It was reported in Tuesday’s Washington Times, among other places, that surveillance technology has taken yet another turn, this time bringing military-grade, high-tech surveillance tools originally intended for intelligence-gathering to the marketplace, enabling even relatively unsophisticated users to snoop on friends, neighbors, significant-others — and political opponents.  
Christmas time approaches, the season for giving, the season when people’s inclination toward charitable acts and other good works reaches its apogee. Preparations for the holiday are well under way, and at shopping centers and street corners everywhere, one sees those red kettles, a veritable symbol of the season, almost as ubiquitous as Christmas trees, holly, and colored lights. Christmas engenders a unique spirit in our hearts. As the great American author and essayist Washington Irving said, “Christmas is a season for kindling the fire for hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.” Americans are renown for their charitable giving. They support a vast network of charitable organizations, having given $290.89 billion in 2010. Additionally, 63.4 million Americans have practiced another form of charity by volunteering 8.1 billion hours of their time to help fellow Americans in need or improve their communities. It is estimated that the dollar value of that volunteer work is $169 billion. Americans are indeed a generous people. Moreover, Americans have been generous to those in need since the first settlers arrived on these shores. Those English men and women who first arrived in the New World were confronted by difficulties few of them could have imagined when they left the country of their birth. In those early years, harshness of weather, crop failures, and outbreaks of disease often decimated the colonists, huddled in their tiny beachheads on the east coast of the strange new continent. They endured these rigors through extreme hard work and through close fellowship.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney declined Donald Trump’s invitation to participate in his December 27 debate, sponsored by Newsmax Media and ION TV in Des Moines, Iowa, saying “We [already] have two debates in December that I’ve agreed to participate in. The rest of the month will be spent campaigning.” Trump was gracious in his response, saying: “It would seem logical to me that if I was substantially behind in the polls, especially in Iowa, South Carolina and Florida, I would want to participate in this debate. But I understand why Gov. Romney decided not to do it.” But all Trump’s response did was to raise questions: Was Romney really that busy? Would his campaign benefit by his absence, appearing to be aloof and “above the fray” while his lessers battled between themselves? Did Romney want to put some distance between himself and Trump, as that relationship was appearing to be getting awfully cozy? Would Romney’s absence spell the death knell for the debate now that three of the contenders were planning to be campaigning elsewhere? At present only Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have agreed to attend, while Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann are considering the matter. And supporters are getting nervous, especially the two “conservative” organizations who are cosponsoring the event, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and the American Conservative Union (ACU). Spokesmen for each urged those on the fence to join Trump in Des Moines. Grover Norquist, founder and head of ATR, issued this statement:
The federal bench, more and more, determines the policy of federal and state government. So it is an indication of conflict over the direction of our nation that President Obama appointed Caitlin Halligan, who is General Council of the District Attorney’s Office in the City of New York, to the post of judge on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Republicans in the Senate, however, blocked that appointed by preventing cloture. Halligan, who had been Solicitor General for Elliot Spitzer, the disgraced former Governor of New York, had engaged in the sort of legal advocacy that placed her on the extreme of American politics. Among the activist cases that she supported were these: Pro-life groups that are engaged in opposing abortions are guilty of extortion; colleges are proper in using race as a criteria for admitting students; illegal immigrants should be allowed back pay for labor disputes in our country; the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to use the Clean Air Act to regulate the so-called “Greenhouse Gases”; and gun manufacturers may be sued for crimes committed with the weapons they made. Although President Obama said that he was “deeply disappointed” in what he described as Republican obstructionism, in fact in the vote for cloture in the Senate, which requires 60 votes, Obama could muster only 54 votes, and the President could not even get every member of his own political party to support a procedural measure like cloture.
