Sheriff Arpaio Recall Effort Falls Short In Arizona

TUCSON, (UPI) —  Organizers of an effort to have Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio recalled said Thursday their effort fell short.

Respect Arizona and Citizens for a Better Arizona failed to collect the 335,000 valid voter signatures they needed by the 5 p.m. deadline to force a recall election, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Citizens for a Better Arizona President Randy Parraz said the two groups had collected close to 300,000 signatures.

Arpaio, the Maricopa County sheriff who a federal court ruling last week found used racial profiling to crack down on illegal immigration, said in a statement the recall effort failed “because the good people of Maricopa County, whom I’m honored to serve, rejected the wrongheaded idea of overturning an election.”

Parraz said despite the setback the groups were “vindicated” by the court ruling and an attempt would be made to convince the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors not to fund Arpaio’s appeal.

“This fight is not over,” Parraz said.

California Legislature Prepares To Track Ammo Buyers With Forced Background Checks

The California State Senate passed seven gun-control bills Wednesday, tightening the leash on gun owners in a State already entrenched in an ongoing, liberal-led subversion of its residents’ 2nd Amendment powers.

The bills aren’t yet law, since their Senate approval now moves them before the State Assembly. But if they do become law under Governor Jerry Brown, owning firearms in California will almost inevitably become a burden instead of a Constitutionally protected right.

Probably the most outrageous aspect of the new gun grab is SB 53, a bill that will require background checks (and, of course, a registry that tracks who passes and who fails) in order to issue permits to gun owners who plan to buy ammunition. Oh, and they’ll pay $50 to the State.

But the ammo-control bill is just the ugliest of the California gun grab’s many faces:

  • SB 567 will change the definition of certain types of shotgun so that they can be classified as “assault weapons.”
  • SB 374 will ban detachable rifle magazines.
  • SB 396 makes it a crime to own or sell magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.
  • BS 755 will ban former alcoholics and drug addicts from owning a gun — for 10 years.

For a rundown of all the bills the California Senate passed Wednesday, visit the Sacramento Bee’s summary page. For context on how the various bills will affect California gun owners, read the breakdown on

At first glance, about the only defensible piece of legislation that made it through the Senate is a bill requiring all first-time gun buyers to take a firearm safety class and earn a certificate demonstrating they’ve passed the course. Then again, a strict interpretation of the 2nd Amendment’s provision that the right to bear arms “shall not be infringed” would seem to exclude it.

But nuances like that matter little in the face of such a multifaceted attack on gun owners. As far gone as the California gun grab is, no one’s preoccupied with the least offensive bill among a glut of stinkers.

It’s Time To Fire Eric Holder

Did the Attorney General of the United States commit perjury when he appeared before the House Judiciary Committee two weeks ago? It sure looks like it.

Eric Holder was testifying about the growing scandal over the Justice Department’s seizure of telephone records of some Associated Press reporters and editors. Representative Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), one of the committee members, asked him if the Justice Department thought it could use the Espionage Act of 1917 to prosecute reporters.

Holder offered what appeared to be a straightforward reply. He said, “In regard to potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material — this is not something I’ve ever been involved in, heard of, or would think would be wise policy.”

Ah, but we later learned that is precisely what Holder’s agency had done against James Rosen, a reporter for FOX News. The Justice Department warrant authorizing the seizure of Rosen’s emails declared that there was “probable cause” to believe the reporter violated the Espionage Act “at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator.”

Based on this extraordinary accusation, a Federal judge agreed to the Justice Department’s request for a secret search warrant for Rosen’s private Gmail account. And guess what? The person who signed the Justice Department affidavit making those allegations was none other than the head man himself, Holder.

And while some of Holder’s defenders claim that he had just scribbled his signature on a whole bunch of papers his staff put in front of him, apparently this isn’t true either. Several reports say that he “carefully vetted” the Rosen paperwork.

It appears that the top boss at Justice knew exactly what he was doing when he ordered the surreptitious search of a reporter’s emails. So much for Holder’s claim that this is “not something I’ve ever been involved in.” As Desi Arnaz used to say to Lucille Ball, the Attorney General has “got some ’splainin’ to do.”

Of course, this was also the case three years ago, when Congress tried to find out what went wrong in Operation Fast and Furious. You’ll recall that this was a botched effort by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to trace how weapons went from the United States to Mexican drug cartels. Some 2,000 firearms went missing from the program. One of those weapons subsequently was used in Arizona to kill U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian A. Terry.

