Manning Shafted By CFAA; Newspaper Slams Obama Ahead Of Visit; Limbaugh Criticizes RINOs; Detroit Cops Almost Shot Trying To Scare Public; Cops Investigate Cows Mutilated By… Aliens— Personal Liberty Digest ™ P.M. Edition 7-31-2013

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

Bradley Manning Faced Harsher Prosecution Merely Because His Leaks Involved a Computer

The Judiciary Committee basically copy-pasted the Espionage Act into the CFAA, but forbid “use of the computer” rather than accessing the documents. They specifically wanted to make the isolated act of using a computer a separate crime. Read More… 

Chattonooga Newspaper Editorial Snatches The Welcome Mat Out From Under Obama Jobs Visit

“Take your jobs plan and shove it, Mr. President: Your policies have harmed Chattanooga enough. That was the headline that ran above a scathing editorial in Tuesday’s Chattanooga Times Free Press greeting President Barack Obama. Read More… 

Rush Limbaugh Rips GOP Leaders For ‘Capitulating’ To Obama, Democrats

The Republican Party is shifting from its conservative base and ceding its position to President Obama on key issues, conservative firebrand Rush Limbaugh says. Read More… 

Detroit Police Pretending To Be Robbers, For Experiment, Nearly Shot By Undercover FBI

On June 6, Fox 2 News reported that an FBI agent almost shot a Detroit cop at a gas station while filling up. The situation occurred after officers decided it would be a good idea to simulate a purse snatching and invite a TV crew to film Detroiters’ reactions. Watch… 

Aliens? Cops Don’t Know – Cows Carry Secret To The Grave

Authorities aren’t ruling out aliens in the mutilation of several cows in the rural Missouri countryside. Read More… 

Aliens? Cops Don’t Know – Cows Carry Secret To The Grave

Authorities aren’t ruling out aliens in the mutilation of several cows in the rural Missouri countryside.

The attacks, which have killed cows – all female – dating back to late 2011, all bear the same forensic markers: their reproductive organs are removed; their tongues cut out; their ears severed.

It wasn’t until the third and most recent attack that a veterinarian was called to the scene to examine the bovine victim. When he did, he judged the surgical precision of the attacks too sophisticated for typical cattle-killing culprits like coyotes or violent, maladjusted “pranksters.”

Robert Hills, the Sheriff of Henry County, apparently agreed, telling a local TV station the lack of evident trauma and absence of blood and bodily fluids at the scene had opened his mind to all possibilities.

Property owner Lyn Mitchell was more assertive, telling the Mutual UFO Network (yes, there really is such a thing) she wasn’t ruling out the possibility of aliens.

Watch the video, then get back to normal life.


Detroit Police Pretending To Be Robbers, For Experiment, Nearly Shot By Undercover FBI

Add this to the list of reasons Detroit is in shambles.

On June 6, Fox 2 News reported that an FBI agent almost shot a Detroit cop at a gas station while filling up. The situation occurred after officers decided it would be a good idea to simulate a purse snatching and invite a TV crew to film Detroiters’ reactions.

But, believe me when I say this, Fox 2’s Charlie LeDuff tells the story better than I can write it:

Two takeaways: 1) Good thing there were no concealed carriers around. And 2) Why the hell doesn’t every cable news station have a few reporters like LeDuff on staff?

Bradley Manning Faced Harsher Prosecution Merely Because His Leaks Involved a Computer

This post, written by surveillance, free speech, and government transparency expert Trevor Timm, was originally published on July 31, 2013 by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

We wrote yesterday about the dangerous “hacker madness” strategy used by the prosecution in the Bradley Manning trial, a tried-and-true tactic that attempts to scare judges into sustaining convictions based on a defendant’s knowledge of computers. However, another interesting fact of the Manning trial is being overlooked by the media: this is the first time we know of where the government has sustained a conviction under a controversial section of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) known as (a)(1).

Manning’s conviction under this provision looks to be yet another example of prosecutors leveraging the CFAA to force more prison time on computer users while using other, almost identical laws to punish the same acts.

Though his ultimate sentence may be significantly shorter, Manning faces a maximum of 136 years in jail for the nineteen counts on which he would found guilty. Most significantly, he was found guilty of six counts under the Espionage Act and two counts under the CFAA. But when you read both of the statutes closely, they are completely redundant except for one aspect: computers.

