Officials fret potential mass blackouts from solar activity

Homeland Security officials are worried that a solar storm in the future could leave millions of Americans without power and cause massive infrastructure failures throughout the nation.

That’s according to a 2012 FEMA document outlining the government’s response plan for severe “space weather” that wreak havoc on the power grid and electronic equipment.

“An analysis of the space weather impacts indicates that the greatest challenge will be to provide life-saving and life-sustaining resources for large numbers of people that experience long-term power outage from damage to the U.S. electrical grid,” the FEMA document says.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is responsible for monitoring solar activity, has predicted that a solar storm could render useless 300 electrical transformers that are difficult to replace and leave “130 million people without power for years.”

Large solar disruptions occurred in 1859 and 1921, but at the time electrical systems were limited.

According to federal officials, a storm on par with the 1921 magnetic storm could black out the eastern U.S. and Pacific Northwest.

“The extreme geomagnetic space weather event will cause widespread power outages to a large number of people (approximately 100 million people) in a multi-region, multi-state area of the U.S. due to geomagnetic induced currents damaging EHV transformers, especially along coastal regions,” the report says.

House lawmakers voted last week to pass the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act (CIPA), legislation that would put in place infrastructure protections against solar storms.

Cartoon roundup

Rick McKee, The Augusta Chronicle

The Senate Intelligence Committee released a report this week accusing the CIA of engaging in torture. Alternative media saw the release of the report for what it was: a political tactic employed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who is just weeks away from losing her powerful position as chairwoman of the committee. The mainstream media, however, jumped on the opportunity to pummel President Obama’s predecessor — one of their favorite pastimes.

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Randall Enos, Cagle Cartoons
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John Cole, The Scranton Times-Tribune
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Steve Sack, The Minneapolis Star Tribune
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Gary McCoy, Cagle Cartoons
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Eric Allie, Caglecartoons.com
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Rick McKee, The Augusta Chronicle

UPDATE: Wisconsin police chief backs down from requests for ‘volunteers’ to allow in-home searches for firearms

Earlier this week, we told you about Norm Jacobs, the Beloit, Wisconsin, police chief who’d announced a plan to solicit local residents willing to voluntarily invite the police into their homes to conduct firearms searches.

That idea has died on the vine. Apparently, a lot of people in Beloit had a problem with it.

According to the Beloit Daily News, an angry public forced the city to abort the program almost as soon as it had been announced.

“Amidst backlash from the public, the Beloit Police Department withdrew its offer to inspect homes for illegal firearms about a week after it announced the program,” the paper reported late Wednesday. Jacobs admitted the idea had garnered “a lot of negative feedback,” although he maintained that much of it originated from people outside Beloit who had heard about the story after it went viral.

But Jacobs said the spirit of the idea isn’t going away.

“Just because we put a name to it doesn’t mean it was any different than what we could have done before,” he told the Daily News. “I’m hoping that more people in the community will come up with ideas to make their neighborhoods safer.”

Another academic likens the Tea Party to Nazis

In what has to be a world-first, a U.S.-based academic lecturer has identified a correlation between the Third Reich and the Tea Party.

In so doing, he’s struck upon a wholly original intellectual abstraction that will aid young learners in making convenient associations between the vicissitudes of the contemporary political culture with which they’re familiar, and those of less-familiar political systems created by other people, in other places, from other times.

A student who said he attends South Texas College in Weslaco, Texas, recorded the Eureka! moment during an otherwise mundane lecture session last month. The video, which allegedly portrays Dr. Blake Armstrong laboring at his craft, appears to show the teacher astonished at the inspired spontaneity of his own discovery.

“In 1931, which was really interesting… the Nazis: people were kind of tired of them,” the alleged Dr. Armstrong teaches. “They’ve been around since 1920 — 11 years now. They’ve won seats… they’re like, the Tea Party! — That’s such a good example!”

Regaining his composure, the scholar rights himself: “Don’t tell anybody I said that, though.”

Fortunately, at least one intrepid student didn’t heed that request, determining instead to share an inspired moment of discovery with a knowledge-needy world:

H/T: The Blaze

Short-term spending vote coming as budget negotiations continue

With a shutdown looming, House lawmakers announced Tuesday that they plan to vote on a short-term spending bill to extend the government funding a few days past the Thursday deadline until a long-term solution is reached.

The final government funding bill, which would keep most federal functions funded through Sept. 2015, is expected to be revealed by the end of the week. The $1 trillion measure could get a House vote by the weekend.

The Senate is expected to vote on the measure shortly after the House, depending on whether any senators see the need for further debate on the measure.

