You are browsing the archive for 2013 April 30.

Avatar of admin

by admin

Sens. Paul, McConnell and Alexander Respond to Army Corps Restrictions on Tailwaters Access

April 30, 2013 in Politics & Elections

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) released the following statements in response to restrictions announced by the Army Corps of Engineers today that would restrict access to fishermen in the tailwaters below dams in Kentucky and Tennessee. The Senators recently introduced legislation, the Freedom to Fish Act, to protect these areas from unreasonable regulation by the Corps.

‘What is at issue here is our state’s freedom to regulate its waters appropriately. These restrictions come with no justification and do not even reflect policies carried out in other Corps’ districts. My colleagues and I have tried to facilitate a compromise solution with the community, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Department, and the Army Corps of Engineers, but the Corps has not been amenable to our efforts. Folks in this area should have the freedom to fish these waters without a one-size-fits-all Washington solution dictated by an out-of-control Administration. I will continue to fight with my colleagues to get our legislation passed and put an end to this unreasonable restriction,’ Sen. Paul said.

‘I remain opposed to this proposal because the Corps still plans to restrict access to the tailwaters of these dams 24 hours per day, 7 days per week rather than focusing efforts on when the dam gates are open and spilling, apparently the only time the waters themselves present an active danger. This plan demonstrates a complete disregard for the people affected most directly by the policy and is yet another example of this Administration forcing burdensome regulations on communities rather than working with them to ensure safety. Blocking fishing access to the tailwaters of Lake Barkley and Wolf Creek will not only rob fishermen of a beloved pastime, it will also impair tourism in the area and depress the Kentucky economy. I will continue to work with my colleagues to pass the Freedom to Fish Act that will protect Kentuckians’ right to access waters anglers have safely fished for years,’ Sen. McConnell said.

‘This is a waste of taxpayer dollars and an unreasonable interference with the right to fish below the dams the public owns. We will therefore move ahead in the U.S. Senate next week with legislation to ensure the freedom of Americans to fish in these waters at times that the state wildlife agencies believe is consistent with reasonable efforts to ensure public …read more

Source: RAND PAUL

Avatar of admin

by admin

Feds Threaten Medical Pot Dispensaries with 40-Year Sentences

April 30, 2013 in Blogs

By Natasha Lennard, Salon

A lawful San Jose dispensary has been ordered to vacate in latest federal crackdown to challenge state laws.


In the latest act in the ongoing drama pitting federal drug laws against state legislation permitting the sale of marijuana, a U.S. Attorney is threatening the landlords housing medical marijuana dispensaries with 40 years in federal prison. After ballot measures legalizing the sale and possession of recreational use pot passed in Colorado and Washington state, we wondered whether Obama’s second term would see the beginning of the end of the federal war on drugs.

But as the San Jose crackdown among others suggests, the Justice Department will not be backing down. In January, South California medical marijuana dispensary operator, Aaron Sandusky, was sentenced to ten years in federal prison for running a business deemed legal in his state since California legalized marijuana for qualified patients, caregivers, and collectives in 1996 and 2003. Now, as the East Bay Express reported, “a new round of actions against lawful medical cannabis dispensaries in the South Bay” has begun following crackdowns in 2011:

Landlords are receiving threatening letters from US Attorney Melinda Haag, warning of forty-year-prison sentences if landlords do not evict their dispensary tenants…

In October 2011, Haag and three other US Attorneys declared war on California’s estimated $1.3 billion medical marijuana industry, threatening hundreds of landlords with forfeiture. Hundreds of dispensaries across the state moved or closed. Haag is attempting to seize Harborside Health Center in Oakland, as well as its sister club in San Jose.

Last year, California Gov. Jerry Brown asked the feds to call off their crackdown, saying California didn’t need “federal gendarmes” kicking in the doors of lawful businesses. In January, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano told a San Francisco crowd that Haag had “gone rogue,” adding, “I’m sorry a house fell on her sister,” alluding to the wicked witch in The Wizard of Oz. Last week, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom called for decriminalizing, regulating, and taxing California’s multi-billion dollar marijuana industry.

