Following a campaign that saw her fade rapidly from a front-running favorite to an “also-ran,” U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) threw in the towel on her presidential aspirations after a disappointing performance in the Iowa caucuses on January 3. Carrying a mere five percent of the vote in the GOP contest, Bachmann finished a dismal sixth behind front-runners Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, who shared 24.5 percent of the Iowa votes, as well as being far-outdistanced by Ron Paul (21.4 percent), Newt Gingrich (13.3), and even Rick Perry (10.3). Late into the evening on the night of the caucuses CNSNews.com had quoted Bachmann as saying that she would continue with her long-shot campaign. “I believe that I am that true conservative who can and who will defeat Barack Obama in 2012,” she told a small core of supporters. “What we need is a fearless conservative, one with no compromises on their record on spending, on healthcare, on crony capitalism, on defending America, on standing with our ally Israel.” But at a hastily organized morning press conference on January 4, Bachmann announced her withdrawal from the race. “Last night the people of Iowa spoke with a very clear voice, and so I have decided to step aside,” she declared with her family by her side. She added that she had “no regrets, none whatsoever. We never compromised our principles and we can leave this race knowing that we ran it with utmost integrity. We made a very important contribution to this race.”
In his annual report on the federal judiciary published Saturday, Chief Justice John Roberts of the United States Supreme Court wrote the he has “complete confidence” in the ability of his fellow high court justices to determine the appropriate time to recuse themselves from cases wherein they may have personal interest. Recusal is the process by which a judge abstains from participating in a hearing due to a conflict of interest. According to applicable federal law (United States Code Title 28, Section 455), a “judge shall recuse [himself] in any case in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned.”   Roberts’s comment comes at an apropos time as in its next term the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in two very high-profile cases: one challenging the legality of Arizona’s immigration statute (S.B. 1070), the other seeks to determine the constitutionality of ObamaCare.   Justice Kagan has already announced that she will recuse herself from considering the Arizona immigration case. While serving as the Solicitor General in the Obama administration, Kagan was personally involved in many of the actions taken by the White House and the Department of Justice in the legal proceedings they initiated against Arizona after enactment of S.B. 1070.  
Over 26,000 Republicans participating in that party’s Iowa Caucus voted for Ron Paul.  According to data breaking down entrance polls conducted by Edison Research, Ron Paul won 43 percent of independents who voted in Tuesday's caucus.   Conversely, however, he garnered only 14 percent of those describing themselves as “Republicans.” This seems a substantial obstacle to the Texas Congressman’s eventual nomination as he is running as a Republican.   A story posted on ronpaul2012.com insisted that despite the third-place finish, Ron Paul was “the candidate for real change” and the only alternative to the Establishment’s man -— Mitt Romney.   There is no doubt that Ron Paul has little in common with winner-by-a-nose, Mitt Romney. The former Governor of Massachusetts has a history of promoting the individual mandate concept with regard to state-run health care and of being hawkish on the use of American military forces in Iran, Syria, and Libya. All of these policies are anathema to the concept of limited government espoused by Paul and held so dear by his legions of constitutionalist supporters.
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.”
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