Congressional investigators looking into the fiasco asked Holder to give them certain documents relating to the Fast and Furious program, since ATF is a part of the Justice Department. When he refused, they served him with a subpoena demanding them. President Barack Obama then asserted executive privilege, and the Administration refused to surrender them.

As a result, the House of Representatives voted to hold the Attorney General in contempt of Congress. To no one’s surprise, the Justice Department refused to prosecute the case.

The Administration was able to protect its guy back then. But even many Democrats are starting to question Holder’s veracity now. Representative John Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, says he is “deeply troubled” by some of the Justice Department’s actions. But he’s willing to give Holder the benefit of the doubt… at least for now.

“Certainly, it is fair to ask additional questions about the Rosen investigation, and any role the attorney general may have played in it,” Conyers said in a statement. Then he added, “[B]ut I do not believe it credible to level charges that he may have intentionally misled the committee on this matter before we know the facts of the case in question.”

So what will the facts ultimately reveal? Did the Attorney General perjure himself this time around? Representative Peter King (R-N.Y.) is one of many people who seem to think so. He said, “There’ve been other people over the years indicted for perjury or tried for perjury on a lot less evidence than that.”

The House Judiciary Committee has sent Holder a letter, asking him to explain the apparent discrepancy between his actions against Rosen and what he told the committee when he testified under oath on May 15. Representative Robert W. Goodlatte (R-Va.), the committee chairman, said, “We will withhold judgment on what the attorney general’s actions constitute until we give an opportunity for him to explain himself.”

Even Obama said a couple of days ago that he is “troubled” about these apparent assaults on the freedom of the press by the Justice Department. But, hey, not to worry: He is going to ask Holder to investigate matters and report back to him.

In other words, the President will ask the fox to look into what’s been happening in the chicken coop. That should make everyone feel better, shouldn’t it?

One liberal law professor has had enough. In a powerful column in USA Today, Jonathan Turley, the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University, said that a hallmark of Holder’s service as attorney general has been his unquestioned loyalty to Obama:

“When the president promised CIA employees early in his first term that they would not be investigated for torture, it was the attorney general who shielded officials from prosecution.

“When the Obama Administration decided it would expand secret and warrantless surveillance, it was Holder who justified it.

“When the president wanted the authority to kill any American he deemed a threat without charge or trial, it was Holder who went public to announce the ‘kill list’ policy.”

But now, Turley says, the Justice Department has gone too far. “The attorney general has done little in his tenure to protect civil liberties or the free press,” the law professor wrote. “Rather, Holder has supervised a comprehensive erosion of privacy rights, press freedom and due process.”

Turley says the Justice Department’s sweeping surveillance of journalists represents “the greatest attack on the free press in decades.” And he has had enough. “I am neither a Republican nor conservative,” he declared, “and I believe Holder should be fired.”

Right now, the Attorney General is scrambling to protect himself. While he claims that the Justice Department hasn’t violated any laws or guidelines, he admits that the rules “need to be updated.” And he called the controversy “an opportunity for the department to consider how we strike the right balance between the interests of law enforcement and freedom of the press.”

Nice try, Holder, but it won’t work. Better dust off your resume and start exploring opportunities in the private sector, as the soon-to-be-departed like to say. Looks like we can color you gone. And it’s about time.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Survey: Strong Bipartisan Demand From American Voters For Independent IRS Prosecutor

A survey published Thursday by Quinnipiac University in Connecticut shows that 75 percent of Americans want a special prosecutor to investigate the targeting of Tea Party conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) during the re-election campaign of President Barack Obama.

The nationwide survey, which polled 1,419 registered voters, also revealed outrage over the IRS scandal is largely bipartisan, with 63 percent of registered Democrats calling for a special prosecutor. Among Republicans, it’s 88 percent.

“There is overwhelming bipartisan support for a special prosecutor to investigate the IRS,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “Voters apparently don’t like the idea of Attorney General Eric Holder investigating the matter himself, perhaps because they don’t exactly think highly of him. Holder gets a negative 23 – 39 percent job approval rating.”

The IRS scandal also seems to draw the most attention from voters angry over the Administration’s apparent role in multiple scandals. The IRS’s systematic political discrimination was named by 44 percent of respondents as the Administration’s top-priority scandal, followed by Benghazi (24 percent) and the secret subpoena of Associate Press reporters’ phone records (15 percent).

