It's not like the old days in China when the top guys in the Communist Party at least pretended to be pro-equality. Back then, "poor peasants" were encouraged to denounce and kill "rich peasants" for the crime of being too productive, too individualistic, or insufficiently enthusiastic about self-sacrifice. Today in Australia there's a mansion, overlooking Sydney Harbor, that recently sold for $32.4 million. Its new owner is Zeng Wei, 43, the son of Zeng Qinghong, once one of the most powerful men in the Chinese Communist Party.
As the year 2011 has witnessed an inordinate number of protests, particularly in the state of Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin has proposed a number of steps to restrict certain displays of opposition in his state. Walker has indicated that he wants to introduce a fee to protestors who wish to demonstrate. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported last week, “Gov. Scott Walker’s administration could hold demonstrators at the Capitol liable for the cost of extra police or cleanup and repairs after protests, under a new policy unveiled Thursday.” According to the policy, groups of four or more people must first obtain permits before conducting any activity or display in state buildings, and must obtain those permits at least 72 hours in advance of any event. The rules regulating displays outside of the Capitol indicate that a permit is required for 100 or more people. There is some wiggle room for spontaneous gatherings in the wake of unforeseen events.
The House Ethics Committee announced December 2 that it will extend its investigation into allegations that Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-Ill.) or a surrogate offered to raise campaign funds for then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich in exchange for President Obama’s former Senate seat. In a news release, Committee Chairman Jo Bonner (R-Ala.) and ranking member Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) disclosed that the committee will need more time to "gather additional information necessary to complete its review." A newly released report, originally compiled in August 2009 by the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) claims there is "probable cause" to affirm that Jackson "directed a third party" to raise money for Blagojevich in exchange for a Senate appointment, or knew his surrogate "would likely make such an offer." At least $1.5 million in campaign funding was reportedly offered. There is "substantial reason to believe" Jackson usurped federal law by ordering his congressional staff to launch a "public campaign" to secure the appointment, the report noted. Further, the OCE report named businessman Raghuveer Nayak as a likely third party.
In an effort to discourage the Mexican government's violations of the human rights of Central American migrants, last Friday more than 30 House Democrats urged Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to put pressure on the Mexican government by making any American aid to Mexico contingent on Mexico's proper treatment of Central American migrants. Led by Rep. Raul Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat and co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, dozens of Democratic colleagues signed a letter that castigated Mexican authorities for kidnapping, robbing, and extorting money from migrants who cross the Mexican border into the United States. "We believe that strengthening Mexico's efforts to evaluate performance and increase the accountability of its security forces, including the Federal Police and the INM (National Migration Institute) should be key elements of U.S. assistance to Mexico," read the letter. It added that such action is the only way to "ensure that crimes and human rights violations committed by members of these federal agencies do not go unpunished."
Reports indicate that the predominant costs of implementing the Environmental Protection Agency’s new "green" economy regulations are job loss (as coal plants are forced to close) and mass blackouts. President Obama admitted in a 2008 interview that he is intent on shutting down the U.S. coal industry:
Two months after receiving the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for military bravery, former Marine Sergeant Dakota Meyer finds himself in an intense battle with a potentially far more pernicious foe than the Afghan Taliban: a global defense and security contractor with ties to the U.S. military. In late November Meyer filed a lawsuit against his former employer, the U.K.-based defense contractor BAE Systems, for what he charges is retaliation against him after he criticized the company’s pending sale of high-tech sniper scopes to the Pakistani military. According to the suit, after Meyer resigned from BAE in protest over the sale, the company effectively blocked his hiring by another company by claiming he had a drinking problem and was mentally unstable.
