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Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Obama has been sharply criticised for the secrecy surrounding his extension of America's "targeted killing" campaign against al-Qaeda terrorist suspects using missile strikes by unmanned drones. The secret campaign has killed an estimated 4,700 people in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. A quarter are estimated to have been civilians prompting anger among human rights campaigners.




Barack Obama has authority to use drone strikes to kill Americans on US soil'

President Barack Obama has the authority to use an unmanned drone strike to kill US citizens on American soil, his attorney general has said.


By Jon Swaine, Washington 

TELEGRAPH
6:52PM GMT 06 Mar 2013



Eric Holder argued that using lethal military force against an American in his home country would be legal and justified in an extraordinary circumstance" comparable to the September 11 terrorist attacks.

"The president could conceivably have no choice but to authorise the military to use such force if necessary to protect the homeland," Mr Holder said.

His statement was described as "more than frightening" by Senator Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, who had demanded to know the Obama administration's position on the subject.

"It is an affront the constitutional due process rights of all Americans," said Mr Paul, a 50-year-old favourite of the anti-government Tea Party movement, who is expected to run for president in 2016.

Mr Holder wrote to Mr Paul after the senator threatened to block the appointment of John Brennan as the director of the CIA unless he received answers to a series of questions on its activities.

Mr Paul on Wednesday evening took to the floor of the Senate to launch an old-fashioned filibuster in an effort to delay a vote on the approval of Mr Brennan for CIA director. “I won’t be able to speak forever, but I’m going to speak as long as I can,” he said, before embarking on several hours of criticism of Mr Obamas compliance with the US constitution.

Mr Obama has been sharply criticised for the secrecy surrounding his extension of America's "targeted killing" campaign against al-Qaeda terrorist suspects using missile strikes by unmanned drones.

The secret campaign has killed an estimated 4,700 people in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. A quarter are estimated to have been civilians prompting anger among human rights campaigners.

According to research by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, drone strikes killed between 474 and 881 civilians – including 176 children – in Pakistan between 2004 and last year.

Criticism within the US has focused on the implications for terror suspects who are also US citizens, after Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical cleric born and educated in the US, was killed in Yemen in 2011.

The administration claims it has the legal authority to assassinate Americans provided that they are a senior al-Qaeda operative posing an imminent threat and it would be "infeasible" to capture them.

This justification emerged only last month in a leaked memo from Mr Holder's department of justice. Mr Obama this week agreed to give Congress his full set of classified legal memos on the targeting of Americans.

Civil liberties campaigners accuse the president and his aides of awarding themselves sweeping powers to deny Americans their constitutional rights without oversight from Congress or the judiciary.

Mr Holder stressed in his letter that the prospect of a president considering the assassination of an American citizen on US soil was "entirely hypothetical" and "unlikely to occur".

Yet it is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the president to authorise the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States," he wrote.

Appearing in front the Senate judiciary committee on Wednesday, Mr Holder reiterated that "the government has no intention to carry out any drone strikes in the United States".

Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, told him his reference to "extraordinary circumstances" such as September 11 or the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbour were "extremely concerning".

"It is imperative that we understand the operational boundaries for use of such force," Mr Grassley said. "American citizens have a right to understand when their life can be taken by their government absent due process."

Daphne Eviatar, a senior counsel at Human Rights First, said: “It’s hard to see how authorities could not be in a position to arrest someone yet be able to kill them.

“The administration should publish all its legal memos on targeted killing. Classified information can be redacted if necessary. There is no reason for legal opinions justifying ongoing US programmes to be kept secret.”

75 comments:

  1. Who the hell is Barack Obama?

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    Replies
    1. A truthteller, evidently. We all know, and have always known, that when push comes down to shove the President can do "whatever is necessary" to protect the nation. If that involves wasting Deuce, or Rufus on their way to work . . . . well . . . . .

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    2. Remember, no one thought twice when the word came out that Bush had ordered that jetliner shot down (the one that ultimately "crashed" in Pennsylvania.)

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    3. .

