Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, more than 1,200 companies have been accorded waivers from the healthcare reform law, the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) disclosed Friday, the final day that the agency is required to report the data. "Friday marks the last time HHS will have to update the total number of waivers, putting to rest a recurring political firestorm," writes Sam Baker of The Hill. "The department had been updating its waiver totals every month, prompting monthly attacks from the GOP." Indeed, not only has the number of waivers granted by the department stirred a hailstorm of controversy, but it has also displayed an incontrovertible pattern of crony capitalism, as the law openly leans on the side of labor unions, who just so happen to be strong Democratic supporters who wield tremendous political influence. Ever since the administration strapped a tighter leash on application rules, the unionized sector has remained a prominent beneficiary of ObamaCare waivers.
In what pro-family groups are calling the most important broadcast indecency case in over three decades, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments January 10 on the extent to which the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has the authority to implement rules concerning what is permissible on television, and to fine networks which push the boundaries. If the High Court rules against the tighter controls, as networks hope, nudity, immoral sexual content, and profanity will overwhelm the airwaves, the conservative watchdog groups warn. At issue in the case, reported CNN, is whether or not the FCC “may constitutionally enforce its policies on ‘fleeting expletives’ and scenes of nudity on television programs, both live and scripted.” In the past the FCC has handed out hefty penalties to broadcasters for decency infractions. Among the more notorious examples of on-air indecency which the federal agency has targeted is the now-legendary incident during the 2004 Super Bowl half-time show in which Janet Jackson “accidentally” exposed herself. Also cited are a 2003 episode of the police drama NYPD blue which included a scene with a naked woman; a pair of Fox-network-sponsored Billboard Music Awards shows in 2002 and 2003 during which producers failed to censor profanity uttered by singers Cher and Nicole Richie; and the 2003 televised Golden Globes awards show during which singer Bono dropped the “F-bomb” while giving an acceptance speech.
On Saturday, the Ron Paul campaign issued a statement announcing the naming of several new members of the “Homeschoolers for Ron Paul” coalition.  The formation of the group was originally announced in August and since then has been very successful in motivating homeschool advocates to rally to Dr. Paul’s campaign for the White House.    
When Barnes & Noble announced its awful earnings per share losses on Thursday, it didn’t help any that its losses were so much worse than the company had projected just a month earlier. In October, Barnes & Noble estimated losses for its fiscal year at between 30 and 70 cents per share. Its latest numbers, revised downward to between $1.10 and $1.40, shook investors who pushed shares to $11, down from $17 in early November. The one critical number which investors look at primarily, called EBITDA — earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization — fell from $281 million last year to $163 million this year, a decline of more than 40 percent. It’s easy to say that technological change and market preferences are pushing Barnes & Noble to the edge of bankruptcy, but its position is vastly different from that of its former competitor, Borders, which disappeared in September. What’s more accurate is to say that Barnes & Noble saw the change coming but waited before responding to it. Succeeding brilliantly in the 1990s by providing a vast array of discounted books, games, and accessories, it innovated by opening Starbucks cafes in its stores and providing its customers with comfortable chairs and couches in informal reading areas. In 1998, it anticipated the change from print to digital and purchased NuvoMedia, the maker of the Rocket eBook reader. But in 2003 it exited the digital business, concluding that there was no profit in it.
On January 3, President Barack Obama signed into law legislation imposing sanctions on Belarus. The Belarus Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2011 was passed by Congress in December in response to a litany of alleged human rights abuses on the part of the former Soviet Republic. The text of the act enumerates several causes of the congressional effort to punish Belarus: The Government of Belarus has engaged in a pattern of clear and uncorrected violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The Government of Belarus has engaged in a pattern of clear and uncorrected violations of basic principles of democratic governance, including through a series of fundamentally flawed presidential and parliamentary elections undermining the legitimacy of executive and legislative authority in that country. The Government of Belarus has subjected thousands of pro-democratic political activists to harassment, beatings, and jailings, particularly as a result of their attempts to peacefully exercise their right to freedom of assembly and association.
