Only Congress could do something like this. All eyes are on the fiscal-cliff negotiations to trim the $1 trillion-plus budget deficit. Running alongside but largely out of public view is a $60.4 billion emergency spending bill to provide relief to the victims of superstorm Sandy. Trouble is, the "Sandy" bill is laden with billions of dollars of spending stowaways wholly unrelated to the hurricane. Did anyone really think earmarks would stay buried? There´s $150 million in there for Alaskan fisheries. We knew Sandy made it to the Midwest, but Alaska? Marine projects
Three-time U.S. Olympian Suzy Favor Hamilton admitted to working as a Las Vegas escort for the past year, reportedly offering her services as recently as Dec. 5 in a secret life that she said only her husband had known about until now, TheSmokingGun.com first reported on Thursday. Favor Hamilton, 44, who also runs a real estate brokerage firm in Wisconsin with her husband, was once featured in a Nike television commercial, a swimsuit calendar and had more recently been involved in promotional work with Disney. Her work as a call girl had allegedly taken her
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals wants to take the gun control debate to a whole new level: banning hunting. Claiming hunting desensitizes children to killing humans, the group plans to make their case Friday by crashing the National Rifle Association´s press conference downtown at the Willard Hotel where they are expected to cite some form of gun ownership and sales changes they would support. PETA officials told Secrets that they will be protesting at the hotel with signs that read "Teach Kindness, Not Killing," and "Get ALL living beings out of the crosshairs: Ban Hunting."
In the darkness before dawn Friday, spiritualists prepared white clothes, drums, conch shells and incense ahead of the sunrise they believe will herald the birth of a new and better age as a vast, 5,125-year cycle in the Mayan calendar comes to an end. No one was quite sure at what time the Mayas´ 13th Baktun would officially end on this Dec. 21. Some think it already ended at midnight Thursday. Others looked to Friday´s dawn here in the Maya heartland. Some had later times in mind.
IT IS REMARKABLE how confident so many people are that they know what causes – and just how to prevent – horrific massacres like Friday´s bloodbath at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. In a TV interview over the weekend, one observer insisted that the mass-murder in Newtown was all too predictable, given America´s failure to implement an obvious and desperately overdue reform. "Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?" this individual demanded, showing no hint of uncertainty about exactly what needs to be fixed. Who was that? Was it Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel,
Boston’s NPR: WBUR poll of 500 registered voters finds U.S. Sen. Scott Brown is in a strong position should there be a special election to fill U.S. Sen. John Kerry’s seat. MassINC pollster Steve Koczela looked at how well Brown would fare against four current or former Democratic members of Congress. “We matched him up theoretically against (U.S. Reps.) Ed Markey, Mike Capuano, Steve Lynch and (former U.S. Rep.) Marty Meehan, and in each one of those cases, he led by between 17 and 19 points,” Koczela said. Dang.
You may recall that during the presidential election, the Treasury Department refused requests by General Motors to unload the government´s stake in the giant automaker. Taxpayers had sunk $50 billion into a union bailout in 2009 and were now proud owners of 26.5 percent of the struggling company. Reportedly, GM had growing concerns that the stigma of "Government Motors" was hurting sales in the United States. At the time, any transaction would have come at a steep loss to taxpayers and undermined the president´s questionable campaign assertions that the auto union rescue had been a huge success.
PHILADELPHIA - Nine-month-old girls who were formerly conjoined twins are making their public debut at the Philadelphia hospital where they were separated. Allison June and Amelia Lee Tucker and their parents were introduced at Children´s Hospital of Philadelphia on Thursday. Pediatric surgeon Dr. Holly Hedrick says Allison is the smaller but tougher twin. Amelia is the larger twin but she´s still in intensive care for now.Surgeons separated the Tucker girls during a seven-hour operation in November. The infants had been joined at the lower chest and abdomen. They shared a chest wall, diaphragm, pericardium and liver.
“There were giants in the earth in those days.” The death on December 19 of Robert Bork—superb legal scholar, preeminent constitutional thinker, principled public servant—calls to mind the other giants of American conservatism who have left us in the last decade: Bill Buckley and Irving Kristol, Milton Friedman and James Q. Wilson, Richard John Neuhaus and Jeane Kirkpatrick, Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. They were the greatest conservative generation. They rode into the valley of liberal orthodoxies and emerged sometimes triumphant, always unbowed. When can their glory fade? They left our nation stronger and better for their efforts.