In fact, as the Judiciary Committee Report on the 1996 amendment to the CFAA makes clear, Congress explicitly based (a)(1) of the CFAA off 793(e) of the Espionage Act. “The bill would bring the protection for classified national defense or foreign relations information maintained on computers in line with our other espionage laws,” the report says. The original CFAA, written in 1984 was modeled on another part of the Espionage Act, section 794, which has never been used in leak cases. But Congress wanted it tailored after 793(e), a statute that in recent years has been used to prosecute a record number of leakers. (Compare the text here and here.)

The statutes are so similar, in fact, it’s hard to tell them apart even when reading the Judiciary Committee’s explanation about how they differ:

Although there is considerable overlap between 18 U.S.C. 793(e) and section 1030(a)(1), as amended by the NII Protection Act, the two statutes would not reach exactly the same conduct. Section 1030(a)(1) would target those persons who deliberately break into a computer to obtain properly classified Government secrets then try to peddle those secrets to others, including foreign governments. In other words, unlike existing espionage laws prohibiting the theft and peddling of Government secrets to foreign agents, section 1030(a)(1) would require proof that the individual knowingly used a computer without authority, or in excess of authority, for the purpose of obtaining classified information. In this sense then, it is the use of the computer which is being proscribed, not the unauthorized possession of, access to, or control over the classified information itself.

Did you get all that? The Judiciary Committee basically copy-pasted the Espionage Act into the CFAA, but forbid “use of the computer” rather than accessing the documents. So there you have it: they specifically wanted to make the isolated act of using a computer a separate crime.

In the government’s mind, the Espionage Act can be used to punish a leaker of information, and if that person merely used a computer to get that information, they are guilty of an additional felony. So someone who emails documents to a journalists it got off a government computer will face ten more years per charge, than a government official who photocopied documents he got off a shelf and physically mailed them to the same journalist.

Of course, leaks to the press should never be equated with espionage, regardless of what statute is used. But this is yet another example of the government using knowledge of computers to unjustly ratchet up penalties on a crime that caused little or no harm.

Spell Of Warm Weather Brings Blooms Of Jellyfish To British Waters

LONDON (UPI) — Britain’s coastal areas have seen a rapid rise in jellyfish blooms in an ongoing spell of warm weather, a conservation group says.

After a long, cold spring that saw very few reports of jellyfish before June, several species are now being seen in rapidly growing numbers, the Marine Conservation Society reported as part of its national jellyfish survey.

One species, the Lion’s Mane, is capable of inflicting a powerful sting and scientists are warning people not to touch them.

“They’re our biggest jellyfish, they grow to about two meters (6 feet) wide and have meters of trailing tentacles, and they have very powerful stings,” said Peter Richardson, the society’s biodiversity program manager.

The society has been releasing a jellyfish survey annually for 10 years based on reports from members of the public.

“We ask people to report what they see online and send us photos,” Richardson told the BBC.

“But always look and don’t touch, as [jellyfish] can sting and that could really spoil your day,” he said.

Theories Contradict On Animal Reasons For Monogamy

WASHINGTON (UPI) — U.S. scientists have published competing theories for why some animals are monogamous and some are not: convenience or protecting offspring.

The answers to one of nature’s most vexing questions is a difficult one since scientists can’t see hard evidence of when and how certain species developed monogamous behaviors. That leaves them to study current mating and rearing habits and use mathematical equations to extrapolate how and when they began.

The two studies, one published in the journal Science and the other in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, offer differing hypotheses.

In Science, researchers suggest monogamy was an offshoot born of convenience for males mating with multiple females who lived great distances from one another. In the NAS study, scientists suggest males took a single female as a means to protect their offspring from competing males that might see it as a hurdle to mating with the female and try to kill the young animals, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

A third leading theory is that males mated exclusively with one female to prevent infanticide.

Birds are the animals most likely to live in monogamous relationships. Only 9 percent of mammals are monogamous. Among primates, the group that includes humans, 29 percent of species are monogamous.

Ancient ‘Halls Of The Dead’ Uncovered In British Countryside

PETERCHURCH, England (UPI) — British archaeologists say they’ve unearthed two 6,000-year-old Neolithic “halls of the dead” in the Herefordshire countryside.