Residents of western Michigan need fear terrorists no more. Courtesy of a Homeland Security grant, 13 counties are now prepared to thwart any and all terrorist attacks with… snow-cone machines.  According to the Greenville Daily News, the West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission (WMSRDC), “a federal- and state-designated agency responsible for managing and administrating the homeland security program in Montcalm County and 12 other counties[,] … recently purchased and transferred homeland security equipment to these counties — including 13 snow cone machines at a total cost of $11,700.” (WOOD-TV of Grand Rapids puts the price tag at a mere $6,200.) WMSRDC got the money for the machines and other equipment via a grant from the Michigan Homeland Security Program.  
Six of the top seven GOP presidential candidates addressed the Republican Jewish Coalition December 7, with only Ron Paul being excluded from the forum by organizers because of the Texas Congressman's opposition to all foreign aid.  
An organization in Britain dedicated to protecting women from so-called honor crimes has reported a massive increase in the practice, noting that Muslims and other religious minorities committed more than 3,000 such crimes in Britain in 2010.  Although a police spokesman offered the politically-correct statement that "honor crimes" cross all religious and cultural boundaries, statistics show that Muslims commit the vast majority of them — which are often honor killings. Honor killings are becoming increasingly common in the United States as well.  
High on the agenda of President Obama is the exportation of America’s homosexual activism to other nations. On December 6 the President issued a memorandum indicating that he would use U.S. agencies and foreign aid to press forward this strategy. In the White House memorandum, the President claimed that he was “deeply concerned by the violence and discrimination targeting LGBT [Lesbians, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender] persons around the world,” and was therefore “directing all agencies engaged abroad to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons.” Among the specific actions Obama directed overseas agencies to take were to: • Interfere in the affairs of foreign nations that attempt to criminalize homosexual behavior. Obama directed U.S. officials and agencies working abroad to “strengthen existing efforts to effectively combat the criminalization by foreign governments of LGBT status or conduct and to expand efforts to combat discrimination, homophobia, and intolerance on the basis of LGBT status or conduct.” • Prioritize the efforts of homosexuals seeking special status. The President directed the Departments of State, Justice, and Homeland Security to ramp up their sensitivity training so that federal officials and agents “can effectively address the protection of LGBT refugees” and “expedite resettlement of highly vulnerable” homosexuals.
The U.S. Senate has returned to the debate over whether the proceedings of the Supreme Court should be televised. Senators Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) have cosponsored the Cameras in the Courtroom Act of 2011. The measure was introduced on December 5, 10 years after the Sunshine in the Courtroom Act was authored by Senator Grassley and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).   A companion bill of identical name was introduced in the House the following day by Representative Gerry Connolly (D-Va.). That bill is currently under consideration by the House Judiciary Committee.   The legislation, presented on Monday, would "permit television coverage of all open sessions of the Court unless the Court decides, by a vote of the majority of justices, that allowing such coverage in a particular case would constitute a violation of the due process rights of 1 or more of the parties before the Court."   Setting aside the rare reference by anyone in Congress to the protection of constitutional civil liberties, there is the more interesting question of whether or not the Congress has the constitutional authority to mandate anything to one of the other branches of the federal government.
In a letter sent last week to members of the state legislature, Alabama's Attorney General recommends repealing key provisions of the state's well-publicized anti-illegal immigration statute. Attorney General Luther Strange suggests the repeal of at least two of the law's more controversial sections, both of which are currently not being enforced per an injunction handed down by a federal appeals court. Specifically, the sections suggested for scrapping include one that makes it a crime for illegal aliens to be to be detained while not in possession of proper immigration documentation, and another mandating that the state's public schools maintain a registry of their students' immigration status.   In the memo dated December 1, Strange set out his purpose in making the recommendation for removal of elements of the state statute: "My goals are to (1) make the law easier to defend in court; (2) assist law enforcement in implementation; and (3) remove burdens on law abiding citizens. All while not weakening the law."   In October, both of these portions of the law (HB 56) were blocked from being enforced by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals sitting in Atlanta. The Obama administration sued Alabama, asserting that by enacting the law the state legislature and Governor violated the Constitution by legislating in an area over which the federal government has exclusive authority.
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