The abuse of public trust emanating from the Obama Administration hasn’t just soured bipartisan perception of today’s White House; it’s also affected voters’ overall belief in the integrity of government as a whole:

Only 3 percent of voters trust the federal government to do the right thing almost all the time, while 12 percent say they trust it most of the time; 47 percent say some of the time and 36 percent hardly ever. That compares to results of a Quinnipiac University poll in July 2010, four months before the Republican sweep that year on the back of anti-government sentiment, when 2 percent said almost always, 16 percent said most of the time; 50 percent said some of the time and 31 percent said hardly ever.

“All of these investigations may be having a negative effect on voters’ willingness to trust the federal do the right thing,” said Brown.

As for Obama himself, things aren’t good. The President was judged “honest and trustworthy” by 49 percent of voters, with 47 percent deeming him the opposite. That’s a big slide from the last time voters were polled on the same question. Back in September of 2011, 58 percent believed the President was honest and trustworthy, with only 37 percent disagreeing at the time.

See the complete survey here.

Milk Fascists Take One On The Chin

A Sauk County, Wis., jury kicked the State’s dairy lobby and fascist agriculture agency in the chin last week when it acquitted dairy farmer Vernon Hershberger on three charges of producing milk without a license.

Hershberger has been persecuted for four years by the State, working at the behest of the Wisconsin Dairy Products Association, for the “crime” of selling his raw milk and other dairy products to his friends and neighbors who had bought a piece of his farm as part of a buying club. The ruling means he can continue to sell his products to members of the club.

He was found guilty on the lone count of breaking a holding order issued by the State in June 2010 that barred him from moving any of the food he produced without a license. The shame is the jury didn’t nullify that count against him as well. He faces as long as a year in jail and a $10,000 fine for the one guilty count.

“This is a huge win for food rights,” Liz Reitzig told The Wall Street Journal. Reitzig is a founder of Farm Food Freedom Coalition, a group advocating for greater consumer access to natural, unprocessed food. The case “should give small farmers renewed courage to continue to operate within their communities.”

According the Food and Drug Administration, raw milk can be sold for human consumption in only 30 States. Wisconsin isn’t one of them. And it is a crime in the United States to sell it across State lines. A statement from the Wisconsin Safe Milk Coalition’s mouthpiece made after the trial explains why it’s a crime. “We strongly urge lawmakers to keep it illegal to sell raw milk in Wisconsin to protect the state’s $27 billion dairy industry…,” Shawn Pfaff said.

The FDA, which approves drugs that sicken and kill thousands of people each day, claims raw milk is dangerous because it contains “harmful microorganisms.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims that from 1993 to 2006 1,500 people in the United States became sick from drinking raw milk or eating cheese made from raw milk. Hmm. That’s a whopping 115 people per year. Meanwhile, FDA-approved drugs kill 274 people (according to the agency’s own statistics) every day.

Pasteurized milk is dead food. The pasteurization process converts a healthy food to a synthetic non-food substance under the pretense of purity, cleanliness and shelf life and changes it from a potent non-allergenic food (one that helps to build natural immunity to allergies) to one that is allergenic. The good bacteria in raw milk is killed and destroyed as is the all-important bone-forming enzyme alkaline phosphatase. The result is a substance sold as milk but that resembles cow’s milk only in color.

Hershberger’s lead attorney in the case, Glen Reynolds, said: “This is as close to Prohibition as anything I have ever seen, but this time it’s milk and an Amish farmer rather than liquor and gangsters.” The prohibition against raw milk should go the way of liquor prohibition.

The Hypocrisy Of Justice As A System

Ah, the justice system — a murky, corrupt monstrosity that feeds itself with fines and fees, preying on the very people it is supposed to protect. Growing beyond the protection of the innocent to the pursuit of its own interest, the justice system, along with the Bar (together known as the legal system), generate an exorbitant amount of revenue each year. Do you really think they want to give that up for the of sake justice?

Certainly not, at least not willingly.

The Constitution laid the ground work for our republic to be a land governed by laws, above “men” (humans). Unfortunately, the amount of laws has grown so vast and their content so all-encompassing that it is virtually impossible to count them all, let alone understand each one. Thus, we have relied heavily upon a system of men who dispense, interpret, alter and impose laws, and still more men who defend us when we are faced with having broken the law. The system, now more about the men and less about the law, is so muddled that it could literally say or do anything (and often does), all to the benefit of the system of men involved.

We, as the people, have let all aspects of our justice system grow well beyond its means and are now reaping what we have sown. But when we are faced with incarceration, it’s hard not to buy into this very system with hope in our hearts that justice is what it’s all about.