Meanwhile, some GOP lawmakers are still hoping to move forward with the idea of a “Cromnibus” spending bill that would fund most government activities through the end of the next fiscal year, but includes a continuing resolution to only partially fund some immigration-related functions. That would allow lawmakers to revisit immigration funding with the intention of challenging President Obama’s amnesty maneuvers early next year.

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, meanwhile, is urging his colleagues to force a shutdown over the president’s immigration actions, though top Republicans insist he can’t muster the votes for the fight.

In the unlikely event that lawmakers fail to come to an agreement to fund the government through next fall, federal agencies will likely begin gearing up for a shutdown similar to the one that drove down Congressional approval ratings last year.

Garner death not about race, says daughter

Erica Garner surprised pundits when she said Thursday that her father Eric Garner’s death at the hands of a New York police officer is not a race issue.

“You heard our Chris Cuomo and Brooke Baldwin (CNN anchors) out there and they were saying, they were talking about the diversity in the crowd. It wasn’t just black people; it wasn’t just white people,” CNN host Don Lemon said to Garner during an interview Thursday.

Garner replied: “This is not a black and white issue, this is a national crisis. Like, I believe this is a crisis. I mean for white people to come out and show how deeply they was hurt and like Asians and different people from different nations and different parts of the world to come out and show that they felt the same way I felt on that video. I greatly appreciate it. It is like a sense of I am not the only one that feels this way.”

Lemon pressed on, asking Garner: “‘You said this is not a black and white issue. But in that do you say, are you saying this is not an issue of race? You think it is a racial issue?”

“I really doubt it,” she replied. “It was about the officer’s pride. It was about my father being 6’4″, 350 pounds. And he wanted to be, you know, the top cop that brings this big man down. Because he is just big. I mean, my father wasn’t even doing anything.”

Lemon reacted incredulously, “A lot of people will be surprised because you know this is being made out to be a racial issue and you are saying you don’t think it is about race.”

“Being that my father was black and the officer was white, I mean that’s different races,” Garner said. “But as far as the situation I can’t really say it’s like really like a black and white issue. It is about, you know, the police officers and abusing their power.”

Cartoon roundup

John Cole, The Scranton Times-Tribune

Michael Brown, age 18. Eric Garner, age 43. Tamir Rice, age 12. What do these three males — can’t say “men,” since Tamir was a child — have in common? All three of them were black. All three of them were engaging in activities that would justify questioning by police. All three of them died recently at the hands of 20-something white police officers within moments of being approached by said officers. In Brown’s and Garner’s cases, grand juries determined the officers need face no charges, that the killing of the men was justified. Tamir died less than two weeks ago, on Nov. 22. So far, no charges have been filed in his shooting death. These deaths and the perceived injustice of the grand juries’ verdicts have sparked protests nationwide. Americans are furious: Some claim racism; some cite police brutality and the militarization of police; some support police efforts; some consider the dead “thugs” and the protesters rabble-rousers. Rioters certainly didn’t help the protesters’ cause. President Obama weighed in with an executive order — Surprise! Surprise! — and said cops must now wear cameras. So that’s the answer? Cameras will bring peace on Earth? Tell that to Garner, whose chokehold killing — “I can’t breathe” — was caught on film.

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Steve Sack, The Minneapolis Star Tribune
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Adam Zyglis, The Buffalo News
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Rick McKee, The Augusta Chronicle
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Bob Englehart, The Hartford Courant
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Rick McKee, The Augusta Chronicle

Like country music? You might not after watching this pro-Hillary video

Even though this video is on the YouTube channel of Stand with Hillary, an independent political action committee endorsing you-know-who for the 2016 presidential nomination, we fully expect to find out, after the fact, that it is satire — it’s that ill-conceived. As one YouTube commenter stated, it’s “the perfect culmination of focus studies and polling. And that’s why it sucks.”

What is it? It’s this video, evidently a labor of love from current and former Clinton operatives who believe stuff like this will help the former secretary of state resonate with working folks.

The video only had a few hundred views as of Thursday afternoon, but we’re betting that will change as social media sinks its teeth into such a deliciously mock-worthy mess:

Well, coo-wee, y’all! Let’s stand with Hillary!

#ThingsWeTrustMoreThanObama gaining steam on Twitter

Courtesy of a hashtag on the social networking site Twitter, here’s a collection of things Americans trust more than President Barack Obama.

Enjoy.

U.S. Chamber will fight Obama regulations

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue said Tuesday that his group is launching renewed efforts to reform the nation’s regulatory process, which he says is currently more about politics than protections.

