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Showing posts from January, 2011

A Mighty Wind

You may literally need to watch your ass in Africa:Breaking wind is set to be made a crime in an African country.

The government of Malawi plan to punish persistent offenders 'who foul the air' in a bid to 'mould responsible and disciplined citizens.'

But locals fear that pinning responsibility on the crime will be difficult - and may lead to miscarriages of justice as 'criminals' attempt to blame others for their offence.

One Malawian told the website Africanews.com: 'My goodness. What happens in a public place where a group is gathered. Do they lock up half a minibus?

'And how about at meetings where it is difficult to pinpoint 'culprits'?

'Children will openly deny having passed bad air and point at an elder. Culturally, this is very embarrassing,' she said.

Another said: 'We have serious issues affecting Malawians today. I do not know how fouling the air should take priority over regulating Chinese investments which do not employ…

Legal Smackdown

Obamacare is unconstitutional:U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson ruled that the reform law's so-called individual mandate went too far in requiring that Americans start buying health insurance in 2014 or pay a penalty.

"Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire act must be declared void," he wrote, "This has been a difficult decision to reach and I am aware that it will have indeterminable implications."

Referring to a key provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Vinson sided with governors and attorneys general from 26 U.S. states, almost all of whom are Republicans, in declaring the Obama healthcare reform unconstitutional.

"Regardless of how laudable its attempts may have been to accomplish these goals in passing the act, Congress must operate within the bounds established by the Constitution," Vinson, who was appointed to the bench by Republican President Ronald Reagan, ruled.There's tha…

Evolution Revolution

Well, this isn't good news:Researchers from seven countries have collaborated to analyze how a single strain of Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria has morphed over 30 years and spread across the world, in an attempt to overcome the development of antibiotics and vaccines.

The research is the first detailed genetic picture of the evolution of a specific strain of pneumonia, resulting in a family tree of sorts. The researchers analyzed samples from North and South America, Africa and Southeast Asia.

Their findings appear in the current issue of the journal Science.

In looking at more than 240 samples, they found that since 1984, when the strain was first identified in Spain, it has turned over about three-quarters of its genome.

Over time, the bacteria mutated to better resist antibiotics and vaccines. The researchers found that it underwent both recombination, in which the DNA shuffles around, and base substitutions, in which individual nucleic acids in a DNA sequence change.

T…

Big Brother Is Storing You

I really hope this isn't a sign of things to come from our new Congress:The House Republicans' first major technology initiative is about to be unveiled: a push to force Internet companies to keep track of what their users are doing.

A House panel chaired by Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin is scheduled to hold a hearing tomorrow morning to discuss forcing Internet providers, and perhaps Web companies as well, to store records of their users' activities for later review by police.

One focus will be on reviving a dormant proposal for data retention that would require companies to store Internet Protocol (IP) addresses for two years, CNET has learned.

Tomorrow's data retention hearing is juxtaposed against the recent trend to protect Internet users' privacy by storing less data. Last month, the Federal Trade Commission called for "limited retention" of user data on privacy grounds, and in the last 24 hours, both Mozilla and Google have announced …

Big Sis's House

Private screeners are out:A program that allows airports to replace government screeners with private screeners is being brought to a standstill, just a month after the Transportation Security Administration said it was "neutral" on the program.

TSA chief John Pistole said Friday he has decided not to expand the program beyond the current 16 airports, saying he does not see any advantage to it.

Though little known, the Screening Partnership Program allowed airports to replace government screeners with private contractors who wear TSA-like uniforms, meet TSA standards and work under TSA oversight. Among the airports that have "opted out" of government screening are San Francisco and Kansas City.

The push to "opt out" gained attention in December amid the fury over the TSA's enhanced pat downs, which some travelers called intrusive.

Rep. John Mica, a Republican from Florida, wrote a letter encouraging airports to privatize their airport screeners, sayin…

Credit Crunch

The IMF is concerned:U.S. officials must act quickly to control government deficits or face slower growth and even more difficult choices in the future, the International Monetary Fund said Thursday in a report criticizing the tepid U.S. response to its rising public debt.

The IMF warning comes as federal officials grapple with a congressional projection this week that the annual deficit will reach a historic $1.5 trillion this year. This was the latest report to raise concerns about how massive government debts in developed countries could undermine the global economic recovery.

"The U.S. has a lot of credibility. This does not imply their credibility can last forever," IMF fiscal affairs director Carlo Cottarelli said as he released the IMF study. It concluded that the United States is falling behind on a promise it made to other top economic countries to halve its budget deficit by 2013.

"This is a problem many years in the making and will take a concerted effort b…

The Witches Of Romania

Even witches have to pay their taxes:While witches enjoy popular support in Romania, many in the government view them as swindlers whose presence makes their country seem superstitious and backwards. In 2003, two witches in northwestern Romania were charged with fraud when their cures failed to work. Police encouraged villagers not to believe the claims of witches. Tensions grew as Romania prepared to enter the EU. British newspapers reported that more witches were learning English and raised concerns that disgruntled witches would flee Romania and set up shop in western EU nations. Andrei Chiliman, mayor of the First District in the capital of Bucharest, called for taxing witches. He also demanded greater resources to prosecute witches with fraud. He remarked, “If money from witchcraft can buy the kind of houses they have, it means witches must owe the State huge amounts of money. All we want to do is recover money and stop the fraud.”

Romania became an EU member in 2007. When publi…

Keeping the Internets Safe For Democracy

As the situation in Egypt unfolds, suddenly shutting down the Web doesn't sound like such a great idea after all:In Egypt, it appears that the government demanded that its four major ISPs shut down service. Could the U.S. government get away with asking Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon, and the like to shut down their networks to stop citizens from organizing protests? Anything is possible, of course, but at this point, it seems unlikely.

The current administration has already condemned the shut down in Egypt. In a Friday tweet, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the administration is "very concerned about violence in Egypt - government must respect the rights of the Egyptian people & turn on social networking and internet."

PJ Crowley, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, also tweeted that the "events unfolding in #Egypt are of deep concern. Fundamental rights must be respected, violence avoided and open communications allowed."