However, there are other ways to fight the system, to defend yourself against false and/or malicious charges. Like Edward Snook outlined in his article Media in Criminal Cases, the best fight against the system is one fought in a spotlight. Corruption can’t stand the light; corrupted people’s only fear is exposure.

Together, as the people, we need to make a stand. We have to make justice the focus of the system, and perhaps that might just take throwing out all our laws and replacing them with simple, straightforward ones that leave no room for interpretation. Accomplishing this is easier said than done, however. If we don’t unite as a people and get rid of all the victimless crime statutes and abusive administrative rules that are drowning our Nation, we will all pay — many of us personally and all of us financially.

Just as much as any law that violates the Constitution is repugnant, so should be any system that steals justice just to turn a profit by practicing “law” or enforcing “law.”

–Ron Lee

MSM Outlets Reject Holder’s Attempt To Control Agenda On Reining In DOJ With ‘Off-Record’ Talks

FOX News, The New York Times, The Associated Press, CBS News, CNN and The Huffington Post all have told Attorney General Eric Holder he can forget about trying to control a dialogue between government and the press, citing an obvious principle that the U.S. Department of Justice has continued to ignore: the media’s power to go about its job without first agreeing to silent and hidden ground rules with that very government on which it purports, at least in theory, to shine a light.

Holder’s farcical proposition — which essentially asks mainstream media outlets with bureaus in Washington, D.C., to join him in off-record discussions over how he can go about investigating himself in the wake of illegal media snooping scandals involving FOX News and The AP — has rightly hit a sour note with nearly all takers. The talks, which will still go on with the few news outfits (ABC, POLITICO) who’ve said “yes,” are set to take place Thursday and Friday.

“We will not be attending the session at DOJ,” The New York Times said flatly. “It isn’t appropriate for us to attend an off the record meeting with the attorney general. Our Washington bureau is aggressively covering the department’s handling of leak investigations at this time.”

FOX News began its own story on the absurd closed-door talks Thursday by simply stating, “Michael Clemente, Fox News‘ executive vice president, decided that Fox News will not attend the off-record talks.”

The Huffington Post also offered a terse rejoinder as part of a larger story: “The Huffington Post’s Washington bureau chief, Ryan Grim, also said the news site would decline an off-the-record meeting.”

And so on with CNN, CBS News and all the rest. It was a nice “I’m Spartacus” moment of open revolt for a mostly liberal press whose influence over Americans’ political opinions continues to decline.

There’s a facile irony to the mainstream media’s newfound indignance over the Barack Obama Administration’s ongoing condescension. It’s not the condescension that’s new; indeed, no President has enjoyed such a malleable and feeble press presence at White House briefings as have Obama and his simpering, petulant press secretary, Jay Carney. And on those pre-scandal occasions when the mainstream press had broken out of its Stockholm-syndrome thrall long enough to complain, it focused on ridiculous tabloid slights like Obama’s media-shunning golf outing with Tiger Woods.

Now that they’ve no choice but to be outraged and now that they’ve been directly targeted by a Presidential Administration that grew a little too comfortable with its clockwork ability to shepherd the White House press corps, the MSM has found religion.

Better late than never. Something still smells about the way the Obama Administration is trying to countenance these scandals — by doggedly attempting to set the terms of how they’ll be talked about, reported on and investigated — and at least a few in the press are starting to wise up in ways that regular Americans can begin to appreciate.

“Obama’s team still doesn’t get it,” wrote National Journal’s Ron Fournier Thursday. “One wonders why the media would trust Holder’s motive given how the administration has conducted itself so far. The most recent case in point: When The New York Times and AP announced that they would not meet with Holder ‘off the record,’ Democratic Party spokesman Brad Woodhouse tweeted that the decision ‘kind of forfeits your right to gripe.’ Well, no — it doesn’t. Woodhouse was treating the media like a political opponent: Attack, distort, and deflect. He probably didn’t realize the Orwellian implications of his wisecrack. Even the liberal ACLU took issue with it…

“…Small things matter in the big picture. Obama might want to ask Holder to explain himself at a town-hall meeting. Not with bureau chiefs, but to the public at large. On the damn record.”

Reports: McCain Hung With Terrorists, Kidnappers In Syria

There are a number of theories as to why Senator John McCain (R-Wackobirdland) spent Memorial Day with Syrian rebels, many of whom have possible ties to legitimate terror organizations, instead of America’s finest: He’s a little senile; he really, really can’t wait for more American warring; he’s desperately trying to remain relevant in a changing GOP; and so on.

