On December 29, 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit declared unconstitutional a Washington State statute regulating the donation of money to political action committees (PACs). Specifically, the law in question prohibited PACs from accepting contributions in excess of $5,000 within 21 days of an election.
The case challenging the measure was filed by Family PAC, a conservative political committee formed to oppose Washington's domestic partnership law through a voter referendum. In the suit, plaintiffs objected to three separate provisions of the new election law, only the third of which was held unconstitutional by the Ninth Circuit.
The first section objected to by Family PAC required a political committee to report the name and address of each person contributing more than $25 to the committee. The second provision that was challenged imposed a requirement on PACs that they report the occupation and employer of each person contributing more than $100 to the committee.
Family PAC’s third averment specifically challenged the three-week moratorium on PAC donations. The Ninth Circuit declared that the rule violated the First Amendment’s guarantee of unabridged free speech.
After capturing second place in the Iowa Republican caucuses, losing by a meager eight votes to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum is positioned to be the latest subject under the media’s microscope. When one becomes a frontrunner, the scrutiny quickly begins, and the question hovering over the former Pennsylvania Senator’s head is: Is Rick Santorum really the authentic conservative he proclaims to be?
Only hours after the Iowa caucuses closed, critics spelled out their cases as to why Santorum is not the "one true conservative running in 2012," which his campaign has been exuding since its original conception. Syndicated columnist David Harsanyi accused the presidential contender of being a "conservative technocrat," and a veritable bearer of "big-government conservatism."
"If the thought of big, intrusive liberal government offends you, he might just be your man," Harsanyi writes. "And if you favor a big, intrusive Republican government, he’s unquestionably your candidate."
While Congress remains on winter recess, President Obama hoodwinked his Senate Republican rivals of the newly-minted Consumer Financial Protection Bureau by naming former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray the nation’s chief consumer watchdog, sidestepping the Senate confirmation process. Mr. Cordray boarded Marine One on Wednesday for a brief flight to Andrews Air Force Base, where he joined the President in his hometown of Cleveland for a formal announcement.
With a director now in place, the agency will have the power to establish new regulations over financial institutions, including mortgage companies, debt collectors, payday lenders, and other entities often charged with contributing to the financial crisis. Moreover, the bureau will now be able to monitor mortgage originators and servicers, which were instrumental in the financial crisis by providing subprime mortgages to individuals and families who were not able to afford them.
"There is an army of lobbyists and lawyers right now working to water down the protections and the reforms that we passed," the President said in July when he nominated Cordray to head the bureau. "They've already spent tens of millions of dollars this year to try to weaken the laws that are designed to protect consumers. And they've got allies in Congress who are trying to undo the progress that we've made."
“Put down that sausage, pepperoni, and extra cheese, son, and no one will get hurt.” Words to that effect were spoken to 10-year-old Nicholas Taylor, a student at David Youree Elementary School in Smyrna, Tennessee, when he committed the unpardonable offense of pretending that a half-eaten slice of pizza was a gun and, in the words of school district spokesman James Evans, “threatening” other students with it.
Fortunately, the boy complied rather than mowing down his classmates in a hail of anchovies, and the danger was averted. And for so recklessly endangering the lives of his fellow students, he was punished with six days of eating lunch at the “silent table” and a lecture on pizza — er, gun — safety.
The incident is the latest — and perhaps the most ludicrous, though the competition is fierce — example of public schools’ zero-tolerance policies with regard to firearms. Students have previously been disciplined for such grave infractions as doodling a picture of a gun and possessing a pen with the logo of a gun manufacturer. Now, it seems, the time-honored tradition of playing with one’s food can land a kid in the principal’s office if he imagines that food is a deadly weapon.
German airline carrier Lufthansa warned passengers on Monday that the European Union’s (EU) new carbon tax on airlines will translate into higher fares, as the carrier plans to avoid shouldering new costs generated from an EU carbon trading scheme. Analysts say Lufthansa is among the airlines most influenced by the measure, along with rival carriers British Airways, United Continental (the two have merged), Air France, and Singapore Airlines.
