How well can a shrimp perform on a treadmill? It’s a question that has puzzled mankind for ages. Fortunately, some researchers at the College of Charleston, South Carolina, are in the process of answering it — at a cost to U.S. taxpayers of a mere $682,570 (and counting).

The project first came to light in an April 2011 report on the National Science Foundation (NSF) issued by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). Coburn, famous for his annual reports on government waste, found what he considered to be “over $3 billion in mismanagement at NSF,” including $1.5 million to build a robot that can fold laundry (at a rate of one towel every 25 minutes), $300,000 to study whether Facebook’s FarmVille helps build personal relationships, and (at the time of the report) $559,681 to see if shrimp’s treadmill performance is impaired by disease. Since then, says CNSNews.com, the shrimp research grant has been increased to $682,570.

The study is, in fact, not as ridiculous as it sounds. According to a description of the study on the NSF’s website, it aims to discover how “human-made marine stresses [are] affecting the marine life we need.” Specifically, College of Charleston biology professors Louis Burnett and Karen Burnett

In response to the passage by the House and the Senate of the National Defense Appropriations Act of 2012 (NDAA), Stewart Rhodes, founder of Oath Keepers, announced a national effort to recall every member who voted for the act.

Oath Keepers was founded by Rhodes to encourage current members of the military services and veterans to keep their oath to protect and defend the Constitution against “all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Members commit to following certain “orders we will not obey,” including, as especially relevant to NDAA, Number Three:

 

Rep. Ron Paul’s top-tier status heading into Iowa and New Hampshire means he definitely can’t be totally ignored by the major media, as he has been in the past. So the censors and blackout artists have been replaced by the smear bund. This past week they got pretty well revved up, but they’re still probably a long way from being in high gear.

As The New American's Jack Kenny noted here a couple of days ago in his article, “Campaign Could Get 'Downright Ugly' if Paul Wins Iowa,” the Big Government Republicans are sharpening their knives for a bloodfest.

But they’re not waiting for the results of the January 3, 2012 Iowa caucuses to get ugly.

Over the past week, the apoplectic attack dogs of the neoconservative kennel were unleashed for a rabid, howling blitz against the Texas Congressman. It’s testimony to Dr. Paul’s squeaky clean personal and political life that the attackers have been forced to fabricate issues with which to clobber him. No sex scandals. No political payoffs from Freddie Mac or favoritism for Goldman Sachs. No political flip-flops on issues. No sellouts to special interests. So how do you attack a straight arrow such as Dr. Paul who is a constitutional purist and has doggedly stuck to his convictions for over three decades of public life? Well, they’re dusting off their playbook from the 2008 presidential campaign, and adding a few new twists. The smear bund is harping on several memes, hoping that sufficient repetition from multiple voices will convince voters that Ron Paul is “dangerous,” “crazy,” a “pacifist,” an “isolationist,” a “conspiracy crank,” and a “grumpy old man.”

"He offered specific advice to anti-government militia members," James Kirchick warned with a dark intonation of the Rep. Ron Paul newsletter scandal. Writing with a tsk-tsk tone in The Weekly Standard, Kirchick fearfully screeched of the Paul newsletters:

 

On December 22, a judge from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia issued an order granting  a motion to dismiss a complaint filed by Abdul Rahim Abdul Razak al Janko, a former prisoner at the Navy’s Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility in Cuba.  In the suit, Janko, a Syrian national, alleges that while detained at the Guantanamo Bay facility he was subjected to torture by agents of the United States government and armed forces. 

 

“Everything we know about [Mitt] Romney’s record tells us to not trust anything he says while he’s campaigning for office, because his positions will change when he’s trying to appeal to a different electorate,” observed Philip Klein of the Washington Examiner. Klein is correct, of course. In just a few short years Romney has, for instance, gone from being pro-choice to being pro-life and from describing himself as a “progressive” to saying he’s a “conservative Republican.”

Klein, however, is specifically reacting to video of an April 2010 Romney appearance that has recently resurfaced on YouTube. In the video Romney compares and contrasts the healthcare plan he signed into law as Governor of Massachusetts with the one President Barack Obama approved shortly before this appearance. He ends by saying that he wants “to eliminate some of the differences, repeal the bad, and keep the good” in ObamaCare.

An online article by the Associated Press reported on December 19th that the Iowa Republican Party is taking seriously the threat of disrupting the Iowa Caucuses. The article went on to say that the Republican Party is encouraging the use of paper ballots instead of show of hands, which has traditionally been the norm at many of the caucus sites.  This is for the purpose of reconstructing the results, if necessary. It also quoted Ryan Gough, who is in charge of coordinating the caucuses, as declining to release the specific details of the Iowa GOP's security plan in order not to make these details available to any hackers.

 

“It’s infuriating,” Bruce Schneier remarked. “We’re spending billions upon billions of dollars doing this — and it is almost entirely pointless. Not only is it not done right, but even if it was done right it would be the wrong thing to do.”

Schneier could, of course, have been referring to any of dozens of government programs. In this case, however, he was speaking of the federal government’s post-9/11 airport security measures — measures that Schneier, a security expert, has dubbed “security theater,” defined as “actions that accomplish nothing but are designed to make the government look like it is on the job.”

 

A judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina issued a preliminary injunction on December 22 against key provisions of the South Carolina immigration statute. The plaintiffs in the case include a group of civil rights organizations and the United States Department of Justice.

Of the 20 sections of the South Carolina law, four of them were challenged and are now blocked from enforcement. These four include provisions which that state criminal sanctions for: “harboring and transporting of unlawfully present persons”; “failure to carry alien registration materials”; “the creation of fraudulent identification documents”; and the directive to state and local law enforcement officials to “determine the immigration status of certain persons encountered in routine traffic stops and other contacts in which there is a ‘reasonable suspicion’ that the person may be in the United States unlawfully.”
 
The civil rights groups challenging the law argue that enforcement of the law requires de facto racial profiling. The Justice Department argues that the Constitution places all power over the establishment of immigration policy in the hands of the federal government and that the legislature of South Carolina is thus preempted from passing legislation in that area of the law.

The “birther” movement was dealt another blow to its efforts to unseat President Obama on December 22 when a federal appeals court dismissed a legal challenge from a group, including former presidential candidate Alan Keyes, ruling that none of them had sufficient standing to sue the President. Those in the birther movement claim that Obama was not born in the United States and thus is constitutionally unqualified to be President.

As reported by the Los Angeles Times, none of the plaintiffs in the case “has the right to sue the president because none has suffered any injury that the court could heal with a ruling, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said in upholding a lower court’s dismissal of their lawsuit.”

The three-judge panel explained that even political candidates such as Keyes, who argue that they were injured by having an unqualified Obama enter the presidential race, would only have had standing to sue had they brought their case before the 2008 presidential election. “They cannot claim competitive standing because they were no longer candidates when they filed their complaint,” explained Judge Harry Pregerson, writing for the three-judge panel.

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