When Brandon Burgess, CEO of ION Television, named the producers of the upcoming Republican presidential debate being cosponsored by Newsmax, in Iowa on December 27, he was ebullient in his praise: “ION, Newsmax and Mr. Trump are committed to host a serious presidential forum which will include some of the most reputable journalists and media people in the country.” The debate will be produced by veterans of CNN, CBS, and NBC News. Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy was no less enthusiastic: “With Donald Trump and the top-notch media and production team led by Eason Jordan [who was president of CNN's news gathering for 23 years] we have organized, we expect that the Newsmax ION 2012 Presidential Debate will have the largest audience of any Republican primary debate to date.” Those named to the production team reflect Ruddy’s long-standing and friendly relationship with the mainstream media, which goes all the way back to when Ruddy started Newsmax with money and significant help from Richard Mellon Scaife, heir to the Mellon banking interests and one of the 250 wealthiest individuals in the world. Scaife owns and publishes the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, which has been criticized for its overt bias in favor of Democratic political officeholders in Pittsburgh. Scaife was known for ignoring campaign finance rules, donating nearly $1 million to President Nixon’s reelection campaign in 1972 but escaping without ever being charged. He also endorsed Hillary Clinton in her run for the Democrat party’s nomination in 2008.
Last Thursday, the often controversial Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (occasionally derisively called the “Ninth Circus Court” for its untenable holdings) threw out a case brought by an Arizona police officer. The court ruled that the officer did not have standing to challenge the state’s strict anti-illegal immigration law, SB 1070. The appellant, Martin Escobar, is a patrolman with the Tucson police department. He filed suit last year claiming that he was “mandated to enforce SB 1070” and therefore he had standing sufficient to proceed with his complaint. Simply put, "standing" is a legal concept wherein the party bringing the suit proves to the court that he has “connection to and harm from the law or action challenged to support that party's participation in the case.” Escobar defended the sufficiency of his standing by explaining that "if he refuses to enforce the Act, he can be disciplined by his employer," and if he does enforce it, he "can be subject to costly civil actions" for "deprivation of civil rights of the individual against whom he enforces the Act." The Court of Appeals was not persuaded, and it ruled against Escobar's assertion of standing. As a result of its holding in the Escobar case, the Ninth Circuit upheld the decision of the lower court dismissing the suit.
House Republicans, accelerating efforts to combat the frenetic influx of federal regulations that continue to flood the U.S. economy, passed the Regulatory Accountability Act (RAA) Friday, which would require all federal agencies to audit proposed rules more thoroughly before they are enacted, and make sure procedures for rulemaking follow proper steps. Federal courts would be more involved in the process, and regulators would be forced to examine potential costs and benefits of alternatives. Opponents of the legislation claim it will emasculate environmental improvements, workplace safety, and the safety of children’s toys. The 253-167 vote will move the regulation bill to the Democrat-led Senate, where analysts believe it is likely to be smothered. The White House vowed a veto before the vote took place, claiming the legislation would obstruct the federal government’s regulatory authority with unprecedented hurdles. OMB Watch, a liberal advocacy group that monitors federal regulations and strives to make public the secretive actions of the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB), blasted the bill in a press release. The organization’s president, Katherine McFate, stated, "Today, the House voted to bulldoze a half century of rulemaking procedures with the deliberately mislabeled Regulatory Accountability Act."
Egyptian voters delivered a powerful victory to Islamists and the long-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood in the first round of parliamentary elections, with hard-line Islamic parties winning around 65 percent of the vote. The news sparked widespread fears among Christians and others that Egypt could be plunged into tyranny once again while jeopardizing the security of neighboring Israel. Official election results released on Sunday showed the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) garnering a sizeable lead with almost 37 percent of the vote. The more radical Salafi Muslim party Al Nour did far better than expected with close to 25 percent of the 10 million votes cast in the first of three rounds of elections. The most significant secular party, the Egyptian Bloc, won less than 14 percent and came in third overall. But smaller moderate Islamic and secular parties performed poorly. Questions are growing about what the new Egyptian government might look like after the first real elections in decades. It remains unclear whether the Brotherhood’s FJP will ally itself with the even more radical Islamist parties or form a coalition with liberal groups.