The defeat of his Plan B — Republicans pulled it when it became clear it would be voted down — is a big defeat for Speaker of the House John Boehner. It demonstrates definitively that there is no fiscal cliff deal that can pass the House on Republican votes alone. Boehner could not even muster the votes to pass something that would only allow tax rates on those making more than $1 million to go up. Boehner’s Plan B ran into opposition from conservative and tea party groups -including Heritage Action, Freedom Works and the Club for Growth –
In August 2011, five months after Syria erupted into violence over government repression, President Obama declared that Bashar Assad should resign from office. Though Obama didn’t use the words “regime change,” he was effectively making that the goal of U.S. policy. Sixteen months have passed since the president issued his statement. Over that period, the United States did very little to strengthen the relatively moderate, pro-Western Syrian rebels who are competing for arms and influence with extremist, anti-Western rebels tied to al-Qaeda. Instead, the Obama administration relied on the United Nations to broker a diplomatic solution.
The Free Beacon, which has been leading the charge online against his appointment, heard from a source on the Hill yesterday that Hagel might no longer be a frontrunner. Now this, from the AP: [O]pposition was growing among Senate Republicans who held their weekly, closed-door meeting on Wednesday. (Snip)Rubio, who’s positioning himself as heir to McCain as leader of the Senate superhawks, is threatening to put a hold on Hagel’s nomination over his opposition to the embargo on Cuba. Kelly Ayotte, who’ll soon succeed Joe Lieberman as the “third amigo” in the McCain/Graham/Lieberman partnership on defense issues,
THERE was Roger Daltrey, 68, with his open shirt revealing a Palm Beach perma-tan, and abs so snare-tight that they immediately raised suspicion. (“Implants!” charged a few skeptical members of the Twittersphere.) There was Jon Bon Jovi, 50, with his flowing mane now a shade of coppery gold that only a hairdresser could love. There was Paul McCartney, 70, with his unlined face retaining an eerie degree of his Beatlemania-era boyishness. Last week’s star-studded “12-12-12” concert — a showcase of retirement-age rock icons like the Rolling Stones, the Who and Eric Clapton —
In the summer of 1987, right out of college, I was a summer intern for Senator Joe Biden, who was chairing the Robert Bork confirmation hearings. My contribution to the epic battle was modest: I helped with research for a speech on the history of the confirmation process, in which Biden argued that the Senate had the duty to scrutinize not only the legal qualifications but also the constitutional views of nominees. This was a controversial proposition at the time; today it has been taken to extremes that neither Biden nor Bork, who died today at 85, could have imagined.
Last month, I sentenced Jared Lee Loughner to seven consecutive life terms plus 140 years in federal prison for his shooting rampage in Tucson. That tragedy left six people dead, more than twice that number injured and a community shaken to its core. Loughner deserved his punishment. But during the sentencing, I also questioned the social utility of high-capacity magazines like the one that fed his Glock. And I lamented the expiration of the federal assault weapons ban in 2004, which prohibited the manufacture and importation of certain particularly deadly guns, as well as magazines
It is Dec. 20, 2012 — and citizens of Earth are panicking, consumed by the idea that the world will end Friday, something they say was predicted by Mayan astronomers. Of course, most people are not panicking, and Maya expert David Stuart says no one should. The calendar, he says, has plenty of room to go. In an interview airing on Thursday´s Morning Edition, David Greene asks archaeologist Stuart, who helped translate influential ancient Mayan hieroglyphs in 1996, if he thinks the world will end on Dec. 21. "Absolutely not," is Stuart´s answer, dashing the hopes of students eyeing a three-day weekend,
Friday could be a tense day for markets, as a resolution to the "fiscal cliff" appears less likely in the final trading days of the year. Stock futures fell sharply Thursday evening after House Speaker John Boehner said he failed to mount support for his "Plan B" version of a bill that would raise taxes only on families earning more than $1 million, a plan already opposed by the White House. GOP leaders said the House would not take up any other votes until after Christmas,
John Boehner’s speakership is suddenly “on the ropes,” says at least one outside conservative group after Thursday night’s head-spinning developments that saw the Republican leader scrap a vote on his own plan to avert the year-end “fiscal cliff” because not enough members of his party would support it. “Speaker Boehner said today´s bill would pass. His credibility as a leader has evaporated,” declared Ron Meyer a spokesman for American Majority Action, a Virginia-based group, which has trained thousands of conservative activists and says it predates the tea party movement.