Pr…

Great Society Rewind

President Obama, living in the past:Barack Obama is stuck in the 1960s. And it's not just because his style of liberalism -- spend, spend, spend! -- is reminiscent of that era. Liberals since the New Deal have enjoyed spending. It's because he likes to spend money as if we are in the middle of the greatest economic boom in the history of the nation, as if there's plenty of cash to go around. The country could afford, in the 1960s, to send a man to the moon and to create brand new entitlement programs. Real GDP increased, on average, by 4.4 percent every year for the whole decade. But those days are long gone. As much as getting a great return on an "investment" in infrastructure improvement is appealing, it's always a bad idea to invest one's spare cash when the creditors are about to bust down the door. Ever dime should go to deficit reduction -- not two for new spending, one for the deficit.Perhaps by invoking the past (as he now seems to be doing by cl…

People For The Ethical Treatment Of Bad T.V. Shows

Oh, this makes perfect sense:Despite advertiser defection (and declining ratings), MTV is standing by controversial scripted series Skins.

Reports claiming the network is pulling the plug on creator Bryan Elsley’s adaption of his UK hit prompted a statement from the network.

“MTV stands by the US adaptation of Skins and the vision of its creator Bryan Elsley,” the network said in a statement. “Skins has earned the loyalty of fans across the globe for its thoughtful and honest portrayal of teen life today. An internationally acclaimed scripted drama, the show has been honored with a long list of prestigious awards."
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And if MTV’s sales team continues to see a sponsor exodus, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have graciously offered the step into the breach — and generate some publicity of its own.

The non-profit organization has offered up a 30-second spot featuring Pink and Ricky Gervais giving voice to a computer-generated alligator and rabbit who make the ca…

Favoritism Under Fire

So, why are some Obamacare opponents more equal than others?The Obama administration’s waivers to temporarily exempt certain companies, unions, and charities from rules established by the new health care law are a “perfect example of special interests” having influence in the administration and will be looked into by Congress, Sen. Charles Grassley, the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee told CNSNews.com.

"You’re going to find out that by the president doing that with the secretary of HHS, he violated one of his main principles when he ran for office--and that was that special interests were not going to have an in in his administration,” said Grassley. “And this is a perfect example of special interests having an in in his administration when they get those waivers.”
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CNSNews.com previously reported that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued waivers to 222 entities – companies, unions and charitable organizations. Among those entities, 45 were…

Rediscovering The Gipper

Obama, now channeling Reagan?At a glance, it's hard to imagine a President who had less in common with Reagan than the Ivy League lawyer from Hawaii who seeks larger federal investments, a bigger social safety net and new regulations for Wall Street and Big Oil. But under the surface, there is no mistaking Obama's increasing reliance on his predecessor's career as a helpful template for his own. Since the November elections, Obama has brought corporate executives into the White House, reached out to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and made compromise his new watchword. He signed a surprise $858 billion tax cut that would have made Reagan weep with joy and huddled with Reagan's former White House chief of staff Ken Duberstein for lessons learned when the Gipper governed amid economic troubles. Over the Christmas break, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs tweeted that Obama was reading a Reagan biography, and just to confirm the bond, Obama recently wrote an homage to …

Filibuster Follies

The filibuster lives:Lost in the hubbub over President Obama's State of the Union speech was the quiet death of liberal Democratic hopes to "reform" the Senate filibuster. Those hopes officially expired at 10:20 p.m. Tuesday, as lawmakers prepared the leave the Capitol after the president's speech, when the Senate adjourned for the first time this year.

For months, some Democrats had been working on a plan to use a parliamentary maneuver called the "nuclear option" to put an end to minority Republicans' ability to block Democratic initiatives. Under that scenario, on the first day of its session -- and only on the first day -- the Senate would be able to change its rules regarding filibusters with a simple majority vote. Normally, it takes 67 votes to change the Senate's rules, but on the first day, Democrats believed, they could kill the filibuster with just a 51-vote majority.
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Why did Democrats give in? Two reasons. One, they know they m…

The Plan Remains The Same

Details? Who needs details?President Obama's statement in yesterday evening's State of the Union speech that "the rules have changed" will likely surprise many taxpayers hoping for more specifics on how much they'll save – or pay – due to his fiscal policy proposals. According to a line-by-line analysis of his State of the Union speech by the non-partisan National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF), all the quantifiable items in President Obama's speech taken together would increase federal spending by more than $20 billion, but the large number of items whose impact is unclear could dramatically affect this total.

"President Obama's speech last night hinted at tax reform, and spending restraint, but also opened the door to tax increases and major spending initiatives," said NTUF Senior Policy Analyst Demian Brady. "Americans heard encouraging words about more efficient government, but little in the way of specifics about spending priorities…

The Engine Of Unemployment

I guess this means we're still in a jobless recovery:The unemployment rate rose in 20 states last month as employers in most states shed jobs.

The Labor Department says the unemployment rate rose in 20 states and fell in 15. It was unchanged in another 15 states. That's nearly the same as in November, when the rate rose in 21 states, fell in 15 and was the same in 14.

The report is evidence that the job market is barely improving even as the economy grows. Most economists expect hiring to pick up this year, although the unemployment rate will likely remain high.

Employers in most states didn't add any net new jobs last month. The number of jobs on employer payrolls fell in 35 states in December, the department said. Only 15 states reported gains. Layoffs have slowed dramatically in the past year, but hiring has yet to pick up.The more "Change" comes, the more things seem to stay the same...

State Of The Boredom

Jennifer Rubin wasn't impressed with the speech:In a nutshell: Obama proposed a ton of new domestic spending, promised to freeze discretionary spending (attained by savaging defense), abstained from offering specifics on entitlement reform and largely ignored major foreign policy changes. Moreover, the delivery was so listless that this State of the Union address likely garnered less applause than any address in recent memory.

But the mystery is solved: There is no new Obama, just a less snarly one. But it was also a flat and boring speech, too long by a third. Can you recall a single line? After having watched as well, I also have to ask: Where was the emotion? There was little applause, the biggest laughs came for the smoked salmon line, and it was hard to tell the Democrats and Republicans alike from their lack of reaction. Is this what they meant by "The new tone?"

