollars on a jet to go bomb somebody. We're talking about a billion dollars to help feed our country, and I just don't see why Congress and the president can't go ahead and find [the funds]. It is an emergency," said Gary Grant, with the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association.

(Full story)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The upside of America's obesity problem

From the AP:
    Too fat to fight? Many American children are so overweight from being fed french fries, pizza and other unhealthy foods at school lunchrooms that they cannot handle the physical rigors of being in the military, a group of retired officers say in a new report.

    National security is threatened by the sharp rise in obesity rates for young people over the last 15 years, the group Mission: Readiness contends. Weight problems are now the leading medical reason that recruits are rejected, the group says, and thus jeopardize the military's ability to fill its ranks.

    In a report released Tuesday, the group says that 9 million young adults, or 27 percent of all Americans ages 17 to 24, are too fat to join the military. The retired officers were on Capitol Hill advocating for passage of a wide-ranging nutrition bill that aims to make the nation's school lunches healthier. ...

    ... The Army is already doing its part to catch the problem earlier, working with high schoolers and interested recruits to lose weight before they are eligible for service, says U.S. Army Recruiting Command's Mark Howell. He added that he had to lose 10 pounds himself before he joined the military.

    "This is the future of our Army we are looking at when we talk about these 17- to 24-year-olds," Howell said. "The sad thing is a lot of them want to join but can't."

"Sad"? Sad that these kids will die of heart attacks in their 60s rather than getting blown to bits by an IED in some Third World country that never posed a threat to us?

New bank tax picks up support in Congress

WASHINGTON (AP) - A new tax on large banks is picking up support in Congress as Democrats target financial institutions that benefited from the Wall Street bailout to help pay for their jobs program and other election-year initiatives.

One senator, Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Tuesday he wants to include the bank tax in a bill stiffening financial regulations, an idea rejected by Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, D-Conn.

(Full story)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Supreme Court strikes down federal animal cruelty law

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court struck down a federal law Tuesday aimed at banning videos that show graphic violence against animals, saying it violates the right to free speech.

The justices, voting 8-1, threw out the criminal conviction of Robert Stevens of Pittsville, Va., who was sentenced to three years in prison for videos he made about pit bull fights.

(Full story)

Tea Party "racism"

Congress demands Fort Hood shooting documents

WASHINGTON (Miami Herald) - Congress and the Obama administration on Monday headed toward a showdown over access to information about how an Army major with known contacts to Islamic extremists was able to carry out a deadly shooting spree at a Texas military base last fall.

Saying the Pentagon and Justice Department had failed to cooperate in Congress' efforts to understand what took place, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs issued subpoenas to Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Attorney General Eric Holder, demanding documents about Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the disgruntled Army psychiatrist charged with killing 13 people and injuring another 32 during a Nov. 5 shooting spree at Fort Hood, Texas.

(Full story)

Monday, April 19, 2010

My food, my choice

Be sure to visit and sign their petition to stop the food police.

New York Times calls for government regulation of the Internet

You know the future of liberty is in question when those who are supposed to be speaking out in defense of our freedoms side with those intent on taking them away. So much for the watchdog press.

(Full story)

Streamwood cop charged in police brutality case

(Chicago Sun-Times) - Stacey Bell awoke to yelling and bright police lights flashing through his bedroom window.

When the 36-year-old Streamwood man looked outside in his driveway, he saw his longtime friend Nolan Stalbaum being Tasered by a uniformed police officer.

(Full story)

Doctors pursue House, Senate seats

WASHINGTON (USA Today) - Forty-seven physicians — 41 Republicans and six Democrats — are running for the House or Senate this year, three times the number of doctors serving in Congress today, according to a USA TODAY review.

An influx of doctors to Congress could alter the landscape for future debates over Medicare and rising insurance premiums months after lawmakers approved President Obama's 10-year, $938 billion health care law.

(Full story)

Good news! 78 percent of Americans distrust the government

WASHINGTON - According to the Pew Research Center, "Nearly 80 percent of Americans say they do not trust the U.S. government to do what is right, expressing the highest level of distrust in Washington in half a century."