“There is a compelling need to reform the regulatory process itself not for the purpose of steering it to specific outcomes, but to ensure that we will have rules that really work,” he said, according to The Hill.

“Our regulatory system is increasingly opaque and driven by political agendas. It lacks basic accountability, it often employs flawed data and questionable science, it ignores Congressional intent and too often prevents citizens or their representatives from weighing in on proposed rules in any meaningful way.”

Donohue said that the Chamber of Commerce is prepared to increase lobbying efforts to support Congressional passage of the Regulatory Accountability Act, legislation designed to make agencies consider lower-cost regulatory options.

The business advocate also called on Congress to step up its efforts to combat burdensome regulation by requiring agencies to fully disclose regulatory impact information and allow peer review. He also wants lawmakers to vote on costly rules.

“We currently have a government that has shifted into regulatory overdrive,” Donohue said. “The administration knows time is running out and there is every incentive and temptation to ram new rules through the pipeline and never mind the process, the research, the cost or the benefits.”

Donohue said new EPA ozone regulations could result in more than 600,000 annual job losses.

“How come we have those great broad numbers?” he asked. “Why don’t we know? Because we’re not able to get the facts out of the regulating agencies and it takes forever to sort through what they have done.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to fix an editing error.

A vote for Mary Landrieu is a vote against murdering puppies

If the welfare of children isn’t an emotionally charged enough concern to provoke you to vote Democrat, there’s always the welfare of puppies.

That’s the approach one advocacy group is taking in its ad promoting incumbent Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.

The Human Society Legislative Fund, which is behind the ad, offers up such a transparently maudlin doggie death fantasy that you have to wonder whether they understand that the voting age in this country is 18 years and older.

What kind of monster would allow a Louisiana dog to be “forced to fight other dogs” or “locked in a small cage for life in a puppy mill?”

Not Mary Landireu, that’s for sure. Landrieu, who was forced into a runoff election against Republican Bill Cassidy, has been polling far behind Cassidy as her pro-Obama reputation has taken a series of hits in the weeks leading up to, and after, the general election last month.

Landrieu is also the only thing standing between Republican racists and President Obama’s sure impeachment, a radio ad also intones.

Again, the voting age is 18 and older. Landrieu’s backers are wasting their money on these ads aimed at credulous children. The runoff election is slated for Saturday, Dec. 6.

Feds warn service members of possible ISIS attacks at home

Federal officials are urging current and former members of the military to review their online identifying information and do away with anything on social media that could draw attention amid threats that Islamic State terror sympathizers could target them in the homeland.

A joint bulletin issued by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security suggests that ISIS sympathizers in the U.S. could be preparing attacks copying events that took place in Canada, where two uniformed Canadian soldiers were killed in separate attacks last month.

“The FBI and DHS recommend that current and former members of the military review their online social media accounts for any information that might serve to attract the attention of ISIL [ISIS] and its supporters,” according to a copy of the document obtained by ABC News.

The bulletin states that overseas FBI investigations have turned up examples of terror suspects “assessing like-minded individuals who are willing and capable of conducting attacks against current and former U.S.-based members of the United States military.”

Federal officials issued similar warnings for U.S. military personnel in October.

“Soldiers, Government Civilians and Family Members are reminded to be vigilant of their surroundings and report suspicious activities to their respective military or local law enforcement,” said a bulletin issued at the time.

Michigan cop stops suspect for… walking with hands in pockets

A Pontiac, Michigan, man was stopped by police over Thanksgiving weekend for walking with his hands in his pockets on a 32-degree day.

Brandon McKean, who is black, was confronted by the officer after leaving a friend’s house. When, annoyed, he asked the officer why he’d been stopped, McKean was informed, “You were walking by.”

“OK?” McKean replied. “Walking by and doing what?”

“Well, you were making people nervous,” the officer said, as he pulled out his phone in reaction to McKean’s decision to record the encounter.

“By walking by?” McKean again questioned.

“Yeah, they said you had your hands in your pockets,” the officer replied.

“Wow, walking by having your hands in your pockets makes people nervous to call the police when it’s snowing outside?” McKean said.

The officer replied in the affirmative before going on to question, “What are you up to today?”

“Walking, with my hands in my pockets,” McKean replied.

When asked if it was an inconvenience to be stopped McKean informed the officer: “Hell, yeah, just because of the whole police situation going across the country, this is outrageous… There’s 10,000 people in Pontiac right now with their hands in their pockets.”

The cop’s rebuttal, “You’re right. But we do have a lot of robberies, so just checking on you.”