Rahmbo: First Run, Part II

He was out. Now he's back in:The Illinois Supreme Court will consider Rahm Emanuel's appeal.

Earlier today, the court granted Emanuel a partial stay, putting him back on the mayoral ballot. Now judges will hear his case.

There will be no oral arguments, only the same briefs as heard by the Illinois Appellate Court, sources say.

"It has never happened before," says Burt Odelson, attorney for Emanuel challengers. Odelson says he's done election law for 30 years and has never seen judges not take new briefs.

Ballots are being printed today, so today's court order granting Emanuel's partial stay came just in time.

According to the order, “Board of Election is directed that if any ballots are printed while this court is considering the case the ballots should include the name of petitioner Rahm Emanuel as a candidate for the mayor of City of Chicago."Dead voters everywhere in the Windy City are breathing sighs of relief...

Send In The Clown

It worked for Al Franken, so why not another comedian?Liberals want Keith Olbermann to run for retiring Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman's (I-Conn.) seat.

The ploy to coax the former MSNBC host into the Democratic Senate primary was hatched by activists attending a conference in Pennsylvania over the weekend.

Facebook and Twitter pages are already active and a website is expected to go up in the coming days.

"We’re using our full set of campaign tools but they won’t go active until we get a little downtime while we’re in D.C.," a blogger by the name of Stranded Wind wrote on the liberal website Daily Kos.

Olbermann left his show "Countdown" on Friday. He revealed over the weekend that he would return to his blog on MLB.com, Baseball Nerd, but has remained quiet about any other plans.Well, if they want another "Tool," he's available...

The Bucks End Here

I'm sure this will be spun by the Obama administration and the MSM as how those evil Republicans hate the people:House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) issued a new threat against a federal bailout for ailing state governments Monday as GOP leaders girded for a confrontation with President Obama over spending.

Heading into Tuesday’s State of the Union address, Cantor showed no desire for increases in virtually any area of the federal government, and he doubled down on his opposition to new proposed spending on infrastructure and education, even in areas, like transportation, where he acknowledged there were deficiencies.

Cantor flatly rejected any changes in the law that would allow state governments struggling with record budget deficits brought on by the economic recession and rising pension costs to restructure debt, including allowing them to declare bankruptcy.

“I don’t think that that is necessary, because state governments have at their disposal the requisite tools to a…

Lifestyles Of The Rich And Taxless

Taxes are for little people...or, maybe not:Actor Alec Baldwin has joined a list of elite New Yorkers targeted by tax collectors who think they're fibbing about where they really live to dodge New York City income taxes.

In recent years, auditors have confronted hundreds of super-wealthy New Yorkers over the residency rules - including star Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter.

Facing shrinking revenues, the state has ramped up its pursuit of suspected tax dodgers, hiring 189 new auditors and - for the first time - making filers swear under oath on tax forms as to how many days they "spend in New York City."

If it's more than 183 days and the filer has a residence in the city, the tax bill goes up.Of course, I'm sure Mr. Baldwin will be more than willing to pay his "Fair share..."

Slipping Through The Security Cracks

As Wired reports, terrorists know how to exploit them:Here’s how terrorists get past airport security: Don’t bother to go through it. According to preliminary reports, a suicide bomber — possibly two — killed at least 31 people and wounded about 130 more at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport on Monday, all without going through any kind of pat-down or scanner.

How? Russia’s Novosti news service cites eyewitnesses claiming “two terrorists blew themselves up as passengers emerged from the international arrivals zone.” If so, then they picked the softest target that airports have: a place where lots of people congregate, in anticipation of their loved ones’ arrival, without passing through machines to detect chemicals or metallic objects.
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If Novosti’s early account is correct, then the terrorists who carried out the Domodedovo attack have demonstrated that it’s not necessary to get an explosive on board an airplane to kill and injure lots of people and throw air travel into turmoil. That’…

Kill Switch, Volume Two

Here we go again:A controversial bill handing President Obama power over privately owned computer systems during a "national cyberemergency," and prohibiting any review by the court system, will return this year.

Internet companies should not be alarmed by the legislation, first introduced last summer by Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), a Senate aide said last week. Lieberman, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, is chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

"We're not trying to mandate any requirements for the entire Internet, the entire Internet backbone," said Brandon Milhorn, Republican staff director and counsel for the committee.

Instead, Milhorn said at a conference in Washington, D.C., the point of the proposal is to assert governmental control only over those "crucial components that form our nation's critical infrastructure."I'm sure there's nothing to worry…

Fannie And Freddie Thank You For Your Support

Guess who's still footing the bill for Fannie and Freddie's former bosses?Taxpayers have spent more than $160 million defending executives of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, infuriating lawmakers who want to know why taxpayers are footing the bill for heads of agencies that have already cost Americans at least $150 billion.

According to The New York Times, the bulk of those legal expenses -- $132 million -- went to pay for the defense of former top executives named in civil lawsuits accusing them of fraud and in various securities suits and government investigations into accounting irregularities that occurred years before the subprime lending crisis erupted.

Of the payments, $24 million went to defend former Fannie CEO Franklin Raines and two other executives.

Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas, chairman of the House Financial Services oversight subcommittee, told Fox News that he wants to know why the U.S. would defend executives who were fired from the lenders.

"The question …

Setting Up Shop

It looks like Iran will soon have its man in Lebanon:Former Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati, a billionaire Sunni businessman, was poised to take the lead of Lebanon's new government after winning the backing of a Hezbollah-led majority in parliament.

An independent bloc in the legislature said Monday it would support Mr. Mikati, a parliamentarian representing the northern city of Tripoli. The move delivered Hezbollah and its allies enough votes for a victory in an election scheduled to conclude on Tuesday, in what would be the final blow to the party of Saad Hariri, the U.S.-backed former prime minister.

Hezbollah drove the collapse of Mr. Hariri's government by leading the withdrawal of ministers from his cabinet nearly two weeks ago.