But one thing is for certain, the Senator opened himself up for a little bit of criticism from anyone who is more interested in carrying his big stick than swinging it wildly and hoping it hits something.

Bob Livingston pointed out earlier in the week that McCain, for simply associating with a Free Syrian Army leader with ties to the terrorist Al-Nursa Front, should have earned himself a cell at Guantanamo Bay.

Livingston writes:

In meeting with Gen. Salem Idris, the leader of the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), McCain met with a man who has aligned himself with Arhar al Sham, a partner of Al-Nusra Front, which the U.S. has designated as a terrorist organization. Just last month al-Qaida in Iraq declared al-Nusra was its branch in Syria. Idris claims his group doesn’t work with Al-Nusra, but the two have fought side by side and shared arms in their battle to overthrow Bashar Assad. Together, the groups, along with the Forouq Brigades and the Syrian Islamic Liberation Front (a coalition of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist groups that have vowed to create an Islamic state in Syria), form the FSA. Even The New York Times has reported that the groups that make up the FSA share Islamist ideals.

It has also been reported by The Daily Star in Lebanon that McCain spent some time with the FSA’s Mohammad Nour and Abu Ibrahim, two men who kidnapped a group of Lebanese visitors to Syria last year.

The 11 Lebanese pilgrims were kidnapped by armed rebels in Azaz, in Syria’s Aleppo province, in May last year as they were making their way back to Lebanon from Iran.

The valiant FSA terrorists freedom fighters, were reportedly spotted in the picture with McCain below — which was widely distributed by the Senator’s handlers — by a victim who has been released and by the families of other kidnap victims.



McCain’s lackeys flatly deny that the Senator met with kidnapping terrorists during his visit.

“In coordination with the Syrian Emergency Task Force, Senator John McCain traveled to and from Syria with General Salim Idris, the chief of staff of the Supreme Military Council of the Syrian opposition, to meet with two senior Free Syrian Army commanders,” said McCain spokesman Brian Rogers on Wednesday in an email to BuzzFeed. “None of the individuals the Senator planned to meet with was named Mohamad Nour or Abu Ibrahim. A number of other Syrian commanders joined the meeting, but none of them identified himself as Mohamad Nour or Abu Ibrahim.

“As the Syrian Emergency Task Force has said: ‘Senator McCain did not go to Syria to meet with anyone named Mohamad Nour or Abu Ibrahim. Two members of our organization were present in the meeting, and no one called himself by either name.’”

But, hey, at least the Senator’s similarly RINO daughter thought his attempt ramp up support for the terroristic rebels in Syria was pretty badass.

Why Cruz Doesn’t Trust Republicans, Obama Has No Business Asking China To RIMPAC, Crime Victim Charged For Using Gun That Saved Him, NRA Honors Kid Who Ate Pop Tart Until It Resembled Gun: Afternoon News Links 5-30-2013

Brush up on the day’s headlines with Personal Liberty’s P.M. Edition news links.

Here’s Why Cruz Doesn’t Trust The Republicans

Last week, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told the Congressional establishment he didn’t trust them, whether Democrat or Republican, with the task of crafting a budget that will force government to spend within its means. His “Let me be clear: I don’t trust the Republicans” retort to Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) has resonated with true fiscal conservatives nationwide since then. Here’s Why: Read more…

Obama Administration Invites China Into Military-To-Military Joint RIMPAC Naval Exercise

The United States is moving forward with plans to include the Chinese navy in next year’s Rim Of The Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise, the largest international warfare exercise in the world. The L.A. Times says U.S. allies should boycott RIMPAC until the U.S. rescinds that invitation, and they’re right. Read more…

Oregon Man Fires Warning Shot At Felon Attempting To Break Into Home, Gets Hauled To Jail

The intended victim of a home invasion in Medford, Ore., was charged with unlawful use of a weapon, reckless endangerment and menacing after he allegedly told the would-be perpetrator, who was attempting to break in through the back door, to get off his property and followed it up by firing a warning shot into the ground. Read more…

Kid Who Ate A Pop Tart Until It Looked Rather Like A Gun Receives Free Lifetime NRA Membership

The National Rifle Association presented 8-year-old Marylander Josh Welch a free lifetime membership, valued at $550, in a lighthearted demonstration of the absurdity of Josh’s school suspension over a gun-shaped pastry. But Welch clearly thinks the whole hoopla over getting in trouble at school for eating a pastry until only the silhouette of a gun remains is just stupid. Read more…

Obama Administration Invites China Into Military-To-Military Joint RIMPAC Naval Exercise

The United States is moving forward with plans to include the Chinese navy in next year’s Rim Of The Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise, the largest international warfare exercise in the world.