Unfortunately, the survey shows that 22 percent of Americans trust the government "just about always" or "most of the time." In other words, nearly one-fourth of people in this country are gullible saps who have no grasp on reality.

(Full story)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Careful what you say about Obama; you just might be guilty of sedition

Time columnist Joe Klein thinks speaking out against Obama borders on sedition:

So, words spoken against the current regime in Washington are worse than the actual unconstitutional and seditious acts of the current regime in Washington? Is that really what we're supposed to believe?

Pentagon planning military strike on Iran

Waging perpetual war in Afghanistan and Iraq wasn't quite as popular as our leaders in Washington had hoped, so now they're pointing to Iran's nuclear program as the next imminent threat that must be eliminated.

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters in New York today that "Military options would go a long way to delaying it." Never mind, of course, that an attack on Iran would only fuel the very terrorism we're supposedly fighting.

Friday, April 16, 2010

BART police pull Tasers, will retrain officers

OAKLAND, Calif. (SF Chronicle) - The BART Police Department stripped its officers of Tasers on Thursday, days after a sergeant fired the electric darts of his stun gun at a 13-year-old boy fleeing from police in Richmond on his bicycle, sources told The Chronicle.

BART officials, who said officers would be retrained to use the devices, attributed the decision to the Richmond incident as well as a recent federal court ruling that narrowed the circumstances under which police can use Tasers.

(Full story)

U.S. won't militarize cyberspace, Congress told

(CNN) - Cyberspace will not be militarized by the United States to protect the country from attacks on civilian computer networks, according to the Pentagon's nominee to head the new U.S. Cyber Command.

During Senate confirmation hearings, Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander tried to alleviate concerns by senators who were nervous the new position could violate laws which prevent the military from operating in domestic issues.

(Full story)

Library of Congress acquires entire Twitter archive

(Library of Congress blog) - Have you ever sent out a "tweet" on the popular Twitter social media service? Congratulations: Your 140 characters or less will now be housed in the Library of Congress.

That's right. Every public tweet, ever, since Twitter's inception in March 2006, will be archived digitally at the Library of Congress. That's a LOT of tweets, by the way: Twitter processes more than 50 million tweets every day, with the total numbering in the billions.

(Full story)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tea Party protesters want MORE government spending

(NPR) - Tea party activists demonstrated outside the Kennedy Center on Thursday while President Obama addressed NASA workers. The protesters accused the president of not providing NASA with a clear direction and a specific mission.

(Full story)

Happy Tax Day!

Congress outlaws all Caller ID spoofing (VoIP too)

(Ars Technica) - The House has passed the "Truth in Caller ID Act of 2010" (PDF), which does exactly what its name would lead you to believe.

Under the bill, it becomes illegal "to cause any caller ID service to transmit misleading or inaccurate caller ID information, with the intent to defraud and deceive." The bill maintains an exemption for blocking one's own outgoing caller ID information, and law enforcement isn't affected.

(Full story)

Senate considers tax rise on buyout-firm managers, Schumer says

WASHINGTON (Bloomberg) - The U.S. Senate, seeking funds for jobs bills and other initiatives, will consider adopting a House proposal to more than double tax rates on executives at private- equity firms, said Senator Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat.

The proposal, projected to raise $24.6 billion over a decade, would affect venture capitalists, managers of real- estate partnerships, and hedge-fund managers who make long-term investments. Passed by the House three times, most recently in December as part of a jobs bill, it hasn't come to a vote in the Senate, where some Democrats have signaled they would oppose it.

(Full story)

Election 2012: Barack Obama 42%, Ron Paul 41%

(Rasmussen Reports) - Pit maverick Republican Congressman Ron Paul against President Obama in a hypothetical 2012 election match-up, and the race is – virtually dead even.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of likely voters finds Obama with 42% support and Paul with 41% of the vote. Eleven percent (11%) prefer some other candidate, and six percent (6%) are undecided.