The second term Obama administration was presented an aperture to push back against the ruinous war on drugs. The Department of Justice is choosing …read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

Bubble, Bubble, Housing in Trouble

April 30, 2013 in Economics

By Joseph Salerno

It appears that the Fed’s zero-interest-rate and QE policies have finally achieved its insane goal of re-igniting a housing bubble.

The Case-Schiller 20-City Index shows that housing prices increased by 1.2 percent in February and 9.3 percent year-over-year. All cities included in the index experienced substantial gains, which have been driven by staggeringly large increases in the bottom tier of the market. In Phoenix housing prices rose by 23 percent over the past year, but by 39 percent in the bottom third of the housing market. Las Vegas home prices were up by 17.6 percent in the past year while prices for houses in the bottom tier rose by 34.2 percent, and at an annual rate of 56.2 percent in the last three months. In Atlanta, bottom-tier home prices rose 36 percent year-over-year and at an annual rate of 70 percent in the past three months.

In light of the current data, Dean Baker, one of the few left-of-center economists to issue an early warning about the last housing bubble, sees signs of a renewed housing bubble on the horizon:

This rapid increase in house prices should be prompting serious concern among regulators. At the moment, it is not driving the economy in the same way as the housing bubble did in the last decade. Construction is still at very low levels, so a plunge in prices could not have impact on the economy through this channel. While saving rates are again low, possibly due in part to increasing home equity, it is likely that the data are somewhat distorted by the large dividend payouts of the fourth quarter. If the saving rate remains below 3.0 percent into the second half of the year (the post-World War II average is more than 8.0 percent) then this would suggest that inflated house prices are playing a role. If that is the case, a decline in house prices would lead to another hit to consumption.

However the main reason that the rapid run-up in prices in the bottom tier should be a cause for a concern is that moderate-income homebuyers may again take a big hit if these prices plunge in a correction.

For some compelling anecdotal evidence on the high-end market, consider this. Crain’s reports on the sale of three condos sold in the Gretsch Building, a former guitar factory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn:

Two of the condos, …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

Avatar of admin

by admin

The Real Impact of Government Spending

April 30, 2013 in Economics

We read news stories almost every day that simply assume that government spending is good for the economy. Any defense or nondefense spending restraint will hurt economic growth, it is supposed. But is this really the case? Cato scholar Chris Edwards argues that, while government spending certainly helps the government-dependent parts of the U.S. economy, its impact on the private economy is clearly negative.

…read more

Source: CATO HEADLINES

Avatar of admin

by admin

Assembly Codes Committee Passes Bill to Allow Medicinal Use of Marijuana in New York State

April 30, 2013 in PERSONAL LIBERTY

By drosenfeld

Advocates Urge New York Assembly and Senate to Pass Bill

Earlier today, the New York State Assembly Codes Committee passed (A.6357/Gottfried) by a vote of 16 to 6. The bill would alleviate the suffering of thousands of seriously ill New Yorkers by allowing the use of marijuana to treat debilitating, life-threatening illnesses under a doctor’s supervision.

read more

…read more

Source: DRUG POLICY

Avatar of admin

by admin

Sen. Paul Issues Letter to Secretary Kerry Requesting Declassification of Foreign Aid Violations

April 30, 2013 in Politics & Elections

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Friday, April 26, Sen. Rand Paul issued a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry requesting that instances of waste, misuse and theft of U.S. foreign aid be investigated and then made public. During Secretary Kerry’s testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 18, he pledged to investigate any instances of waste and theft of foreign aid. Sen. Paul believes these instances of waste and abuse should be transparent for the American people to judge for themselves whether the benefits of our taxpayer-funded aid is worth the costs.
TEXT OF LETTER:
The Honorable John F. Kerry
Secretary
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520

April 26, 2013
Dear Secretary Kerry,
During your testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on April 18, 2013, you pledged to investigate any instances of waste, misuse, and downright theft of foreign aid that I brought to your attention. I am writing to highlight the fact that there are numerous recorded violations of abuse within our foreign aid programs- foreign military aid, specifically – that are already catalogued by your agency, but are unavailable to the American public because the State Department keeps these details classified. I am asking for you to declassify these details to ensure that the American people have all the information when it comes to how their tax dollars are spent overseas.
Section 3 of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) requires the President to report to Congress violations by foreign countries of the conditions of their aid; theft of funds or equipment or the misuse of defense articles would qualify in this regard. If a substantial violation is discovered, that country can be deemed ineligible for further US military aid – although, to my knowledge, this has never actually occurred, even when substantial violations by various countries are regularly and repeatedly uncovered. However, the details of all of these violations remain conveniently classified.
Of additional concern to me is the fact that the State Department has not had an Inspector General in over five years. As you know, the IG position is specifically designed to ferret out wasteful programs and instances of misused or stolen program funds. I understand that the House Committee on Foreign Affairs sent you a letter in February asking you to appoint an Inspector General …read more