China’s never participated in the U.S.-led RIMPAC; in fact, it’s never been invited before. But the Pentagon issued an invitation this year, falling in line with President Barack Obama’s evident desire to mollify military relations with a country whose military leaders have gone on record as hopeful for the day when their own fighting power will present a practicable challenge to that of the United States’.

“Our allies should signal their intent to withdraw from the exercise if China participates. Failing that, the invitation should be withdrawn. RIMPAC is for allies and friends, not nations planning to eventually wage war on the United States,” wrote the Los Angeles Times Thursday. “While the Chinese plan to dominate their waters and eventually ours, we are helping them increase their effectiveness with invitations to RIMPAC and other exercises and by including them in joint operations like the one directed against Somali piracy…There is something very wrong at the core of the Obama administration’s and the Pentagon’s China policies.”

Including a country — one possessed of the hostile military momentum China has long been building — in a strategic exercise intended as practice for warding off hostile military threats is both strategically foolish and tactically suicidal. As it continues to grow, both in fleet size and in technological capability, China’s navy, in particular, is positioning itself to wield tremendous political influence at home, regardless of China’s diminishing dependence on American economic fortunes. Is the President really ready to take China into American confidence to so great an extent?

Oregon Man Fires Warning Shot At Felon Attempting To Break Into Home, Gets Hauled To Jail

The intended victim of a home invasion in Medford, Ore., was charged with unlawful use of a weapon, reckless endangerment and menacing after he allegedly told the would-be perpetrator, who was attempting to break in through the back door, to get off his property and followed it up by firing a warning shot into the ground.

According to KDRV-TV, 36-year-old Corey Thompson warded off  the in-progress break-in by grabbing his AR-15 and telling 40-year-old Jonathon Kinsella, a wanted felon, that he’d better stop.

Police responding to a disturbance call at the apartment complex allegedly heard a gunshot, followed by the sight of Kinsella running toward the parking lot. They apprehended Kinsella, then arrested Thompson because, they said, that warning shot could have ricocheted off the ground and hurt someone.

Police have confiscated the weapon until Thompson, an Iraq veteran, has proven his innocence.

eBay Pulls Auction For Man’s Spot In Heaven

TRENTON, N.J., (UPI) —  A New Jersey man who offered online bidders his spot in heaven said bidding reached $100,000 before eBay took down his proposal.

Ari Mandel, 31, who lived in an Orthodox Jewish community until he was 23 and now identifies himself as theologically atheist, said eBay removed an auction offering his “Portion in olam habaah [heaven],” after it obtained a high bid of $100,000, the New York Daily News reported Thursday.

“It was nice to fantasize,” Mandel told The Jewish Forward of his near payday. “But I didn’t think it was going to happen.”

The auction assured bidders Mandel had steered clear of sin by performing good deeds, refusing to worship false gods and being “98 percent vegan.” The description promised Mandel would continue to live a good life to ensure the spot in heaven would remain available for the winning bidder.

Mandel described his posting as a harmless prank.

“To those of you who took this seriously, chill out. It was just a joke,” he said. “Whether or not you’re a believer in this sort of thing, chill out.”

Mandel said he received a call from an eBay representative to inform him that intangible items cannot be auctioned on the site.

Boy Who Made Pop-Tart Into Gun Shape Gets NRA Membership

BROOKLYN PARK, Md., (UPI) —  An 8-year-old Maryland boy suspended for biting his Pop-Tart into a gun shape received a National Rifle Association lifetime membership at a GOP fundraiser.

Josh Welch, who was suspended March 1 from Park Elementary School in Brooklyn Park for making a gun shape with his Pop-Tart, was presented with a $550 lifetime membership to the NRA by state House Minority Leader Nicholaus Kipke, R-Pasadena, during a Wednesday night fundraiser for Anne Arundel County Republicans, The Baltimore Sun reported Thursday.

Welch gave the certificate to his parents before returning to playing games on a cellphone at the event.

“Everyone keeps asking me why I did it,” Josh said. “I don’t know why I did it … I wish people would stop asking me about it. It’ll probably go on for 45 years or something.”

Kid Who Ate A Pop Tart Until It Looked Rather Like A Gun Receives Free Lifetime NRA Membership

The National Rifle Association presented 8-year-old Marylander Josh Welch a free lifetime membership, valued at $550, in a lighthearted demonstration of the absurdity of Josh’s school suspension over a gun-shaped pastry.