(Full story)

Congress urges baseball to ban smokeless tobacco

WASHINGTON (AP) - After hounding Major League Baseball and its players union over steroids, Congress now wants the sport to ban smokeless tobacco.

"Good luck," San Francisco Giants reliever Brandon Medders(notes) said. “Guys do what they do. We work outside. It’s been part of the game for 100 years.”

At a hearing Wednesday, House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, and Health Subcommittee chairman Frank Pallone, a New Jersey Democrat, called on baseball and its players to agree to bar major leaguers from using chew, dip or similar products during games.

(Full story)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

'Policing for profit' report documents the nationwide abuse of civil forfeiture

ARLINGTON, Virginia (Institute for Justice) - It's called policing for profit and it's happening all across America.

Police and prosecutors' offices seize private property — often without ever charging the owners with a crime — then keep or sell what they've taken and use the profits to fund their budgets. And considering law enforcement officials in most states don't report the value of what they collect or how that bounty is spent, the issue raises serious questions about both government transparency and accountability.

Under state and federal civil asset forfeiture laws, law enforcement agencies can seize and keep property suspected of involvement in criminal activity. Unlike criminal asset forfeiture, however, with civil forfeiture, a property owner need not be found guilty of a crime — or even charged—to permanently lose her cash, car, home or other property.

(Full story)

New immigration bill puts local police on front line of border battle

PHOENIX, Arizona ( - There was both outrage and praise Tuesday night for the passage of what many are calling the "toughest immigration law in the country.”

It makes it a state crime to be an undocumented immigrant and it criminalizes hiring and transporting illegal immigrants.

(Full story)

Some Republicans open to climate change bill

WASHINGTON (Benzinga) - Today, some Republicans in Congress made it known that they would be open to the possibility of voting for a climate change bill that is set to be introduced next week.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) specifically praised the sector-by-sector approach of the bill, claiming that such an approach was the correct way to handle reducing greenhouse gases. Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) also expressed openness to the bill, a marked departure from sharp Republican criticism during the preliminary stages of recent bills.

(Full story)

Congress could skip budget blueprint this year

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Democratic-controlled U.S. Congress could forego trying to approve a budget blueprint this year, a move that could avert a divisive spending battle but complicate efforts to close the record budget deficit.

After the bruising battle to pass healthcare reform, Democratic leaders are assessing whether their members have the stomach for another tough vote before the November congressional elections.

(Full story)

'Housewives' star calls on Congress for arts funds

WASHINGTON (AP) - "Desperate Housewives" actor Kyle MacLachlan, who plays Orson Hodge on the series, urged lawmakers Tuesday to increase arts funding, saying he got his start performing in community theaters that received federal grants.

MacLachlan joined hundreds of arts advocates on Capitol Hill to press Congress for increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, even as federal deficits could trigger budget cuts.

(Full story)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Video shows student beaten; Cops suspended

COLLEGE PARK, Maryland (WTOP) - Three Prince George's County police officers are under investigation after a video showed them beating an unarmed University of Maryland student with their batons after the Maryland-Duke game last month.

An attorney for a student released the video after prosecutors dropped charges against Benjamin C. Donat, 19, and John J. McKenna, 21. They had been charged with felonies on suspicion of assaulting officers on horseback and their horses.

(Full story)

Judge tells Mississippi schools to stop segregating

(Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Tuesday ordered a rural Mississippi school district to comply with a nearly 40-year-old order and halt long-disputed practices that led to racial segregation in its schools.

The Justice Department accused the Walthall County School District in rural Mississippi of annually permitting more than 300 students, most of them white, to transfer to a school outside of their residential area, shifting its racial makeup.

(Full story)

7 states join suit over federal gun control

HELENA, Montana (AP) - The list of states joining the legal battle over federal gun control is growing.

A total of seven states filed "friend of the court" briefs by Monday's deadline to do so. And the Montana attorney general also is seeking to intervene in a lawsuit first filed by gun advocates in U.S. District Court in Missoula.