Source: RAND PAUL

Avatar of admin

by admin

What Happened When My Gay Partner and I Went to a Bigoted Church and Confronted the Pastor

April 30, 2013 in Blogs

By SouthernDemRonFollow, Daily Kos

We talked for over 3 hours. Needless to say, we were unable to reach common ground.


Last week, someone who hardly ever shows up on my Facebook newsfeed actually DID, and it was Mark McKeel’s photo that caught my eye.  Not more than a mile from my own home, along Highway 707 in the rural Burgess-Socastee area outside Myrtle Beach, the Socastee Free Will Baptist Church posted the message you see on the accompanying photo.  At first, I thought maybe it was an old photo from years ago, just resurfacing.  Then I actually drove by the church later that day, and – to my shock – saw the message was, in fact, current. (photo of Church billboard above)

It occurred to me I HAD to attend this church.  First, I cannot express enough how much I loathe attending a church I’m not familiar with, as it is.  Secondly, walking into what could very well have been a lion’s den of hate and defiance and venom (at least that’s what ran through my mind leading up to actually going) had my better half (Ethan) and I anxious.

Because Ethan couldn’t be bothered to awake before 1pm Sunday (the bum), we decided we would attend the 6pm service.  We walked in, took our seats, were warmly greeted by a half dozen or so congregants and the church’s pastor, himself, Pastor Darren Squires.

Through most of the service, the topic on their marquee wasn’t a topic in the service; until (I’m guessing an understudy-in-training) Thomas weaved his sermon into that realm.  In all fairness, he’s new to the “calling,” so it can be understood that his sermon lacked a little focus and sort of wandered at times, and so I sort of lost  focus, myself, and cannot actually recall how he eventually got to the message that drew us in.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure how or when I was going to speak up; as the service wore on, I opted to wait for a one-on-one with Pastor Squires, and he obliged us – for three hours I might add – and we …read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

Hoosiers Are Right to Be Wary about Common Core

April 30, 2013 in Economics

By Neal McCluskey

Neal McCluskey

Indiana has just shot into the spotlight of the education world, with the legislature voting over the weekend to hit the pause button on the Common Core national curriculum standards. But this action is just the loudest strike in a growing backlash against the core, a revolt set off by the arrival of the federally backed standards into schools across the country. And people are right to be wary, especially since core supporters have too often ridiculed dissenters instead of engaging in honest debate.

While 45 states have adopted the Common Core, don’t mistake that for enthusiastic, nationwide support. States were essentially coerced into adopting by the President’s Race to the Top program, which tied federal dough to signing on. Even if policymakers in recession-hobbled states would have preferred open debate, there was no time. Blink, and the money would be gone. Which isn’t to say there wasn’t opposition — there certainly was among policy wonks — but most people hadn’t ever heard of the standards at adoption time and their effects wouldn’t be felt for several years.

Today, the effects are here, and so is the opposition. Indiana is arguably the highest-profile rebel, with its new legislation set to halt implementation of the core so Hoosiers can, at the very least, learn about what they’re getting into. Nationally, the Republican National Committee has officially condemned the standards, while several states are in the process of potentially withdrawing from the core. Finally, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, has requested that a Senate subcommittee handling education end federal meddling in standards and assessment.

What have Common Core supporters done in response to this groundswell of concern? Rather than address worries and evidence that the Common Core is empirically ungrounded, moves the country closer to a federal education monopoly, and treats unique children like identical cogs, supporters have often smeared opponents and dodged constructive debate.

As Common Core continues to be implemented, the chorus of opposition is likely to grow.”