      That you do not see the distinction is telling.

      .

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  2. Hardly the same thing old boy… Rand Paul, regardless of his politics, made some important statements about the Obama administration’s policy regarding targeted drone killings.

    "Are we so complacent with our rights that we would allow a president to say he might kill Americans?"
    "…I will not sit quietly and let him shred the Constitution,”

    Paul also made a spot-on observation about Obama.

    “It amazes and disappoints me how much he has changed,” Paul said.
    There's an old saying for this: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

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    Replies
    1. It looks like the "same thing" to me. It was suspected (with, of course, very good reason) that hijackers were flying the plane, and that they might kill a large number of Americans; so the President ordered them, and their assumed hostages killed.

      A tough call; but most of us would, I think, say it was the right call.

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    2. .

      Of course, however, you fail to see (or intentionally avoid seeing) the manner in which the Obama administration is actually implimenting its targeted killing program. You reach for the Jack Bauer option without bothering to look at other considerations.

      While people may object to drones in general on privacy grounds, in the targeted killing program it is not the drones themselves but it's how they are bing used that is objectionable. Some object only on the abridgement of constitutional rights in the case of the Americans. Others object to the program based on human rights when it results in the killing of innocents.

      .

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  3. Three committee members who had been pressing the White House on the issue, Democrats Mark Udall and Ron Wyden and Republican Susan Collins, said in a statement before the vote that they planned to support Brennan because the administration had now given the committee “full access” to documents outlining the President’s authority to conduct “targeted killings of Americans in counter-terrorism operations.”

    ...

    Wyden said that the tussle between the committee and White House over disclosing documents had been “pretty spirited.” He said that he would press the administration to declassify key documents related to the use of drones and would ask tough questions both in public and private.

    ...

    Republican Senator Rand Paul, a White House critic who is not an intelligence committee member, on Tuesday released a letter he received from Attorney General Eric Holder in which Holder said the administration had “not carried out drone strikes in the United States and has no intention of doing so.” However, Holder added that it was “possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate ... for the president to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States.”

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  4. Maybe some of you who are so willing to abandon due process ought to actually listen to what Rand Paul is saying. There are fundamental rights at stake, and the Obama administration is boldly going where no President has EVER gone before, or should go. We should all be very alarmed, and very vigilant in the protections afforded us in the Constitution: due process under law, the right to confront one’s accuser, and so much more.

    For heaven’s sake, try to take off your partisan hats and THINK about what this administration is proposing with their SECRET drone policy. Paul has since been joined by Republican Sens. Mike Lee, Ted Cruz , Jerry Moran, Marco Rubio, Saxby Chambliss and Pat Toomey. He has also gotten some bipartisan support from Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.).

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  5. Rufus doesn’t do Constitution.

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    Replies
    1. Yes he does; he, also, does "history," and "reading."

      However, Holder added that it was “possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate ... for the president to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States.”


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    2. We spend a couple of years, and Billions of Dollars Electing the President.

      Then we give him the keys to the Nuclear Football.

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    3. .

      We elect a president not a god.

      .

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    4. The real puzzle is why so many Americans seem happy to trust the president with this power.
      A completely compliant and uninquisitive press corps certainly helps.

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    5. The President, God-like or not, before this one killed over 4,000 Americans in Iraq, and wounded 30,000.

      And, as I pointed out, he ordered a plane carrying 200 Americans shot out of the air on Sept 11, 2001.

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    6. .

      Your, relativist philosophy is ridiculous. You try to defend the actions of one jerk on the left by pointing out he is less bad (quantitatively) than some jerk on the right.

      All you see this is as an attack on Obama.

      That's pathetic.

      .

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  6. The US Senate Intelligence Committee endorsed President Barack Obama’s choice for CIA Director, John Brennan, with a 12-3 vote after the White House agreed to provide lawmakers more information on the legal basis for targeted killings of suspected terrorism-linked Americans abroad.

    ...