Six House leaders are pressing their demands for documents after a senior Environmental Protection Agency executive confirmed that Administrator Lisa Jackson has used a fake name and a secret email account while doing official business. (Snip) Committee members are concerned that use of secret email accounts and fake names to conduct official business could hide their contents from public access via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The EPA´s Inspector-General announced on Dec. 13 that it has opened an investigation into the use of such email accounts by EPA employees.
Marea, Syria — The plane came in from the southeast late in the afternoon, releasing its weapons in a single pass. Within seconds, scores of finned bomblets struck and exploded on the homes and narrow streets of this small Syrian town. (Snip) Many forms of violence and hardship have befallen Syria’s people as the country’s civil war has escalated this year. But the Syrian government’s attack here on Dec. 12 pointed to one of the war’s irrefutable patterns: the deliberate targeting of civilians by President Bashar al-Assad’s military, in this case with a weapon that is impossible to use precisely.
The chairman and the vice chairman of the State Department Accountability Review Board (ARB) that investigated the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, made dramatically different statements on Wednesday about the duration of those attacks that resulted in the deaths of four Americans. The relevant duration of the event shrunk from "almost eight hours" to "only about 20 or 30 minutes" when a reporter asked this "accountability" team why the U.S. military had not been sent to Benghazi to help that night. During his opening statement at a State Department
Two Republican congressmen called Thursday for a national travel boycott of Mexico until the country releases imprisoned former Marine Jon Hammar, urging "all Americans" to campaign for the war veteran´s freedom by turning off the tap on America´s tourism dollars. The statements from Reps. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., and Duncan Hunter, R-Calif. -- both Marine combat veterans -- came as dozens of lawmakers pressed the Obama administration to more aggressively petition for Hammar´s release. Hammar, who is locked up in a notorious Mexican prison on what
Brody the dog may have reached the end of his days. The Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled that the city of Lino Lakes can destroy the pooch, overturning a state appeals court decision and putting a likely end to a two-year court battle over Brody’s fate. (Snip) Tanick said he and his client were considering an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, but he described the possibility as "remote." Lino Lakes Police Chief John Swenson said Brody had bitten three people without provocation at the veterinarian clinic where he has been housed during Sawh´s appeal. Swenson said those bites were in addition
If liberal American Jews weren’t already dismayed about the fact that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is a shoe-in to be re-elected in next month’s election, the latest political news out of Israel may give them conniption fits. The results of new polls show that Netanyahu’s Likud and its coalition partners are set to exceed the strong governing majority they had in the current Knesset. But the really interesting numbers are those that show that the main party to the right of the Likud—the Habeyit Hayehudi or Jewish Home Party–is on track to be the third largest in the next parliament
RAMALLAH, West Bank -- Weeks ahead of Israeli elections, Palestinian officials are already plotting a series of tough steps against Israel to be taken if, as polls predict, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is re-elected and peace efforts remain stalled. Emboldened by their newly upgraded status at the United Nations, the Palestinians are talking of filing war crimes charges against Israel, staging mass demonstrations in the West Bank, encouraging the international community to impose sanctions, and ending the security cooperation that has helped preserve quiet in recent years.
Moscow - Russian President Vladimir Putin declared Thursday that change was needed in Damascus, further distancing Moscow from Syrian President Bashar Assad in another sign that Assad´s support may be fraying even among his few remaining allies. (Snip) Putin said Russia would not back Assad, long a close ally, "at any price," and he used some of the Kremlin´s strongest language to date indicating that Russia recognized that Assad´s days were numbered. "We are not concerned with the fate of Assad´s regime," Putin told journalists in Moscow. "We understand what is going on, given that the