Researchers from the University of Manchester and Herefordshire Council made the find on Dorstone Hill, near Peterchurch, where the remains of the halls were found within prehistoric burial mounds, a university release reported Tuesday.

The timber buildings may have been “halls of the dead” similar to others from the Neolithic period found in Europe, where bodies would have been placed before being moved to nearby chambered tombs, the archaeologists said.

The buildings, probably used by entire communities, were deliberately burnt down after they were constructed and their remains incorporated into the two burial mounds, they said.

The researchers said they’ve uncovered structural timbers in carbonized form, post holes showing the positions of uprights, and the burnt remains of stakes forming internal partitions.

“The mound tells us quite a bit about the people who built it: they sought to memorialize the idea of their community represented by the dwelling,” Manchester archaeology Professor Julian Thomas said.

“And by turning it into part of the landscape, it becomes a permanent reminder for generations to come.”

“Just think of how the burning of the hall could have been seen for miles around, in the large expanse of what is now the border country between England and Wales,” he said.

Archaeologists have long speculated a close relationship existed between houses and tombs in Neolithic Europe, and that “houses of the dead” amounted to symbolic representations of the “houses of the living.”

“This find is of huge significance to our understanding of prehistoric life — so we’re absolutely delighted,” Thomas said.

Scientists Probe Innards Of Distant Star To Learn About Its Planet

NEW YORK (UPI) — An international team of scientists says a new way to measure the internal properties of stars can offer a more accurate assessment of their orbiting planets.

Previously, scientists inferred stars’ properties such as radius, mass and age through observations of their brightness and color, but the results were often not accurate enough to make assumptions about their orbiting planets, they said.

Now, a U.S.-German team of scientists, reporting in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has described a new approach to characterize star-planet systems: asteroseismology.

The technique identifies the internal properties of stars by measuring their surface oscillations, comparable to the way seismologists use earthquake oscillations to examine the Earth’s interior.

The researchers, from New York University, Princeton University and the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, used asteroseismology to examine HD 52265, a star approximately 92 light years away and nearly 20 percent more massive than our Sun known to have an exoplanet in orbit around it.

They were able to make several assessments of the star’s traits, including its mass, radius, age and — for the first time — its internal rotation.

They were able then to use these findings to make a more definitive assessment of its orbiting exoplanet, including its true mass of roughly twice that of our solar system’s planet Jupiter.

Study Suggests Costa Rica Volcano Powered By ‘Highway From Hell’

NEW YORK (UPI) — A Costa Rica volcano may have been fast-tracked for eruption triggered by magma rising over a few short months rather than thousands of years, researchers say.

A study by scientists at Columbia University is the latest to suggest deep, hot magma can set off an eruption fairly quickly, a university release said Wednesday.

That finding, from a study of Costa Rica’s Irazu volcano, could potentially provide another tool for detecting an oncoming volcanic disaster, the researchers said.

“If we had had seismic instruments in the area at the time we could have seen these deep magmas coming,” said study lead author Philipp Ruprecht, a vulcanologist at the university’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “We could have had an early warning of months, instead of days or weeks.”

The 10,000-foot Irazu volcano erupts about every 20 years or less.

While most vulcanologists have long assumed mantle magma feeding eruptions rises and lingers for long periods of time in a mixing chamber several miles below a volcano, a study of Irazu’s eruption history suggests some magma may travel directly from the upper mantle, covering more than 20 miles in a few months, the Columbia researchers said.

“There has to be a conduit from the mantle to the magma chamber,”study co-author Terry Plank, a geochemist at Lamont-Doherty, said. “We like to call it the highway from hell.”

Chemical studies of ashes from Irazu eruptions showed the erupted magma was so fresh it had to have come directly from the mantle without a long period of collecting in chambers below the volcano.

“The study provides one more piece of evidence that it’s possible to get magma from the mantle to the surface in very short order,” said John Pallister, who heads the U.S. Geological Survey Volcano Disaster Assistance Program in Vancouver, Wash. “It tells us there’s a potentially shorter time span we need to worry about.”