The legal fight is based on a law first passed in Montana that seeks to exempt guns made and sold within its borders from federal regulation.

(Full story)

Governor likely to sign abortion bills

LINCOLN, Nebraska (Omaha World-Herald) - Nebraska would step into uncharted legal territory Tuesday if, as expected, Gov. Dave Heineman signs two new abortion bills into law.

Legislative Bill 594, passed on a 40-9 vote by the Nebraska Legislature Monday, would require extensive screening of women seeking abortions. The bill would hold doctors civilly responsible if a screening falls short.

(Full story)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Alabama Senate votes to criminalize use of herb

MONTGOMERY (Huntsville Times) - The Alabama Senate Thursday approved a bill that would classify a herb known as Salvia divinorum as a Schedule I controlled substance in the same category as drugs such as heroin, LSD and morphine.

Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, who sponsored the bill, credited Deborah Soule of Huntsville, director of The Partnership for a Drug-Free Community, with keeping the issue in front of lawmakers.

(Full story)

Concealed-gun bill sent to Arizona governor

(Arizona Republic) - Within the next week, Arizona could become the first state with a large urban population to allow U.S. citizens 21 and older to carry a concealed firearm without a permit. Only Alaska and Vermont have similar allowances.

Senate Bill 1108, crafted by Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, passed in the House of Representatives on Thursday with a vote of 36-19 and no comments from either side.

(Full story)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Ron Paul's speech at the 2010 Southern Republican Leadership Conference

Oklahoma House panel passes birth date measure

(Oklahoman) - A House committee easily passed a measure Thursday that would make birth dates of public employees confidential.

Opponents of the measure have said that keeping the birth dates of public employees secret violates taxpayers’ right to know the conduct of those who get paid with tax dollars, such as teachers, police officers, state troopers and elected officials.

(Full story)

14 states hiked cigarette taxes last year

( - Fourteen states, the District of Columbia and the federal government raised cigarette taxes last year, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Cigarette taxes went up in Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin.

(Full story)

One iPod, one submarine: $90 million damage

(Herald Sun) - A US nuclear submarine rammed another ship causing nearly $90 million damage - while its navigator was listening to his iPod.

The Sun reports sailors aboard the USS Hartford had also rigged up loudspeakers so they could play music on duty.

Sonar operators and radio men were missing from their posts and others drove the attack sub "with one hand on the controls and their shoes off", an official report said.

(Full story)

FAA halts plane towing Tiger Woods taunts

AUGUSTA, Georgia (AP) - An airplane that towed banners taunting Tiger Woods about his sex scandal during the Masters has been ordered to stop until it undergoes minor repairs.

Kathleen Bergen, an Atlanta-based spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said Friday that FAA flight safety inspectors issued the order after meeting with the plane's pilot.

(Full story)

Obama administration authorizes CIA to kill US citizen

(TruthOut) - The Obama administration has lowered another legal barrier shielding Americans from extrajudicial punitive action by their own government, in this case authorizing the CIA to kill a US citizen suspected of having ties to al-Qaeda in Yemen and links to two attacks inside the United States last year.

Anwar al-Awlaki, a Muslim cleric born in New Mexico but now living in Yemen, may be the first US citizen targeted for assassination by the CIA under a counter-terror policy established by President George W. Bush and since embraced by President Barack Obama.

(Full story)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Judge invalidates human gene patent

(NY Times) - A federal judge on Monday struck down patents on two genes linked to breast and ovarian cancer. The decision, if upheld, could throw into doubt the patents covering thousands of human genes and reshape the law of intellectual property.

United States District Court Judge Robert W. Sweet issued the 152-page decision, which invalidated seven patents related to the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2, whose mutations have been associated with cancer.

(Full story)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Flu shots for nursing home workers futile: study

(National Post) - A new Canadian-led study has added to a simmering scientific dispute over flu-shot campaigns, concluding that immunizing nursing-home workers does nothing to cut the number of confirmed influenza cases among the homes' elderly residents.