The Obama administration may have revealed classified information related to the killing of Osama bin Laden to a group in Hollywood planning to make a film about the event.  On Thursday, Representative Peter King (R-N.Y.) stated that the Department of Defense was initiating an investigation into whether Mark Boal and Kathryn Bigelow (the team behind the 2008 war film The Hurt Locker) were provided “improper access” to unreleased intelligence about the hunt for and assassination of the former head of al-Qaeda by members of the American special operations forces that took place in Pakistan in May of 2011.  
According to the latest census, there are fewer than 2,000 people living in Morrison, Wisconsin. There are at least 10 times that many cows. A drive along any one of the country roads criss-crossing rural Brown County reveals one after the other of the area's many family-owned dairy farms (mega farms are still the minority). In fact, Brown County, home to Morrison, is one of America’s largest dairy-producing regions. Such pleasant landscapes are common to most of the surrounding communities dotting this rolling prairie of bucolic midwestern hamlets that are home to the salt of the earth.   Hidden from sight, however, is the petty tyranny of the Morrison Town Board and its egregious agenda of quashing the freedom of speech. This ham-fisted oligarchy is threatening to stain the idyllic tapestry woven by generations of good, law-abiding citizens and muzzle their ability to have a say in the making of the laws that govern them.   So constitutionally offensive are the recent policy positions taken by the Town Board, there is a distinct possibility that legal challenges could bring down serious repercussions upon some member of that council.
Republican presidential candidates came out verbally swinging at each other on so-called "attack ads" in a debate on NBC January 8, just days before the New Hampshire primary. The discussion of "attack ads" that examine the records of political opponents focused upon campaign advertisements and so-called "SuperPac" independent expenditures. Both the official Ron Paul campaign and an independent, pro-Mitt Romney SuperPac, Restore Our Future, spent millions each in the attack on Gingrich in Iowa. The Atlantic magazine credited Restore Our Future with handing Romney the Iowa victory. "The Iowa caucuses, more than any single contest in 2010, will mark the arrival of the super PAC as a potent, and likely lasting, political weapon. Restore Our Future, the super PAC that has run millions of dollars in television advertisements on Romney's behalf, deserves an Oscar for the role it played in Iowa." In the January 8 NBC debate, moderator David Gregory asked Gingrich if he had changed his position on "negative" advertisements after being hit by about $5 million in advertisements in Iowa highlighting his record:
Who is responsible for a YouTube video that paints Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman as “The Manchurian Candidate”? On the basis of rather scant evidence, Huntsman was quick to finger supporters of rival candidate Ron Paul. Since then, however, further evidence has called Huntsman’s rush to judgment into serious question, with some observers even suggesting that Huntsman himself — or his daughters, who have been involved in some rather odd videos before — may have uploaded the thing in an effort to garner sympathy and, in turn, votes. The whole flap began on January 4, when, as the End Run blog put it, “a ridiculous, pathetic joke of a video” entitled “Jon Huntsman’s Values” was posted on YouTube. The amateurish production, which questions whether the candidate’s values are American or Chinese, shows photos of Huntsman in China and clips of him speaking Chinese (both only natural given that he was once U.S. Ambassador to China), images of him with his adopted Chinese and Indian daughters (with the caption “China Jon’s Daughters/Even Adopted?” — whatever that is supposed to mean), and a still picture with Huntsman’s face superimposed over Mao Zedong’s. It concludes with the words “American Values and Liberty/Vote Ron Paul.”
Texas Congressman Ron Paul slammed former House Speaker Newt Gingrich as a "chickenhawk" in the ABC News/WMUR debate January 7, one of two final debates before the New Hampshire primary January 10. WMUR's Josh McElveen remarked to Gingrich, "Recently, Dr. Paul referred to you as a chickenhawk because you didn’t serve." A chickenhawk is a politician who is gung-ho for war, but avoids military service for himself. In essence, a chickenhawk is someone who is brave only with the lives of someone else's sons. The comment led co-moderator Diane Sawyer to ask Rep. Paul:  "Congressman Paul, would you say that again? Would you — would you use that phrase again? Paul replied: Yeah. I think people who don’t serve when they could and they get three or four or even five deferments aren’t — they — they have no right to send our kids off to war, and not be even against the wars that we have. I’m trying to stop the wars, but at least, you know, I went when they called me up.  
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