    “As a result, the detailed legal rules for a vast majority of drone strikes, including so-called signature strikes aimed at suspected militants whose names are unknown to the people targeting them, remain secret even from the Congressional intelligence committees,” commented the New York Times.

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  7. I find it interesting that many have little problem with the POTUS killing folk at will (even with drones) but they get their panties in a twist when the folk who might get killed are Americans.

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    Replies
    1. At least three posters here do not seem to make the distinction.

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  8. This is making Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid very unhappy.

    “At a time when America faces so many threats abroad, it is crucial that we have a talented and dedicated individual like John Brennan leading our nation’s most prominent intelligence agency,” Reid told reporters Tuesday. “Yet, Republicans again and again interject politics into the confirmation process.”


    Brennan will almost certainly be confirmed. But the debate over drones, like the partisan warfare within the legislature, is unlikely to subside any time soon.

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    Replies
    1. .

      Dirty Harry says drop the politics (and the Constitution) and let's get on with business.

      .

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  9. On this day in 1912, Nabisco first introduced the Oreo cookie.

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  10. Rand and Cruz are still at it. Right on!

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, "friends of Hamas" Rand, and "North Korean Money" Cruz - there's a pair to draw to.

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    2. The Senate channels "looney-tunes."

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  11. G Washington, A Jackson and A Lincoln all targeted US residents at some point in their tenure, to "Protect? The nation.

    The President has the authority.
    Always has, at least since G Washington marched upon PA.

    You may nnot like it, but there is historical and legal precedent.

    The Constitutkion is not a suicide act.

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    Replies
    1. Private hired killers.

      That's the American Way according to those that are the real killers.

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    2. .

      You like Rufus argue precedent. You try to argue the undefensible by citing legalisms. No doubt that is the same argument used by Mao, Stalin, Ghengis Khan, back to Scilla and even before.

      At least, in the examples you cite, the actions were taken in the light of day and could be challenged in court, not as today, by some secret cabal or some 'informed' high-official whose thoughts or rationale are never made public or admitted to even exist. If you want a correct precedent, we have seen the current administration's policies reflected in the universally condemned 'disappearances' in South America during the eighties.

      You argue voting for libertarians but you haven't a clue as to what they believe on core values.

      You pretend you are cynical towards government yet you buy into anything they feed you.

      .

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    3. No, Q it's not that I "Buy in", as much as I understand it. It is posted, up thread, thatt no President has ever acted as Obama is. As if he were breaking new ground, he is not.

      I do not pretend to be cynical.
      I do not pretend that the government we have today is any worse than that we've had in the past.

      Indeed the government is more transparent toda than in the past. What they are doing, well known to anyone that cares.

      Few do.
      Never have been many who cared.

      You're along for the ride, like the rest of US

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    4. .

      The word transparancy has a number of different definitions. You are confusing 'obvious' with 'candid, frank, or open'.

      While I agree that what the Obama administration is doing is obvious to anyone who takes the trouble to look, to describe this administration as 'transparent' in terms of open, candid, or frank is ludicrous. 'Obvious' isn't sufficient to give anyone standing in court.

      This administration subtley manipulate and threaten reporters. In four brief years, they have gone after three to four times the number of whistleblowers than all previous presidents combined. They are perfectly willing to take any positive press they might get for taking out top al-Queda leaders; yet, they are unwilling to officially admit they launched the attacks lest they be forced to defend their legality or constitutionality in court.

      The last thing this administration wants is transparancy. They fight it at every turn. When applied to these guys, the term 'transparant' is an oxymoron.

      .

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  12. Consider:
    1. enemy combatants vs U.S. citizens
    2. imminent threats and no other satisfactory response

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    1. Just find those you can hire as black ops.

      No laws if you are not caught, no rules for them.

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    2. .

      Rat, if you believe the bull you are being fed by the powers that be, you are too simple to argue with.

      We've seen the quality of the info pulled together by the CIA in the past. We've seen the mistakes made by the government in their rendition program. We've seen the innocents killed but not admitted to. Occam's razor suggests that when you have a bloated bureaucracy as we do now with intelligence you are going to have to 'make-work' even if it's 'wet-work' just to justify your job.