While the rules of Lebanon's political system will keep Hezbollah from taking control of the government, its apparent victory in the contest for the premiership showed it has enough allies to increasingly dictate policy.

The events Mond…

Waiving Reform Away

If you've got the cash, the Obama administration's got you covered:Three local chapters of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), whose political action committee spent $27 million supporting Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election, have received temporary waivers from a provision in the Obamacare law.

The three SEIU chapters include the Local 25 in Obama’s hometown of Chicago.

The waivers allow health insurance plans to limit how much they will spend on a policy holder’s medical coverage for a given year. Under the new health care law, however, such annual limits are phased out by the year 2014. (Under HHS regulations, annual limits can be no less than $750,000 for 2011, no less than $1.25 million in 2012 and no less than $2 million in 2013.)
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So far, the Obama administration has issued waivers to 222 entities, including businesses, unions and charitable organizations. Of that total, 45 were labor organizations.

A total of 1,507,418 enrollees are now inc…

Rahmbo Interrupted

Rahm Emanuel can't run:Rahm Emanuel, who left Chicago to join the Obama administration as White House chief of staff, should not appear on the Feb. 22 mayoral ballot in the city because he does not meet the residency standard, according to a ruling issued by a state appellate court Monday.

Emanuel told a news conference he would appeal the decision to the Illinois Supreme Court and would ask for an injunction so his name would appear on the mayoral ballot.

"I have no doubt at the end we'll prevail in this effort," Emanuel said. "We'll now go to the next level to get clarity."

Emanuel, a former congressman, has been the front-running candidate in the race to succeed retiring Mayor Richard Daley. The latest poll by the Chicago Tribune showed Emanuel at 44%, more than double his closest rival, former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun.

In a 2-1 ruling Monday, the appellate panel said Emanuel does not meet the residency requirement of having lived in Chicago for…

The Global Food Balloon

Is it getting ready to burst?Inflation fears—fueled by spiraling food, oil and raw material prices—are mounting around the globe, prompting the head of the European Central Bank to signal that it could raise interest rates in the future even though some countries have been weakened by the Continent's debt crisis.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal ahead of this week's annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Jean-Claude Trichet warned that inflation pressures in the euro zone must be watched closely, and urged central bankers everywhere to ensure that higher energy and food prices don't gain a foothold in the global economy.

Mr. Trichet's warning comes at a time when inflation concerns are mounting among investors around the world. Fast-growing emerging markets such as China and Brazil are seeing rising inflation at home, and their demand for globally traded commodities is pushing prices higher elsewhere.Runaway inflation contributed…

Bloggin' In The Years: 1981

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After more than a year in captivity, the hostages return to freedom:

Fit To The End

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The healthiest man in the world, gone:Jack LaLanne, whose obsession with grueling workouts and good nutrition, complemented by a salesman’s gift, brought him recognition as the founder of the modern physical fitness movement, died Sunday afternoon at his home in Morro Bay, Calif. He was 96.

The cause was respiratory failure resulting from pneumonia, said his son Dan Doyle.

A self-described emotional and physical wreck while growing up in the San Francisco area, Mr. LaLanne began turning his life around, as he often told it, after hearing a talk on proper diet when he was 15.

He started working out with weights when they were an oddity, and in 1936 he opened the prototype for the fitness spas to come — a gym, juice bar and health food store — in an old office building in Oakland.

“People thought I was a charlatan and a nut,” he remembered. “The doctors were against me — they said that working out with weights would give people heart attacks and they would lose their sex drive.” But …

Back Scratchers

The real reason Democrats don't like budget cuts? They cost them support:The federal employee unions gave nearly $5 million to Democratic House and Senate candidates between 2001 and the 2010 campaign, according to data cited by MAPLight from the Center for Responsive Politics compared to just over $1 million to Republicans.

In other words, Democrats got 82 percent of the campaign cash contributed by federal employee unions.
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The two ways to look at these facts? The conventional wisdom focuses on the fact the GOP is proposing spending cuts that will have a negative impact on federal employees, who deliver vital services like Social Security checks.

That approach typically ignores any evidence that even with a 15 percent reduction in the 2.0-million-plus federal civil service, the Social Security checks would continue to be delivered on time, and the federal government could continue providing all of the essential services it does at current workforce levels.

But there's an…

Bloggin' In The Years: 1824

I have been privelaged to have received a transcript of the following quote by former President Jefferson:Men by their constitutions are naturally divided into two parties: 1. Those who fear and distrust the people, and wish to draw all powers from them into the hands of the higher classes. 2. Those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the most honest and safe, although not the most wise depositary of the public interests. In every country these two parties exist, and in every one where they are free to think, speak, and write, they will declare themselves. Call them, therefore, Liberals and Serviles, Jacobins and Ultras, Whigs and Tories, Republicans and Federalists, Aristocrats and Democrats, or by whatever name you please, they are the same parties still and pursue the same object.And yet, we still have a Republic, imperfect as it is. But Republics only last so long as those that claim to respect the rights of both the Arist…

Ghost Workers

Why jobs that were supposed to be created weren't:The years between the brief 2001 recession and the 2008 financial collapse gave us solid growth in our gross national product, soaring corporate profits, and a low unemployment rate—but job creation lagged stubbornly behind, more so than in any economic expansion since World War II.

The Great Recession wiped out what amounts to every U.S. job created in the 21st century. But even if the recession had never happened, if the economy had simply treaded water, the United States would have entered 2010 with 15 million fewer jobs than economists say it should have.

Somehow, rapid advancements in technology and the opening of new international markets paid dividends for American companies but not for American workers. An economy that long thrived on its dynamism, shedding jobs in outdated and less competitive industries and adding them in innovative new fields, fell stagnant in the swirls of the most globalized decade of commerce in human…

Odd Todd

Well, this isn't good news for Palin's presidential prospects (if any):The National Enquirer is running a thinly-sourced report claiming that Todd Palin, husband of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, has been busted in a sex scandal involving a massage therapist -- and supposedly a former prostitution ringleader -- who he was allegedly romantically involved with.