Josh received the membership from Maryland State Representative Nicholaus Kipke at a local Republican fundraising event “during a tongue-in-cheek presentation that involved a Pop-Tart fashioned into a pistol and gun safety tips,” the Baltimore Sun reports.

Josh was suspended from Park Elementary School for two days in March, after he noticed the Pop Tart he’d been munching on had begun to resemble a pistol in profile and, perhaps unwisely for the then-7-year-old, shared that bit of information with classmates.

Although Josh’s family clearly acquiesced in his participation at the Republican event, he said no one in his family is an NRA member (expect himself), and that he really didn’t know what the NRA is all about. But he clearly thinks the whole hoopla over getting in trouble at school for eating a pastry until only the silhouette of a gun remains is just stupid.

“Everyone keeps asking me why I did it,” he said. “I don’t know why I did it. … I wish people would stop asking me about it.”

Mom Says School Overreacted To Lego Gun

PALMER, Mass.,  (UPI) —  A Massachusetts woman said officials at her son’s school have backed off plans to discipline the kindergartener for bringing a Lego gun on the school bus.

Mieke Crane said she was initially told her son would have to write a letter of apology to the school bus driver, serve detention Tuesday and face suspension from the school bus for bringing the Lego gun — which is slightly larger than a quarter — on the bus to Old Mill Pond Elementary School in Palmer Friday morning, WGGB-TV, Springfield, Mass., reported Wednesday.

“I think they overreacted totally. I totally do,” Crane said.

She said another student yelled to the driver that the boy had a gun.

“She said he caused quite a disturbance on the bus and that the children were traumatized,” Crane said.

Crane and the other child’s mother, who did not want to be identified, said they believe the school is sending the wrong message with the punishment.

The principal of the school declined to speak with WGGB-TV, but Crane said she has since spoken to the official and her son will not be punished.

Boston Marathon Bombing Victim Crowned Prom Queen

LOWELL, Mass.,  (UPI) —  A Massachusetts teenager injured in the Boston Marathon bombings was crowned prom queen by her class.

Sydney Corcoran, a senior at Lowell High School, was injured along with her mother, Celeste, in the April 15 bombings. She was crowned prom queen at the dance Tuesday night, WBZ-TV, Boston, reported Wednesday.

“I know that I can’t dance with them but just to be back with my friends from high school, I haven’t seen them in over a month so I’m happy to go tonight and see everyone,” said Sydney, who is recovering from shrapnel injuries.

Celeste Corcoran, who lost both of her legs in the bombings, said she is proud of her daughter. “She’s been through a lot. She deserves to have fun tonight,” she said.

Missing Horse Found With Help Of Telepathic Communicator

REDMOND, Wash., (UPI) —  A Washington state woman said rescuers got help from a telepathic animal communicator when they found her horse trapped in a ravine.

Barbara Linstedt said Gemma, her 4-year-old Norwegian fjord, escaped Monday from her stall at the Saddle Rock Stables in Redmond and caretakers spent hours searching for the 800-pound horse before calling in horse communicator Joan Ranquet, The Seattle Times reported Wednesday.

Linstedt said Ranquet used her abilities to communicate telepathically with the horse and determine she was trapped in a tight space near shrubbery where she could hear both road noise and water.

Linstedt said she decided Ranquet must be referring to the ravine, and Gemma was found on a ledge about 70 feet down.

Rescuers led by the Washington State Animal Response Team put a helmet and harness on Gemma Tuesday and they were able to lift her up using pulleys.

“It’s amazing,” Linstedt said. “It’s an absolute miracle that we found her and got her out.”

FBI Intercepts Possible Ricin-Laced Letter Sent To President Obama

WASHINGTON, (UPI) —  The Secret Service said a possible ricin-tainted letter sent to President Obama Thursday seemed similar to a letter sent to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

A spokeswoman with the FBI’s Washington Field Office said the Secret Service intercepted a “suspicious letter” and the FBI was testing it for the highly toxic material, The Washington Post reported.

“U.S. Secret Service can confirm that the White House mail screening facility intercepted a letter addressed to the White House that [was] similar to letters previously addressed to Mayor Bloomberg in New York,” the Secret Service said in a statement. “This letter has been turned over to the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force for testing and investigation.”

On Wednesday, authorities intercepted ricin-contaminated letters mailed to Bloomberg and the gun-control group he founded, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which has been an outspoken advocate in the recent push for stricter gun laws.