      And you suggest, 'No laws if you are not caught, no rules for them'.

      That goes beyond idiotic into the realm of sociopathic.

      2. imminent threats and no other satisfactory response

      You should be writing scripts for tv shows. Jack Bauer lives.

      The average American has multiple more chances of being killed by lightning than in a terrorist attack.

      You represent the sheeple Jenny mentioned above. So frightened by the risks the government tells you exist from terrorism you are willing to give up not only civil rights but human rights just so long as the government says "Trust us, we will protect you."

      One innocent life taken by mistake is worth more than all of you put together. You make me want to puke.

      .




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    3. Q, aren't you the one that is always babbling about "teaching" critical thinking? Let's look at the quote (from Holder, not Obama) in question.

      It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate ... for the president to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States.”

      Perhaps, an "extraordinary circumstance" such as Dubya faced on Sept. 11, 2001?

      Delete
    4. President of the United States is an Office with enormous responsibilities, and we, in turn, vest in that individual extraordinary powers. We hand him the Nuclear football, and all that that entails. We give him the power to invade foreign countries on a snap decision. We give him the authority to engage in all manner of "covert" operations inside, and against, other countries.

      His most Primary of all responsibilities is the safety, and well-being of the American people. We tend to give him great leeway in accomplishing this mission.

      You can get your panties in a wad all you want because he's a black man that you don't like, but he's still the President, and his job description and duties are the same as all those Presidents that came before.

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    5. In other words, Q, you are a racist and its all GWB's fault.

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    6. I didn't say anything was "GWB's fault."

      I said that I don't remember anyone disagreeing with his decision to take down that plane.

      My point is that on those really tough calls, the "buck" really does stop on the desk of the President. And, some of those calls are really, really tough.

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    7. For example, I just saw a headline to the effect that North Korea is threatening a Nuclear Strike against the U.S.

      You're the President; Now what?

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    8. But you did accuse Q of racism, which has often been your response to anyone who criticizes your beloved Obama. Must be some kind of Huffpo mantra.

      I make it a practice not to respond to threats.

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    9. .

      His most Primary of all responsibilities is the safety, and well-being of the American people.

      You are wrong. Read the Constitution. His primary responsibility, the one he swears to uphold, is to the laws and Constitution of the U.S.

      That you don't see the difference with taking actions in the full light of day as with the plane and the current targeted killing regime conducted in secret on questionable Constitutional grounds with no checks and balances on the executive is troubling. That you would accept the government's 'Trust Us, This is for Your Own Good" stretches credulity.

      .

      .

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    10. .

      For example, I just saw a headline to the effect that North Korea is threatening a Nuclear Strike against the U.S.

      You're the President; Now what?



      And still you don't see the difference. Like Bob before you I must say its useless to argue with you. We are two different cats.

      As they say it is impossible to win an argument with a fool. Since that can be read either way, I likely won't get called for an ad hominem.

      In the future, I will just concentrate on improving my haiku.

      .


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    11. .

      Not to worry Gag, Rufus wallows in his liberal leanings. When you become a liberal, they present you with a race card instead of a membership card, something to whip out when you run out of logical arguments.

      To most it is disgusting, yet to one's liberal friends, it is a badge of honor.

      .

      Delete
  13. Where are the progressives, liberals, democrats and those concerned about civil rights? The basic civil right is to not be attacked or killed by your own government.

    The morning after spearheading an hours-long, old-fashioned congressional filibuster that lasted well into the night, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., expressed gratitude to his fellow lawmakers for their "outpouring of support," and continued pushing for increased access to information about the nation's controversial drone policy.

    Paul, who held court on the Senate floor for nearly 13 hours without a single bathroom break, said he was "amazed" by the encouragement from his fellow Republican lawmakers - and even a stray Democrat.