From The Enquirer:

Political bloggers are digging into incredible claims that the "First Dude" - father of the couple's five children - cheated on his wife with a female massage therapist who was busted for prostitution!
Todd Palin's spokespeople have, of course, denied the allegations, but The Enquirer now claims that there are "official documents" and "physical evidence" concerning the connection between the "First Dude" and Shailey Tripp, an Alaska woman who was once arrested on prostitution charges stemming from a Craigslist "massage" service.

"According…

Mad Ad Men

Becaue they know what's important:The U.N. health agency says world leaders will discuss efforts to clamp down on junk food marketing to children when they meet in New York on Sept 19-20.

The World Health Organization says heads of state will use the U.N. General Assembly meeting to talk about limiting the number and type of ads that children are exposed to.

WHO says 43 million preschool children around the world are overweight or obese. Experts talk of a "fat tsunami" that is already causing millions of premature deaths each year.

Bjorn-Inge Larsen of the Norwegian Directorate of Health told reporters Friday that he expects voluntary measures limiting junk food advertising to eventually evolve into laws banning the practice in the same way that has occurred with tobacco.I guess it's official: candy bars are the new cigarettes. Which will make them even more popular as contraband among the kids...

The New Jobs Boss

Needless to say, Obama's choice for top economics advisor is fraught with contradictions:Mr. Immelt's closeness to the Democratic administration is a departure from GE's heritage as a conservative company whose past leaders helped school Ronald Reagan in small-government conservatism—a heritage Mr. Immelt and GE celebrated over the past year in honor of the centennial of Mr. Reagan's birth.

Mr. Immelt didn't contribute to Mr. Obama's presidential run, according to campaign records. But he declared against the backdrop of the economic crisis and the upheaval of the 2008 election: "We are all Democrats now."

Under Mr. Immelt, GE chased government stimulus spending in the U.S. and globally, in part to counter the troubles at its finance unit. GE lobbyists and Mr. Immelt pushed hard for tens of billions of dollars in green-energy projects contained in the $787 billion stimulus bill Mr. Obama signed in early 2009.

GE's own job-creation record has been …

Olbermann, Over And Out

He's gone:Keith Olbermann, the highest-rated host on MSNBC, announced abruptly on the air Friday night that he is leaving “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” immediately.

The host, who has had a stormy relationship with the management of the network for some time, especially since he was suspended for two days last November, came to an agreement with NBC’s corporate management late this week to settle his contract and step down.

In a closing statement on his show, Mr. Olbermann said simply that it would be the last edition of the program. He offered no explanation other than on occasion, the show had become too much for him.

Mr. Olbermann thanked his viewers for their enthusiastic support of a show that had “gradually established its position as anti-establishment.”

In a statement, MSNBC said : “MSNBC and Keith Olbermann have ended their contract. The last broadcast of ‘Countdown with Keith Olbermann’ will be this evening. MSNBC thanks Keith for his integral role in MSNBC’s success a…

The Powers Behind The Throne

Democrats need to ditch the unions:If the Democrats want to be competitive in 2012, they must move decisively back to the center. And unless they're able to break the stranglehold that government-employee unions have on the party on policy, as well as in financial and political support, it will be virtually impossible for Democrats to restore fiscal health to states like New York and California.

Working-class families are fleeing the Democratic Party en masse, a trend that is likely to continue if their own economic situation remains weak in the face of ever-higher taxes, deficits and debt. These working-class voters see that public employees are continuing to receive more generous benefits and enjoy greater job security than they are. Support for the Democratic Party is now well below 40% with working-class voters who are unionized, and as low as 33% with whites who are not college educated.

By providing Democratic candidates the bulk of their campaign funding, public unions have…

Where Have All The Protesters Gone?

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Reason TV wants to know:



It does seem that protest is only hip when a Republican is in office...

States Versus The State

The opposition to Obamacare keeps growing:Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas, Wyoming and Maine won permission to join a Florida lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s health-care reform legislation.

U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson in Pensacola, Florida, yesterday granted the states’ motion for permission to be added to the lawsuit filed last year by then-Florida Attorney General Bill McCollom, bringing the total of plaintiff states to 26.

“The addition of six new states to our bipartisan legal challenge reflects broad, nationwide concern about the constitutionality of this sweeping and unprecedented federal legislation,” Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said in a press statement.With state budgets nearing the breaking point, many states are now realizing just how much mandatory health care will cost them. And their opposition could cost Obama more than he bargained for.

Kind Words And A Gun

How the 2nd amendment protected civil rights workers:Many civil rights activists—including those who publicly engaged in non-violent forms of resistance—kept guns for self-defense. T.R.M. Howard, the Mississippi doctor and mutual aid leader who founded the pioneering Regional Council of Negro Leadership, slept with a Thompson submachine gun at the foot of his bed. During the murder trial that followed the horrific lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till, Howard escorted Till’s grieving mother and various others to and from the courthouse in a heavily-armed caravan.

Similarly, John R. Salter, one of the organizers of the famous 1963 sit-ins against segregated lunch counters in Jackson, Mississippi, said he always “traveled armed” while working as a civil rights organizer in the South. “I’m alive today because of the Second Amendment and the natural right to keep and bear arms,” Salter said.Of course, today's white liberals would claim they know best how to protect African American acti…

Canadian Cajones

Canada still has some:The Harper government sent a diplomatic note to Iran Wednesday, as Heritage Minister James Moore lashed out at Tehran for its part in a campaign that cancelled the screening of a movie critical of the Iranian regime at Library and Archives Canada.

On Wednesday morning, the Minister instructed Library and Archives Canada to show Iranium, a documentary critiquing Iran’s nuclear program, after it cowed to numerous threats of protest and an official request from the Iranian embassy in Canada to not present the film Tuesday night, as scheduled.

In its diplomatic note to Tehran, the government said Canada is a free country and that freedom of expression is a core value that won’t be compromised.

“This movie will be shown, the agreement will be kept and this movie Iranium will be shown at Library and Archives Canada. We will not be moving it to a different facility, we’re not bending to any pressure,” said Mr. Moore on the CBC’s Power and Politics.