Beginning January 1, 2012, the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) requires airlines to hold emission rights in the form of CO2 certificates for all flights traveling in and out of Europe. Under a directive intended to tackle alleged climate change, airlines flying in and out of the 27-nation European Union and three neighboring countries will be subjected to CO2 regulations as part of an expansion of the world’s largest carbon market. Any emissions beyond selected allowances must be paid for, while airlines are allowed to trade permits among themselves.
India, China, and a handful of other nations including the United States have protested the measure, as the Obama administration, the aviation industry, and various free market groups have expressed firm discontent. A legal challenge against the ETS, triggered by a handful of U.S. airlines, failed in December when the European Court of Justice shot it down. Some opposing countries have taken actions to combat the initiative:
Who will be in charge of the executive branch of government if Mitt Romney is our next President? Who will be making the decisions coming out of the White House, decisions affecting matters as crucial as the question of war or peace? When Romney ran for the 2008 nomination. he was asked a rather basic question by Chris Matthews of MSNBC during one of the many televised debates.
China has been hit once more by a food safety crisis, as officials in that country attempt to assure its own people, as well as consumers in the United States and elsewhere, that its products are safe. The Chinese government’s official Xinhua press agency reported on December 30 that food safety inspectors in the southern city of Shenzhen had discovered carcinogenic mildew in peanuts and cooking oil at some markets and restaurants.
High levels of the toxin aflatoxin were found in peanuts in three markets, and in cooking oil in four restaurants, Xinhua reported. “Aflatoxin is produced by a fungus that commonly grows on crops such as grains and peanuts,” the news site reported.” While the toxin is found in insignificant levels in most peanut crops, including those grown in the United States, high levels of aflatoxin have been linked to liver damage and cancer.
An earlier report from the government news site said that high levels of the same toxic substance had been found recently in milk and other products from a popular dairy company in the region. “An initial investigation showed that the contamination was caused by mildewed feed given to cows in the dairy’s plant in southwest Sichuan province,” reported Xinhua. The news agency said that the Mengniu Dairy Company had “issued a public apology in an online statement, but insisted that the problem was discovered before the tainted milk could enter the market.”
What human motivation gets the most wonderful things done? It's really a silly question, because the answer is so simple. It turns out that it's human greed that gets the most wonderful things done. When I say greed, I am not talking about fraud, theft, dishonesty, lobbying for special privileges from government or other forms of despicable behavior. I'm talking about people trying to get as much as they can for themselves. Let's look at it.
This winter, Texas ranchers may have to fight the cold of night, perhaps blizzards, to run down, feed and care for stray cattle. They make the personal sacrifice of caring for their animals to ensure that New Yorkers can enjoy beef. Last summer, Idaho potato farmers toiled in blazing sun, in dust and dirt, and maybe being bitten by insects to ensure that New Yorkers had potatoes to go with their beef.
Here's my question: Do you think that Texas ranchers and Idaho potato farmers make these personal sacrifices because they love or care about the well-being of New Yorkers? The fact is whether they like New Yorkers or not, they make sure that New Yorkers are supplied with beef and potatoes every day of the week. Why? It's because ranchers and farmers want more for themselves. In a free market system, in order for one to get more for himself, he must serve his fellow man.
The former head of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) unit tracking terror leader Osama bin Laden, Michael Scheuer, endorsed Republican Rep. Ron Paul of Texas for President in 2012, days before the Iowa caucus. He argued, among other points, that the top-tier GOP hopeful is the best candidate to protect America from violent Islamic extremism.
In a column entitled "Iowa’s Choice: Dr. Paul or U.S. bankruptcy, more wars, and many more dead soldiers and Marines" published on his website over the weekend, Scheuer said voting for any candidate other than Paul would help inflict further damage on an already-wounded America. It would also contribute toward the continuation of a foreign policy that will ensure total national bankruptcy, noted the 22-year intelligence-community veteran, who now serves as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s Center for Peace and Security Studies.
“Dr. Paul’s non-interventionist policy will allow foreigners to work out their political destiny in their own way and at their own pace; prevent unnecessary additions to America’s growing list of enemies; and save countless young lives,” Scheuer wrote in his endorsement, blasting senior leaders and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle with harsh words. “Electing anyone but Ron Paul will further increase the already strong chances of widespread Islamist-conducted violence inside the United States.”