    "We probably had 15 congressmen come over to the Senate floor," he said this morning in a radio interview with Glenn Beck. Paul pointed out that House members are allowed to come to the Senate floor but are barred from speaking or coming forward, so they were presumably there just to lend support with their presence. "I've never seen that happen before. And they came spontaneously. Nobody called them. They just showed up.”

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  14. Replies
    1. The interesting thing is that Brennan wants the Drone Program moved to the Military where, by law, there would be much more transparency. Obama must agree, because he is the one doing the "Promoting."

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    2. Rand Paul’s filibuster against Brennan' nomination to CIA Director on the basis of the erosion of Americans' civil liberties is admirable but just a tip of the iceberg.

      The Senator should filibuster the USA PATRIOT Act next time it comes up for re-authorization. The USA PATRIOT Act is the root cause of immense power grab by the Executive branch.

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  15. Sheeple? Idiots. Giving up rights and property, liberty and life to professional politicians. Going to war for the like of Barack Obama, George Bush or for a barely elected foreign career politician.

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  16. Rand needs to learn how to defer by the genius wing of the Republican Party

    Sen. Rand Paul’s filibuster didn’t thrill all of his colleagues.
    Almost exactly 24 hours after Mr. Paul began his information-seeking filibuster against John O. Brennan, Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham took to the Senate floor to denounce his demands and say he was doing a “disservice” to the debate on drones.
    SEE RELATED: No more food fight: Obama’s dinner-lunch combo revives dormant food diplomacy
    “The country needs more senators who care about liberty, but if Mr. Paul wants to be taken seriously he needs to do more than pull political stunts that fire up impressionable libertarian kids in their college dorms. He needs to know what he’s talking about,” said Mr. McCain, Republicans’ presidential nominee in 2008 — who topped Mr. Paul’s father, former Rep. Ron Paul, in that year’s primary.



    Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/blog/inside-politics/2013/mar/7/graham-mccain-blast-paul-filibuster/#ixzz2MsiTQQeQ
    Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

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  17. Housing seems to be trying to come back from the dead, the ISMs have been looking up, the ADP Report was strong, and, this morning, the unemployment claims data came in at 340,000, following a 347,000 number (revised) from last week.

    Jobless Claims

    If, somehow, we could just wrestle that unemployment rate down into the low sixes, or even "fives," we might wake up and realize that that "deficit" problem has mostly gone walkabout.

    ReplyDelete
  18. In addition, the rebound in wealth has benefited mostly wealthier Americans. The Dow Jones industrial average has just set a record high, and roughly 80 percent of stocks are held by the wealthiest 10 percent of households.

    For most Americans, home equity is their largest source of wealth, and national home values remain about 30 percent below their peak.


    Household Wealth is recovered - at least for the wealth

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    Replies
    1. Good time to pass a minimum wage bill, I think.

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    2. There is an obvious benefit to increasing wages and household income, but simply increasing the minimum wage does not seem to work if it shifts jobs to foreign manufacturers, illegal immigrants and increase welfare rolls.

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    3. There needs to be a mechanism that increases the spread between welfare transfer payments and minimum wages.

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    4. That tis the problem, tisn't it? :)

      The "good news" is, there hasn't been much of a correlation found between increasing the minimum wage, and any rise in unemployment.

      Delete
    5. What is the point of increasing the minimum wage while decreasing the spread between take-home pay and net welfare benefits?

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    6. Common sense, however, has to tell you that at some point you run into two problems:

      (1) China

      (2) Automation


      But, again, the "good news" is that most jobs that are actually affected by the minimum wage are not the types of jobs that Can be out-sourced.

      For ex. Almost All manufacturing jobs already pay more than the new minimum wage.

      Delete
    7. I believe an increase in the minimum wage Would significantly raise the difference between welfare benefits, and minimum wage income.

      (most conservatives, I think, greatly overestimate the amount that's available through "cash" welfare programs - primarily TANF.)

      Delete
  19. Household wealth in the U.S. climbed in the fourth quarter to the highest level in five years, propelled by a gain in home prices that is helping repair family finances.