“People need to be…

Higher Educashun

College really does seem to be a slacker's paradise, after all:Nearly half of the nation's undergraduates show almost no gains in learning in their first two years of college, in large part because colleges don't make academics a priority, a new report shows.

Instructors tend to be more focused on their own faculty research than teaching younger students, who in turn are more tuned in to their social lives, according to the report, based on a book titled Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses. Findings are based on transcripts and surveys of more than 3,000 full-time traditional-age students on 29 campuses nationwide, along with their results on the Collegiate Learning Assessment, a standardized test that gauges students' critical thinking, analytic reasoning and writing skills.

After two years in college, 45% of students showed no significant gains in learning; after four years, 36% showed little change.

Students also spent 50% less time studying co…

Born In The U.S.A. (Honest)

Oh, good:Officials in Hawaii have tracked down papers indicating that President Obama was indeed born in their state, according to its new governor.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who took office in December, told Honolulu's Star-Advertiser on Tuesday that "our investigation" indicates there is a recording of his birth.

"It actually exists in the archives, written down," he said.

The new Democratic head of the state vowed when he took office that he would do his best to end the debate over Obama's birth, which began in 2008 during the presidential campaign.

"We'll do what we can as quickly as we can to make it inevitable that only those who wish the President ill, only the ones with a political agenda, will be the ones doing this kind of thing," Abercrombie told CNN in December. "The President is entitled to the respect of his office and he's entitled to have his mother and father respected."

During that interview, Abercrombie said his g…

The Error Of Their Ways

Surprise, surprise:A climate change study that projected a 2.4 degree Celsius increase in temperature and massive worldwide food shortages in the next decade was seriously flawed, scientists said Wednesday.

The study was posted on the website of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and was written about by numerous international news agencies, including AFP.

But AAAS later retracted the study as experts cited numerous errors in its approach.

"A reporter with The Guardian alerted us yesterday to concerns about the news release submitted by Hoffman & Hoffman public relations," said AAAS spokeswoman Ginger Pinholster in an email to AFP.

"We immediately contacted a climate change expert, who confirmed that the information raised many questions in his mind, too. We swiftly removed the news release from our Web site and contacted the submitting organization."

Scientist Osvaldo Canziani, who was part of the 2007 Nobel Prize winning Intergovernmental…

Liars And Damned Liars

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Well, the "new civility" didn't last long:



And now, in the aftermath, Mr. Cohen isn't sorry:"I didn't see anything wrong with it. Goebbels was the great propagandist of probably the 20th century, and his whole theory was if you tell the lie over and over again people will believe it," Cohen told CNN.

Still, Cohen said he didn't believe he was comparing Republicans to Nazis.

"I wasn't trying to say, never would say, haven't said and wouldn't say that the Republicans are akin to the party that he [Goebbels] was a part of, but they [Republicans] did lie and they've said the lie over and over again," Cohen said.

"The fact is that the government takeover of health care is a lie," he said.

"I don't think I was comparing the Republicans to Goebbels. I was saying that lies are lies and Goebbels was the great perpetrator of lies and that's a danger, and if you look at Goebbels you can see the lie that he told …

Change We Can Believe In

The House Republicans have delivered:The House voted on Wednesday to repeal the sweeping healthcare law enacted last year, as Republicans made good on a central campaign pledge and laid down the first major policy marker of their new majority.

The party-line vote was 245-189, as three Democrats joined all 242 Republicans in supporting repeal.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the healthcare law on the books would increase spending, raise taxes and eliminate jobs.

“Repeal means paving the way for better solutions that will lower the costs without destroying jobs or bankrupting our government," Boehner said in remarks on the floor before the vote.

“Let’s stop payment on this check before it can destroy more jobs or put us into a deeper hole.”And now, on to the Senate. We'll see how things go from here, but so far it looks promising.

The Ex-Governator

Arnold Schwarzenegger, on the importance of his own importance:In a recent sit-down the former governor granted to the Austrian newspaper Krone, Schwarzenegger estimates that his seven years as governor cost him about $200 million – $70 million of that in lost movie roles.

Schwarzenegger also laments the fact that Hollywood salaries have dropped since he left the business.

He said his abysmal popularity rankings were “just a snapshot” and that “they would have rocketed to the top” had he not been forced out of office by term limits.
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He acknowledged the sorry state of the California’s budget, and his approval ratings that had plummeted to below those of Gray Davis, whom he unseated in a recall election.

Schwarzenegger said if he’d known how hard California would be hit by the recession, he would have started cutting state spending much earlier.Well, it's nice to know being governor didn't affect his ego...

The Last Rock Concert

Don Kirshner is gone:Don Kirshner, the music publisher of Brill Building hits like “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” and “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin,’ ” who later served as a deadpan Ed Sullivan for Kiss, the Ramones and others with his 1970s television show, “Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert,” died on Monday in Boca Raton, Fla., where he lived. He was 76.

The cause was heart failure, his family said.

The Brill Building age of pop, named after the Manhattan building where many of its songwriters labored, lasted from the mid-1950s to the mid-’60s and is celebrated for the people behind its innocently aching music: producers like Phil Spector, writing teams like Carole King and Gerry Goffin (“The Loco-Motion”).

But the guiding force behind many of those people was Mr. Kirshner, whose hustle, hit-trained ear and good timing helped shape pop in the days when Tin Pan Alley’s song-craft traditions were being mingled with the rhythms of rock.

As a pioneering musical matchmaker, Mr. Kirshner disc…

Bloggin' In The Years: 1998

Matt Drudge may have just gotten the scoop of his career:The DRUDGE REPORT has learned that reporter Michael Isikoff developed the story of his career, only to have it spiked by top NEWSWEEK suits hours before publication. A young woman, 23, sexually involved with the love of her life, the President of the United States, since she was a 21-year-old intern at the White House. She was a frequent visitor to a small study just off the Oval Office where she claims to have indulged the president's sexual preference. Reports of the relationship spread in White House quarters and she was moved to a job at the Pentagon, where she worked until last month.