Coming at the end of the largest flu-vaccination campaign in Canadian history, the review of previous studies calls for stepped-up research into alternative, lower-tech ways to combat the virus, such as improved hand washing.

(Full story)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Man billed "crash tax" for emergency response

CHICAGO HEIGHTS, Ill. (CBS) - If you get into a car accident and 911 is called, you may get billed for the emergency response. Cash-strapped communities are sending out bills to cover the costs of fire trucks responding to crashes. As CBS 2 Investigator Dave Savini reports, often times it does not matter whether you caused the accident or are the victim.

Cary Feldman received one of these bills last summer. He was driving his motor scooter in Chicago Heights when he was struck from behind. He was fine, but someone else called 911, and a fire truck was sent to the scene.

(Full story)

Health law may allow Viagra coverage for sex offenders

WASHINGTON (Roll Call) - The Congressional Research Service confirmed in a memo Wednesday that rapists and sex offenders may get federally subsidized Viagra and other sexual performance enhancing drugs under the recently passed health care reform law -- information that Republicans charge will haunt Democrats in upcoming elections.

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Nearly half of U.S. households escape federal income tax

WASHINGTON (AP) - Tax Day is a dreaded deadline for millions, but for nearly half of U.S. households it's simply somebody else's problem.

About 47 percent will pay no federal income taxes at all for 2009. Either their incomes were too low, or they qualified for enough credits, deductions and exemptions to eliminate their liability. That's according to projections by the Tax Policy Center, a Washington research organization.

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The door mat no home should be without

Available online from

Prosecutor says sex ed teachers could be charged

MAUSTON, Wis. (AP) - Juneau County's district attorney is warning school districts that sex education teachers could be charged with contributing to delinquency of a minor.

A new law takes effect this fall that requires schools with sex ed programs to teach children how to use condoms and other contraceptives.

DA Scott Southworth says the requirement encourages sex among minors, which is illegal. Southworth says it's like teaching children about alcohol use, then instructing them on how make a mixed drink.

(Full story)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tighter rules fail to stem deaths of innocent Afghans at checkpoints

KABUL (NY Times) - American and NATO troops firing from passing convoys and military checkpoints have killed 30 Afghans and wounded 80 others since last summer, but in no instance did the victims prove to be a danger to troops, according to military officials in Kabul.

"We have shot an amazing number of people, but to my knowledge, none has ever proven to be a threat," said Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who became the senior American and NATO commander in Afghanistan last year. His comments came during a recent videoconference to answer questions from troops in the field about civilian casualties.

(Full story)

Monday, April 5, 2010

U.S. confirms leaked video of helicopter attack real

(National Post) - Dramatic and disturbing video of a U.S. military Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad three years ago that killed 12 people, including two Reuters news employees, has been released by whistleblower website WikiLeaks.

The release on Monday of the classified footage from the July 2007 attack, recorded by helicopter gun cameras, comes just two weeks after a leak to the website of a classified U.S. counterintelligence report identifying WikiLeaks as a potential threat to national security.

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Toyota faces $16 million fine, accused by feds of hiding defect

WASHINGTON (AP) - The government accused Toyota of hiding a "dangerous defect" and proposed a record $16.4 million fine on Monday for failing to quickly alert regulators to safety problems in gas pedals on popular models such as the Camry and Corolla.

The proposed fine, announced Monday by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, is the most the government could levy for the sticking gas pedals that have led Toyota to recall millions of vehicles. There could be further penalties under continuing federal investigations. The Japanese automaker faces private lawsuits seeking many millions more.

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Sheriff gets inmates moving on electricity-generating cycles

PHOENIX (ABC15) - Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is implementing a new inmate program at Tent City Jail called "Pedal Vision."

The program uses inmate-powered cycles to generate electricity for televisions.

Reports say Arpaio's recent visit to Tent City inspired the idea, when he saw that many of the inmates were overweight.