In Indiana, Democrats for Education Reform State Director Larry Grau wrote a blog post and blast email that said, “it’s growing late and some of us have spent the night canoodling with far-right opponents of the Common Core State Standards. If that sounds like you, it’s time you ask yourself this question: ‘Am I going to hate myself for this in the morning?’” Of course the post included not one argument against …read more

Source: OP-EDS

Avatar of admin

by admin

Is This Guy the Biggest GOP Jerk in Congress?

April 30, 2013 in Blogs

By Alex Pareene, Salon

Ted Cruz has nothing to lose and everything to win by opposing any reasonable policy and generally acting like a jack-ass. Our system is truly broken.


Here’s Sen. Ted Cruz, Ted Cruzing it up, taking practically sole credit for killing gun background checks and trashing all his colleagues:

 

The New York Times charitably says that “Friday’s speech was not the first time Mr. Cruz may have acted counter to some of the Senate’s norms,” before bringing up Cruz’s decidedly McCarthyite take on Chuck Hagel.

Cruz is at the FreedomWorks Texas Summit, and the news here is that he calls most of his colleagues “squishes” and gives a (quite self-aggrandizing) account of off-the-record Senate Republican caucus luncheons, which apparently involved a lot of people yelling at Cruz and Rand Paul and the other guy who also promised to filibuster the entire gun deal from start to finish. In this version of events, the three filibustering amigos were responsible for the failure of the entire proposal. As Dave Weigel points out, that’s not really how it happened. The bill failed — and was probably doomed to begin with — because a lot more than three senators opposed it, and the Cruz/Paul filibuster threat was worse politics for the party than allowing debate to proceed and then watching red-state Democrats cave. Which is what actually happened.

This unbecoming display of narcissism and lack of team spirit led Washington Post blogger and former uncompensated Mitt Romney flack Jennifer Rubin to call Cruz a jerk. Which he undoubtedly is!

For starters, it’s just not smart to annoy colleagues whose cooperation and support you’ll need in the future. Second, as a conservative he should understand humility and grace are not incompatible with “standing on principle”; the absence of these qualities doesn’t make him more principled or more effective. Third, for a guy who lacks manners (see his condescending questioning of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) he comes across as whiny. They yelled at me! Boo hoo, senator.

Basically all of this analysis is dead wrong. At least it’s wrong in the specific case of Ted Cruz, who will not need anyone’s …read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

How Big Pharma Is Killing Americans and Bankrupting the Country

April 30, 2013 in Blogs

By Thom Hartmann, AlterNet

Lifesaving medications and commonly prescribed drugs in America today are absurdly expensive here – and only in this country – because Big Pharma is ripping off Americans.


Each year, millions of Americans are dealt the devastating news that they have cancer, and each year, millions of Americans, many of whom are uninsured, have to figure out how to pay for the life-saving treatments that they need.

And unfortunately, that decision can be a very hard one.

Thanks to America’s for-profit health insurance industry, prescription drugs are a big business.

In fact, in 2012, the top 11 global drug companies made nearly $85 billion in net profits.

They made these profits by slapping extraordinary price tags on the prescription drugs and health treatments that Americans are forced to rely on in order to survive devastating diseases like cancer.

But while drug companies have been largely able to get away with robbing Americans left and right for the past several decades, more and more people are speaking up about the outrageous costs of lifesaving treatments.

A group of more than 100 leading oncologists from across the globe have penned a journal article, announcing their plans to start a campaign to force drug companies to slash their profit margins.

In the article, the groups of oncologists ask, “What determines a morally justifiable price for a cancer drug? A reasonable drug price should maintain healthy pharmaceutical industry profits without being viewed as 'profiteering'.”

But cancer drugs aren’t the only drugs on the market that are gouging the wallets of Americans.

Last year, 11 of the 12 new-to-market drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration were priced above $100,000 per-patient per-year.

And, Americans pay nearly 50% more for comparable prescriptions in the United States than they would in the UK, France, Germany, Spain and a host of other developed nations.

For instance, look at Nexium, a drug commonly prescribed to treat acid reflux.

In Spain, a prescription for Nexium costs, on average, $18. In France and the United Kingdom, Nexium costs, on average, $30 and $32 respectively.

But here in the United States, a prescription for Nexium costs, on average, a whopping $187, …read more

Source: ALTERNET