The young intern wrote long love letters to President Clinton, which she delivered through a delivery service. She was a frequent visitor at the White House after midnight, where she checked in the WAVE logs as visiting a secretary named Betty Curry, 57.

The DRUDGE REPORT has learned that tapes of intimate phone conversations exist.

The…

Generous Hypocrisy

Via Althouse, Andrew Sullivan promises to be nicer to Sarah Palin:...there is no conceivable way in which, in my judgment, her presence on the national stage can improve our discourse, help solve our problems or improve public life. But that does not forbid one from noting the great example she has shown in rearing a child with Down Syndrome, whatever his provenance, or noting her effectiveness as a demagogue, or from admiring her father's genuineness or her skill in exploiting new media. I've consistently tried to do this without undercutting my still-raw amazement that an advanced democratic society could even contemplate putting such an unstable and irresponsible person in a position of any real power.

Generous anger: a classically Orwellian term. Because it is a new phrase, a fresh idea, and yet instantly understandable. And necessary.So, will he be more or less generous when spinning conspiracy theories about her kids?

The Price Of Sleaze

John Edwards is in trouble:A federal grand jury meeting in Raleigh, N.C., is combing through records and testimony involving several political organizations and individuals connected to Edwards and trying to determine if the former North Carolina senator and 2004 vice presidential nominee broke any laws. A recently issued subpoena focuses on a web of these political groups allied with Edwards, according to subpoena details provided to AP that offer a glimpse into the investigation being conducted behind closed doors.

The case largely stems from money spent to keep Edwards' mistress, Rielle Hunter, in hiding along with former campaign aide Andrew Young, who initially claimed paternity so Edwards could continue pursuing the White House without the taint of the affair.

Investigators are looking chiefly at whether funds paid to Hunter and Young — from outside political groups and Edwards' political donors — should have been considered campaign donations since they arguably aided h…

The Chinese Way

A NASA scientist is upset that democracy got in the way of the climate-change crusade:According to Mr. Hansen, compared to China, we are "the barbarians" with a "fossil-money- 'democracy' that now rules the roost," making it impossible to legislate effectively on climate change. Unlike us, the Chinese are enlightened, unfettered by pesky elections. Here's what he blogged on Nov. 24:

"I have the impression that Chinese leadership takes a long view, perhaps because of the long history of their culture, in contrast to the West with its short election cycles. At the same time, China has the capacity to implement policy decisions rapidly. The leaders seem to seek the best technical information and do not brand as a hoax that which is inconvenient."

Has this guy ever heard of the Gang of Four? Or the Cultural Revolution, which killed those who were inconvenient? Or the Great Leap Forward, which used the best technical information to determine that a…

"Don't Hate Me Because I'm Smart"

As if attractive snobs needed another reason to feel superior:A study in England conducted by researchers at the London School of Economics found that attractive men and women generally have higher IQs.

"Physical attractiveness is significantly positively associated with general intelligence," said LSE lead researcher Satoshi Kanazawa, in the latest issue of the journal Intelligence.

The study indicated attractive men have IQs that are 13.6 points above the average, while beautiful women are 11.4 points higher than average.

Since intelligent men are more inclined to achieve more success, they are "more likely to marry beautiful women," Kanazawa said. "Given that both intelligence and physical attractiveness are highly heritable, there should be a positive correlation between intelligence and physical attractiveness in the children's generation."

The study included 52,000 people from both the United Kingdom and United States.

However, Kanazawa insists …

The Forgotten Class

The Peoples' Republic seems to be increasingly at odds with the people:China has 20% of the world’s population, but just 6% of the farmable land. If the central government begins to implement price controls, shortages are inevitable. A recent reported from World Economic Forum warned that shortages could “cause social and political instability, geopolitical conflict, and irreparable environmental damage.” The central government seems to have few options to control food inflation without causing a major disruption in the rest of the economy.

Chinese soldiers and their families are mostly from rural China, the majority of whom have not benefited from China’s rising economy, with 600 million still earning less than $6 a day. Indeed, in many aspects, quality of life has deteriorated for those without connections, a prerequisite for wealth in the eyes of most Chinese according to polls. Many do not view competition for material goods as healthy, pollution and waste have worsened expone…

Rare Praise

Oh, my. Dick Cheney offers some praise for Obama:In his first interview since undergoing major heart surgery last July, Cheney said he thinks Obama has been forced to rethink some of his national security positions now that he sits in the Oval Office.

"I think he's learned that what we did was far more appropriate than he ever gave us credit for while he was a candidate. So I think he's learned from experience. And part of that experience was the Democrats having a terrible showing last election."

Cheney also asserted that Obama has learned that the prison at Guantanamo Bay simply cannot be closed, despite the promises he made while campaigning for the White House.

"I think he's learned that he's not going to be able to close Guantanamo," Cheney said. "That it's — if you didn't have it, you'd have to create one like that. You've got to have some place to put terrorists who are combatants who are bound and determined to try to ki…

Al Qaida And Their Forty Thieves

Things are tough all over:Followers of one of the fastest-growing radical Muslim terror groups are being told to steal, embezzle and seize property – especially from Americans – in order to finance their jihad.

While Muslim teaching generally forbids theft, the new edition of Inspire magazine -- launched by the group behind the air cargo printer bombs in October, the underwear bomb plot in December 2009 and the most recent pre-Christmas alert -- is now telling followers that such crimes are justifiable, especially if the U.S. government and U.S. citizens are targets.

In the fourth edition of the magazine, launched by Al Qaeda in Yemen in July, American-born radical cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki encourages his disciples to fund more attacks through crime. The Middle East Media Research Institute provided Fox News with its copy of the magazine.

“In an attempt to deal with the cash-shortage jihadist groups are facing, Al-Awlaki gives religious justification to any actions used by jihadists to o…

Brother, Can You Spare A Bond?

How the bond market essentially became a long con:As it turned out, the housing-bond market was a Ponzi scheme not all that different than what Bernie Madoff pulled off for so long. Eventually, the cash couldn't flow in fast enough to keep inflating the bubble. Once the folks who couldn't afford their mortgages could no longer flip out of the market, the whole thing burst.