    Net worth for households and non-profit groups increased by $1.17 trillion from October through December, or 1.8 percent from the previous three months, to $66.1 trillion, the Federal Reserve said today from Washington in its flow of funds report. It was the highest since the fourth quarter of 2007.

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  20. The head of the Senate Armed Services Committee announced Thursday he won't seek re-election in 2014, saying he wants to concentrate on committee work and helping his home state of Michigan.

    Sen. Carl Levin, 78 years old...

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  21. The tighter controls come after Pyongyang defied existing sanctions to conduct a nuclear test on 12 February. The explosion was timed to provoke the US, coming just hours before President Obama made his annual State of the Union Address to the US Congress.

    “Provocations... will only isolate [North Korea] further, as we stand by our allies, strengthen our own missile defence, and lead the world in taking firm action in response to these threats,” Mr Obama said in the speech at the time.

    The UN resolution ban on specific luxury items is intended to close a loophole that previously allowed countries to decide for themselves what constitutes luxury goods. “The strength, breadth and severity of these sanctions will raise the cost to North Korea of its illicit nuclear program and further constrain its ability to finance and source materials and technology for its ballistic missile, conventional and nuclear weapons program,” said Ms Rice.

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  22. A Peoria Police Department inquiry of a January traffic checkpoint that virtually shut down Grand Avenue and angered many in the immigrant community was turned over to the internal-affairs department for further investigation, a police official said.

    ...

    The incident sparked anger from members of the immigrant-rights community, who said it was a de facto immigration checkpoint.

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  23. "I've never really wanted to go to Japan. Simply because I don’t like eating fish. And I know that's very popular out there in Africa."

    - Britney Spears

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  24. In January, a 75-year-old Japanese man called an ambulance after suffering from breathing problems. Instead of being saved, he died after 25 hospitals rejected him 36 times during a two-hour drive to find a doctor who would treat him, Agence France-Presse reported.

    ...

    Ironically, experts say, part of the problem lies in Japan’s low-cost healthcare system. According to the Washington Post, a hospital visit costs half as much in Japan as it does in the U.S. thanks to government subsidies — but as a result, emergency rooms are often flooded with patients seeking routine treatments.

    Problematically, there are no laws punishing hospitals for turning away sick people or penalties for patients who overuse the system.

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  25. The Judiciary Committee is meeting today to mark-up the various civilian disarmament bills before the Senate. One of the bills in the frame: Senator Feinstein’s ”Assault Weapons Ban.”

    ...

    Here’s her exact words:

    THE PROBLEM WITH EXPANDING THIS IS THAT, YOU KNOW, WITH THE ADVENT OF PTSD, WHICH I THINK IS A NEW PHENOMENON AS A PRODUCT OF THE IRAQ WAR, IT’S NOT CLEAR HOW THE SELLER OR TRANSFER OF A FIREARM COVERED BY THIS BILL WOULD VERIFY THAT AN INDIVIDUAL WAS A MEMBER OR VETERAN AND THERE WAS NO IMPAIRMENT OF THAT INDIVIDUAL WITH RESPECT TO HAVING A WEAPON LIKE THIS.

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  26. A Ukip MEP has been found to have misused taxpayer-funded allowances following a crackdown by Olaf, Europe's anti-fraud watchdog. Derek Clark, an MEP for the East Midlands, had successfully applied for money from the EU to pay for two assistants in 2004 and 2005.

    But instead of working for Clark, the inquiry found they worked almost exclusively for Ukip from Britain.

    Clark, who has given more than £190,000 to the party in the past 10 years, said last year that he began paying political workers with EU money only after being asked to do so by an adviser to the party, whom he refused to name.

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  27. On this day in 1876, Alexander Graham Bell was granted a patent for the telephone.

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  28. Being a liberal is akin to betting the "no pass" line in craps. It's just fucking weird.

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  29. So Obama caved to Rand Paul. The liberals, progressives and Dems were no-shows and the Republican establishment harumphed. : )

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  31. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  32. .

    the boy turned on the radio,

    an informed ghost declared him guilty,

    the sheep said, "stuff happens".

    .

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