Kids Should Always Wear Life Jackets On Boats

ELK GROVE VILLAGE, Ill. (UPI) — Children should always wear life jackets when on boats or near bodies of water and never swim alone, U.S. pediatricians advise.

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents and caregivers to make sure the life jacket is the right size for the child and that the jacket should not be loose. It should always be worn as instructed with all straps belted.

“Blow-up water wings, toys, rafts and air mattresses should not be used as life jackets or personal flotation devices,” the AAP said. “Adults should wear life jackets for their own protection, and to set a good example.”

Adolescents and adults should be warned of the dangers of boating when under the influence of alcohol, drugs and even some prescription medications.

In addition, the AAP also advised people should never swim alone. Even good swimmers need buddies, the AAP said.

A lifeguard, or another adult who knows about water rescue, needs to be watching children whenever they are in or near the water. However, younger children should be closely supervised while in or near the water. Use “touch supervision,” keeping no more than an arm’s length away, the AAP said.

“Make sure your child knows never to dive into water except when permitted by an adult who knows the depth of the water and who has checked for underwater objects,” the AAP said.

“Never let your child swim in canals or any fast moving water. Ocean swimming should only be allowed when a lifeguard is on duty.”

Mocking Those Overweight Only Makes Them Fatter

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (UPI) — People who think mocking overweight people in their lives is effective are wrong; U.S. researchers say discriminating against fat people only makes them fatter.

Angelina Sutin, a psychologist at the Florida State College of Medicine in Tallahassee, and a colleague analyzed survey data from more than 6,000 U.S. men and women age 50 and older asked on how often in their daily lives they experienced different types of discrimination, NPR reported. Examples ranged from discourtesy or refusal of restaurant service to not getting a job or promotion.

The survey also asked the respondents why they thought the discrimination happened. Was it due to their race or age, or sex, age or weight?

Four years later, a follow-up survey asked the same questions and changes in weight were noted, Sutin said.

“People often rationalize that it’s OK to discriminate based on weight because it will motivate the victim to lose pounds,” Sutin told NPR. “But our findings suggest the opposite.”

People who were overweight and said they’d experienced discrimination based on weight were more than twice as likely to be obese four years later than people who didn’t mention such discrimination.

The findings were published in the latest issue of the online journal PLoS One.

People Obese Their Whole Lives May Have Higher Heart Risk

BETHESDA, Md. (UPI) — It may not be just how many extra pounds the obese carry, it may also be for how long a person has been obese that affects the heart, U.S. researchers say.

Jared Reis of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., said an analysis of data on 3,300 people over a 25-year period found sub-clinical heart disease, such as the buildup of fats inside arteries, starting in young adulthood.

“With about every additional year of obesity, the risk of developing sub-clinical coronary heart disease increased by about 2 percent to 4 percent,” Reis said in a statement.

Reis said the risk compounds — each year’s additional risk builds on the base of the previous year’s. Controlling weight early in adulthood could have big benefits later, Reis said.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

U.S. Spends $86 Billion Per Year On Back Pain, Most Does No Good

BOSTON (UPI) — U.S. adults spend about $86 billion annually on back or neck pain-related health issues and much of it does no good, researchers say.

Dr. John N. Mafi, a fellow in the Division of General Medicine and Primary Care at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, said back pain is the fifth-most common reason for doctor visits and accounts for more than 10 percent of all appointments made with primary care physicians.

Published guidelines for routine back pain advise use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as NSAIDs or acetaminophen and physical therapy. Within three months of these treatments back pain usually resolves, Mafi said the research showed.

However, “Routine back pain increasingly relies on advanced diagnostic imaging, referrals to other physicians and use of narcotics, with a concomitant decrease in NSAIDs or acetaminophen use and no change in physical therapy referrals,” Mafi, the study’s lead author, said in a statement.

In addition to the extra cost, unnecessary treatment is not only expensive, but also can come with complications, Mafi said.

A meta-analysis concluded narcotics offer minimal benefit to relieve acute back pain and have no proven efficacy in treating chronic back pain.

Overuse of imaging may not result in immediate problems but exposure to ionizing radiation can lead to further health complications such as cancer, Mafi noted.