The municipal-bond market's assumption is that cities and states won't default on their debt because they need to keep selling bonds to build roads and bridges. Investors will keep buying munis because they think the state will always make good on its obligations (and with the added incentive that these bonds are free of state, local and federal taxes).

But suppose taxes are so high that people leave cities or states in droves, depleting the pool of revenue need to pay bondholders? Suppose these states have so many other obligations -- from federal mandates, massive "guaranteed" pensions …

Health Care Heresy

David Cameron proposes the unthinkable:Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday waded into terrain where past British governments have foundered, promising fundamental changes to the country's expensive and over-stressed public health care system.

Cameron said the reforms would cut red tape and improve treatment, but critics claim they will cause chaos and could lead to backdoor privatization of the much-criticized but widely popular National Health Service.

The British leader, whose Conservative Party heads the country's coalition government, said he would save money and cut red tape by giving control over management to family practitioners rather than bureaucrats, and allow private companies, charities and social enterprises to bid for contracts within the public health service.

Making health care more efficient has proved an elusive goal for successive British governments. The previous Labour administration vowed to reduce waiting times for treatment, and succeeded — but at t…

Falling Behind

When it comes to our economy, at least we're better off than...oh, wait:Ben Bernanke and his allies on the FOMC expect the unemployment rate to still be close to 8% two years from now. At this rate of improvement, it could take four to five more years for the job market to normalize fully.

Still, while aware of just how tough the jobs picture looks, many tried-and-true Yankees might assume that countries around the world suffer with unemployment rates just as elevated as ours.

Not true.

As our buddies at Bespoke point out, the reality is that the US ranks pretty poorly compared to the rest of the world.

“The Eurozone is at similar levels to the US, but when most of the countries that have a higher unemployment rate than the US are collectively referred to as PIGS, it's not very encouraging,” Bespoke emphasizes.And our "discourse" doesn't seem to be much better, either...

Bite Me

Don Surber on the sudden call for "Discourse":Last week, the left quickly blamed the right for the national tragedy of a shooting spree by a madman who never watched Fox News, never listened to Rush Limbaugh and likely did not know who Sarah Palin is.

Fortunately, the American public rejected out of hand that idiotic notion that the right was responsible.

Rather than apologize, the left wants to change the tone of the political debate.

The left suddenly wants civil discourse.

Bite me.

The left wants to play games of semantics.

Bite me.

The left wants us to be civil — after being so uncivil for a decade.

Bite me.
....

So screw you and your civil discourse.

I don’t want to hear it.

I have been screamed at for 10 years.

It’s my turn now. I am not going to scream back. But I refuse to allow anyone to dictate what I say or how I say it. I refuse to allow the same foul-mouthed, foul-spirited foul people who dumped on me to now try to tell me what I may or may not say.

My free spee…

Haitian Homecoming

How bad are things in Haiti? Baby Doc is back:Haiti’s exiled former dictator, Jean-Claude Duvalier, returned unexpectedly to his homeland Sunday for the first time since he was deposed in a coup in 1986.

Although the reason was not immediately clear, his return, reported by news agencies and radio stations in Haiti, appeared to take the Haitian government completely by surprise.

He returned as Haiti remains in a political crisis over a disputed election last fall and the country continues to recover from a devastating earthquake a year ago last week.

Mr. Duvalier, known as “Baby Doc,” had ruled Haiti after the 1971 death of his father, the authoritarian Fran├žois Duvalier, known as “Papa Doc.” The son had been living in France in exile.

Reuters reported that he was met at the airport in Port-au-Prince by enthusiastic supporters.He then took one look around, and immediately went back to France.

Turkey Call

The Turkish Prime Minister puts the sick man that is now Europe on notice:The financial crisis has laid bare Europe’s need for greater dynamism and change: European labor markets and social-security systems are comatose. European economies are stagnant. European societies are near geriatric. Can Europe retain power and credibility in the new world order without addressing these issues?

Meanwhile, as a candidate for EU membership, Turkey has been putting its imprint on the global stage with its impressive economic development and political stability. The Turkish economy is Europe’s fastest-growing sizable economy and will continue to be so in 2011. According to Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development forecasts, Turkey will be the second-largest economy in Europe by 2050. Turkey is a market where foreign direct investment can get emerging-market returns at a developed-market risk. Turkey is bursting with the vigor that the EU so badly needs.He has a point. Europe needs new…

Things That Aren't So

How dumb was the media's lust for blood in Arizona? So much so that Time Magazine said this:Those who say right-wing rhetoric was the one factor tipping Loughner misunderstand the complex nature of psychosis. "No single variable explains violence in schizophrenia," write Swanson and eight colleagues in a 2006 paper published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. "Rather, violent behavior occurs within a social-ecological system involving a 'whole person' with a particular life history and state of health." In short, saying Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck caused Loughner's actions is, to put it charitably, completely idiotic.And the New York Times said this:Within hours of the shooting, there was a full-fledged witch hunt to link the shooter to the right.

“I saw Goody Proctor with the devil! Oh, I mean Jared Lee Loughner! Yes him. With the devil!”

The only problem is that there was no evidence then, and even now, that overheated rhetoric from the right …

The Other Side Of Anger

In an ironic twist, a victim is revealed to be another unbalanced individual:Merely a week after a crazed gunman shot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in the head and left several others dead and wounded at a local political event, a Tea Party spokesman in the same area received a public death threat at a town hall meeting– from one of Jared Loughner’s victims.

Local station KGUN is reporting that Eric Fuller a 63-year-old military veteran who was shot in the back last Saturday while attending Rep. Giffords’ “Congress on Your Corner” event, became enraged by the statements of some of the participants at the town hall events and threatened the life of Tea Party spokesman Trent Humphries.
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Fuller is being charged with threats, intimidation, and disorderly conduct according to authorities. He has been profiled by CBS and has publicly blamed Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, and Sharron Angle for inciting the violence that caused the events of last Saturday. The town hall meeting is scheduled…