Earlier this year, ricin-laced letters were sent to Obama, Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and a Mississippi judge. Police in Washington state last week also arrested a man in a death threat to a judge and two ricin-tainted letters sent earlier this month.

Here’s Why Cruz Doesn’t Trust The Republicans

Last week, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told the Congressional establishment he didn’t trust them, whether Democrat or Republican, with the task of crafting a budget that will force government to spend within its means. His “Let me be clear: I don’t trust the Republicans” retort to Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) has resonated with true fiscal conservatives nationwide since then.

In a Breitbart column Thursday, contributor (and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General under President Ronald Reagan) Al Regnery has taken Cruz’ now-famous declaration and used it as the jumping-off point for a little history lesson that serves as an instructive refresher on how, for years, establishment Republicans led the charge toward fiscal irresponsibility that President Barack Obama has simply accelerated.

From Medicare Part D to No Child Left Behind and from the Wall Street bailout to the “original” Republican White House economic stimulus program, establishment Republicans are guilty of the same fiscal foolishness as the current Presidential Administration is perpetrating.

It’s a good read, so check it out and pass it along.

Marines Tortured, Killed Couple For Pleasure, Prosecutor Says

RIVERSIDE, Calif.,  (UPI) —  Three former U.S. Marines tortured and killed a fellow Marine and his wife for pleasure, a California prosecutor told jurors in closing arguments.

Prosecutor Daniel DeLimon said the defendants were “Marines by day, criminals by night,” The Press-Enterprise newspaper in Riverside, Calif., reported.

Tyrone Miller, 25; Emrys John, 23; and Kevin Cox, 25, could face the death penalty if convicted on charges of murder, burglary, robbery and sexual assault.

They are being tried in the deaths of Sgt. Jan Pietrzak, 24, and his wife, Quiana Jenkins-Pietrzak, 26, in their home on Oct. 15, 2008.

DeLimon told jurors the defendants committed the crimes partly for profit but also for “the enjoyment of the entire experience.”

Cox’s attorney, Ryan Markson, argued his client had only a minor role but went along out of fear of the other defendants.

Markson said Miller had a motive to kill Pietrzak because the sergeant had threatened Miller’s potential promotion to corporal.

The trial began in April. Closing arguments began Wednesday in Cox’s case, and a second jury was expected to hear closing arguments Thursday for Miller and John.

Genetically Engineered Wheat Found In Oregon Field

EUGENE, Ore., (UPI) —  The discovery of what appears to be genetically engineered wheat on a farm in eastern Oregon could threaten the state’s exports, officials say.

A farmer in eastern Oregon made the find when he sprayed a field with the weed-killer glyphosate to prepare it for spring planting, The (Portland) Oregonian reported Wednesday. The farmer discovered some wheat survived the spraying, suggesting it was genetically engineered to be resistant to glyphosate.

Monsanto Co. markets glyphosate under the name Roundup and sells genetically engineered seed advertised as Roundup-ready.

Much of Oregon’s wheat crop is exported to East Asia to be used for noodles and crackers, but state Department of Agriculture Director Katy Coba said many countries will not accept genetically engineered crops.

“Clearly there’s a concern about market reaction,” Coba said. “Japan and Korea jump out. They do not want genetically engineered food, they do not want genetically engineered wheat. They could shut off the market to us.”

She said the wheat industry might have to pay to have exports tested.

Mike Firko — assistant director of Biological and Technical Services for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service — said no other genetically engineered wheat has been found so far.

Obama’s Brother To Sell Hand-Written Letters From President

WASHINGTON, (UPI) —  U.S. President Barack Obama’s brother is selling two letters the president wrote to relatives in Kenya for $15,000 each, officials said.

The handwritten letters will be available through U.S. collector Gary Zimet’s, the New York Post reported Thursday.

Zimet said he reached out to Obama’s half-brother, Malik Abongo “Roy” Obama, who lives in the Kenyan village of Nyang’oma Kogelo, the Obamas’ ancestral home, and asked if he had received any letters from his brother.

“I wrote to Malik and didn’t know if I would get a response. I was astonished when I did. I sent a letter to a post office box in Kenya. I asked him if he had any letters from his brother. I didn’t expect to hear from him ever, but he wrote back and said, ‘I have two letters,'” Zimet said. “These letters show great interest on the president’s part in his family, they are priced at $15,000 each. We didn’t go too much into Malik’s relationship with his half-brother, I got a sense it was cordial but not overly warm.”

Malik Obama, 55, is the son of the president’s father and his first wife.