“Increased use of advanced imaging represents an area of particular concern,” Dr. Bruce Landon, the study’s senior author, said. “Early in the course of back pain, such imaging is almost always wasteful. Moreover, there are almost always some abnormalities, which increases the likelihood that a patient will undergo expensive spine surgery that might not improve their outcomes over the longer term.”

The findings were published in Internal Medicine.

Breastfeeding Duration Linked To Higher Intelligence Later

BOSTON (UPI) — Breastfeeding for six months to a year is associated with better language at age 3 and verbal and non-verbal intelligence at age 7, U.S. researchers say.

Dr. Mandy B. Belfort of Boston Children’s Hospital and colleagues examined the relationships of breastfeeding duration and exclusivity with child cognition at ages 3 and 7. Researchers used assessment tests to measure cognition — attention, memory, producing and understanding language, learning, reasoning, problem solving and decision making.

“Longer breastfeeding duration was associated with higher Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test score at age 3 and with higher intelligence on the Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test at age 7,” the researchers said.

However, the study found breastfeeding duration was not associated with Wide Range Assessment of Memory and Learning scores.

“In summary, our results support a causal relationship of breastfeeding in infancy with receptive language at age 3 and with verbal and non-verbal IQ at school age,” the study authors wrote in the study. “These findings support national and international recommendations to promote exclusive breastfeeding through age 6 months and continuation of breastfeeding through at least age 1 year.”

The findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics.

U.S. GDP Up 1.7 Percent In Second Quarter

WASHINGTON (UPI) — The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 1.7 percent in the second quarter of 2013, the Commerce Department said in an advanced estimate Wednesday.

The estimate is subject to revision as more data become available.

The gross domestic product gained at a sharper rate than economists had expected. The consensus forecast called for a gain of 1.4 percent after a downwardly revised 1.1 percent growth for the first quarter.

First-quarter growth was upgraded to 1.8 percent in June.

Investments in commercial real estate, exports and a slowdown in government spending cuts contributed positively to the upgraded second-quarter estimate.

An upturn in state and local government spending partly offset an increase in imports, which subtracts from the GDP, the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis said.

Real personal consumption expenditures rose 1.8 percent in the second quarter after increasing 2.3 percent in the first.

Spending on durable goods rose 6.5 percent after a 5.8 percent increase in the first quarter. Spending on non-durable goods rose 2 percent, a slowdown from a 2.7 percent increase in the first quarter. Spending on services rose 0.9 percent, a drop from a 1.5 percent rise in the first quarter.

Mortgage Activity Slows For Seventh Week

WASHINGTON (UPI) — Mortgage activity declined for the seventh consecutive week last week while interest rates were mixed, a banking trade group said Wednesday.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said mortgage activity fell 3.7 percent in the week ending Friday.

In the same week, the MBA’s index for refinancing activity dropped 4 percent.

The organization said average interest rates for standard 30-year, fixed-rate conforming loans was unchanged at 4.58 percent with average points for 30-year, fixed rate loans dropping from 0.4 to 0.38.

For loans of more than $417,500, called jumbo loans, rates fell from 4.66 percent to 4.64 percent. Points for long-term jumbo loans fell from 0.33 to 0.31.

Average rates for 30-year, fixed rate contracts backed by the Federal Housing Administration rose from 4.28 percent to 4.3 percent with points falling from 0.33 to 0.31.

The average interest rate for 15-year, fixed-rate mortgages rose from 3.63 percent to 3.67 percent. Points rose from 0.35 to 0.4 in the week.

For short-term, adjustable-rate contracts, interest rates rose from 3.3 percent to 3.39 percent with points climbing from 0.34 to 0.36.

Banks Are Turning Away Nickel And Dime Clients

NEW YORK (UPI) — New York City’s commissioner for consumer affairs said banks were turning away “hundreds of thousands” of customers for minor reasons.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that 850,000 New Yorkers had no bank accounts and that many are turned down at banks for small indiscretions on their record, such as a bounced check or a late payment.

“Hundreds of thousands of Americans are being shut out [of the U.S. banking system] for relatively small mistakes,” said Jonathan Mintz, the city’s commissioner for the Department of Consumer Affairs.

Nationwide, there are an estimated 10 million households that do not have bank accounts, which leaves them vulnerable to high fees charged by check cashing services or high rates charged by pay day lenders, the Times said.