(Full story)

"Death panels" will save money

The Medicare Advisory Board will essentially have the power to decide which treatments will be covered under "Obamacare." The less-than-surprising admission is made by Keynesian economist Paul Krugman:
In other words, this "death panel" will get to decide who lives and who dies. Welcome to rationed health care.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Obama's 17-minute response to woman's claim of being "over-taxed"

(44) - Obama started out feisty. "Well, let's talk about that, because this is an area where there's been just a whole lot of misinformation, and I'm going to have to work hard over the next several months to clean up a lot of the misapprehensions that people have," the president said.

He then spent the next 17 minutes and 12 seconds lulling the crowd into a daze. His discursive answer - more than 2,500 words long -- wandered from topic to topic, including commentary on the deficit, pay-as-you-go rules passed by Congress, Congressional Budget Office reports on Medicare waste, COBRA coverage, the Recovery Act and Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (he referred to this last item by its inside-the-Beltway name, "F-Map"). He talked about the notion of eliminating foreign aid (not worth it, he said). He invoked Warren Buffett, earmarks and the payroll tax that funds Medicare (referring to it, in fluent Washington lingo, as "FICA").

(Full story)

U.S. Special Forces "tried to cover-up" botched Khataba raid in Afghanistan

KABUL (The Times) - U.S. special forces soldiers dug bullets out of their victims' bodies in the bloody aftermath of a botched night raid, then washed the wounds with alcohol before lying to their superiors about what happened, Afghan investigators have told The Times.

Two pregnant women, a teenage girl, a police officer and his brother were shot on February 12 when US and Afghan special forces stormed their home in Khataba village, outside Gardez in eastern Afghanistan. The precise composition of the force has never been made public.

(Full story)

Air Force to launch robotic winged space plane

LOS ANGELES (AP) - After a decade of development, the Air Force this month plans to launch a robotic spacecraft resembling a small space shuttle to conduct technology tests in orbit and then glide home to a California runway.

The ultimate purpose of the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle and details about the craft, which has been passed between several government agencies, however, remain a mystery as it is prepared for launch April 19 from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

(Full story)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Guard recruiter faces child exploitation charges

Casper Star Tribune - Martin Frank of Casper, Wyoming, faces up to 24 years in prison after being charged Wednesday with two counts of sexual exploitation of a child.

Frank is a recruiter in the Casper area with the Wyoming National Guard, according to Deidre Forster, public affairs officer with the National Guard in Cheyenne.

(Full story)

FBI: "Extremist" group sent letter demanding resignation of Nevada governor

(Las Vegas Sun) - The FBI confirmed today that it sent an advisory to Nevada and other states notifying authorities of an extremist group's demand to remove governors from office, but said federal officials did not believe the group was an "immediate or credible" threat of violence.

Stricter security measures were put in place in the Nevada Capitol this week after police received a letter addressed to Gov. Jim Gibbons, telling him to resign his office. It made a reference to "commandeering" the office if Gibbons declined.

(Full story)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Officers accused of using Taser on 10-year-old

MARTINSVILLE, Ind. (RTV6) - Two Martinsville police officers have been suspended after they were accused of using a Taser to subdue a 10-year-old.

A news release from the mayor's office and the Martinsville Police Department said the officers responded Tuesday evening to Tender Teddies Day Care on reports of a 10-year-old who was out of control.

(Full story)

Post-Palin Alaska has largest debt burden in U.S.

(Raw Story) - Sarah Palin has long sold herself as a fiscal conservative, arguing against the Democrats' health overhaul on the grounds that the nation simply can't afford it.

But when the former vice presidential candidate resigned as governor of Alaska in the summer of 2009, she left the state with a 70 percent debt-to-GDP ratio -- the highest state debt burden in the United States.

(Full story)

Wanted: Your help choosing health care refrom t-shirt slogan

The current regime in Washington would like your help in choosing a catchy t-shirt slogan to help commemorate health care "reform" and convince the masses that what was crammed down their throats is actually good for them. The choices range from the classic, like the already hackneyed "Change" mantra, to the contemporary, such as "Health reform is a BFD." Oh, yeah, they really take this stuff seriously.

Vote for your favorite here.