“Everything is more expensive,” said David Korzeniowski, 23, who said he was told that an overdrawn account was the reason given for a bank turning him down and informing him that he would not be eligible for a checking account until 2016.

Banks say they are protecting themselves against fraud, but consumer advocates say that banks are discriminating against poor people, who are more likely to live from paycheck to paycheck and are more likely to overdraw an account or make a late payment.

Data also shows that since the 2009 financial crisis, banks around the country have shut offices in poorer neighborhoods and gravitated towards wealthier areas, the Times said.

Data suggests banks should be more careful, as fraud associated with new bank accounts rose to $9.8 billion in 2012, a 50 percent jump from 2011, Javelin Strategy and Research reported.

Many are shocked and feel insulted when a bank turns them away, the Times said.

“I just don’t understand why they wouldn’t want me. It feels unfair,” said Tiffany Murrell, a secretary from Brooklyn who was turned down by a bank over a $40 overdraft that occurred in June 2010.

Murrell said she is up to date on all her bills.

It was “insulting and frustrating,” that the bank turned her down, she said.

Court Calls On Bernanke To Testify

WASHINGTON (UPI) — A federal judge has ordered U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to testify in a lawsuit concerning the 2008 bailout of American International Group.

Judge Thomas Wheeler of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington said that Bernanke was a central figure behind the government’s reasoning for the bailout that shareholders in the lawsuit claim represented an unconstitutional government “taking,” Courthouse News reported Wednesday.

“Because of Mr. Bernanke’s personal involvement in the decision-making process to bail out AIG, it is improbable that plaintiff would be able to obtain the same testimony or evidence from other persons or source,” Wheeler wrote in his ruling.

“Mr. Bernanke repeatedly has acknowledged that he was a key decision-maker on behalf of the government, and his testimony unquestionably is relevant to the Fifth Amendment taking and illegal exaction claims before the court,” Wheeler added.

Wheeler has granted class-action status to the case in which lead plaintiff Starr International Co., has claimed the government forced its solution on a private company.

In the midst of the financial crisis, the government gave AIG an $85 million revolving credit line in exchange for a 79.9 percent equity stake in the company, the Courthouse News said.

Wheeler also said the court would be respectful of Bernanke’s position, allowing the chairman “appropriate deference and courtesies,” including “appropriate judicial oversight” and care that “proper and efficient use of time is maintained.”

Federal Reserve To Keep Policies Unchanged

WASHINGTON (UPI) — The U.S. Federal Reserve said Wednesday it would stay the course with current monetary policy until the labor market improves.

The Fed’s Open Market Committee elected to push onward with its $85 billion-per-month pace for asset purchases, which are in place to put downward pressure on interest rates. It would also maintain the low overnight lending rate of zero to 0.25 percent.

Investors have been keeping a sharp lookout for hints of change. In late June, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said there was a chance the Fed could unwind its asset purchasing program by the end of 2014.

The remark jolted markets and Fed officials went into damage control, quickly asserting that Fed policy changes would depend on improved market conditions.

“The committee is prepared to increase or reduce the pace of its purchases to maintain appropriate policy accommodation as the outlook for the labor market or inflation changes,” the Fed said Wednesday.

“In determining the size, pace, and composition of its asset purchases, the committee will continue to take appropriate account of the likely efficacy and costs of such purchases as well as the extent of progress toward its economic objectives.”

Chattonooga Newspaper Editorial Snatches The Welcome Mat Out From Under Obama Jobs Visit

“Take your jobs plan and shove it, Mr. President: Your policies have harmed Chattanooga enough.”

That was the headline that ran above a scathing editorial in Tuesday’s Chattanooga Times Free Press greeting President Barack Obama, who arrived hours later to deliver his “grand bargain” jobs proposal that would offer tax cuts to corporations and shell out more government subsidies for jobs programs.

Never mind that the proposed corporate tax cut — from 35 percent to 28 percent — far undercuts the 39.6 maximum that small business owners, the backbone of Obama’s ostensibly dear middle class, can pay under his policies.

Without waiting for the President to lay out his new ideas later in the day, the Free Press held no quarter with Obama’s past attempts at “stimulating” the economy:

President Obama,

Welcome to Chattanooga, one of hundreds of cities throughout this great nation struggling to succeed in spite of your foolish policies that limit job creation, stifle economic growth and suffocate the entrepreneurial spirit.

Forgive us if you are not greeted with the same level of Southern hospitality that our area usually bestows on its distinguished guests. You see, we understand you are in town to share your umpteenth different job creation plan during your time in office. If it works as well as your other job creation programs, then thanks, but no thanks. We’d prefer you keep it to yourself.

That’s because your jobs creation plans so far have included a ridiculous government spending spree and punitive tax increase on job creators that were passed, as well as a minimum wage increase that, thankfully, was not. Economists — and regular folks with a basic understanding of math — understand that these are three of the most damaging policies imaginable when a country is mired in unemployment and starving for job growth.

Even though 64 percent of Chattanooga respondents said they would rather you hadn’t chosen to visit our fair city, according to a survey on the Times Free Press website, it’s probably good that you’re here. It will give you an opportunity to see the failure of your most comprehensive jobs plan to date, the disastrous stimulus scheme, up close and personal.

…So excuse us, Mr. President, for our lack of enthusiasm for your new jobs program. Here in Chattanooga we’re still reeling from your old one.

Read the entire piece here.

Syrian President Bashar Assad Joins Instagram

DAMASCUS, Syria, (UPI) —  Syrian President Bashar Assad has joined photo-sharing site Instagram, posting pictures of himself with sick and elderly citizens.

Assad’s Instagram account, syrianpresidency, features photos of the leader comforting sick citizens, feeding the elderly and posing with residents of the country, The Daily Telegraph, Britain, reported Wednesday.

The account also features numerous photos of the president’s wife, Asma Assad.

The Instagram account was opened last week amid news the death toll from the Syrian civil war had surpassed 100,000.

Sen. Jeff Flake Heads The Hill’s Beautiful People List

WASHINGTON, (UPI) —  Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., tops the 10th edition of The Hill’s list of the 50 most beautiful people in Washington, released Wednesday.

The Hill gushed that Flake “hit the milestone age of 50 shortly before he joined the Senate, and he doesn’t look anywhere close to that age.”

Flake, elected to the Senate in 2012 after representing Arizona in the House, is one of two congressional members to be included on the list. The other is Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, who was listed sixth.

The Hill noted Gabbard, at 32, is the youngest female House member and has been deployed twice to the Middle East as a member of the Army National Guard.

Other members of the Top 10 beautiful people were:

— Kirby Bumpus, special assistant at the Department of Health and Human Services.

— Sam Kass, White House chef.

— Sisters Sara Zou and Chellie Zou, both production assistants at C-SPAN.

— Eric Ortega, legislative assistant to Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y.

— Zack Condry, Republican strategist at The Prosper Group.

— Julie Goldfarb, legislative aide for Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md.

— Alisha Johnson, spokeswoman for the Environmental Protection Agency.

Rush Limbaugh Rips GOP Leaders For ‘Capitulating’ To Obama, Democrats

WASHINGTON, (UPI) —  The Republican Party is shifting from its conservative base and ceding its position to President Obama on key issues, conservative firebrand Rush Limbaugh says.

Limbaugh, during an interview on Fox News, said the GOP leadership “isn’t conservative” and has spent more time fighting the Tea Party movement than Obama’s policies, Politico reported Tuesday.

“I always thought that as Republicans we opposed Democrats. We wanted to beat them. I don’t see that. I don’t see any pushback against anything Obama wants to do,” Limbaugh said. “The pushback’s against the Tea Party. The pushback is against conservatives. It’s a stunning thing. The Republican Party’s decided that capitulation with the Democrats seems to be the ongoing strategy.”

The conservative talk show host said the Republicans were “capitulating” to Democrats on issues such as the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and immigration.

Limbaugh said “a battle for the party going on” within the GOP but said he believed conservatives would defeat mainstream Republicans.

“I don’t think the mainstream of Republican politics can’t be beat,” Limbaugh said. “I mean — there’s a battle for the party going on. And sure, it would be a tough battle.”

“But there’s no other option. I mean you don’t want to go third party. That just ensures the Democrats are a majority party forever,” he said. “You don’t want to do that. So you have to do what you can to work within the Republican Party and take it over.”