Paul Says No Way To Trump Debate

Republican Presidential hopeful Ron Paul says that he will not attend the GOP debate in Iowa to be hosted by Donald Trump on Dec. 27 because he says the reality star’s presence undermines the Nation’s highest office.

“The selection of a reality television personality to host a presidential debate that voters nationwide will be watching is beneath the office of the Presidency and flies in the face of that office’s history and dignity,” read a statement from the campaign. “Mr. Trump’s participation as moderator will distract from questions and answers concerning important issues such as the national economy, crushing federal government debt, the role of the federal government, foreign policy, and the like. To be sure, Mr. Trump’s participation will contribute to an unwanted circus-like atmosphere.”

The statement goes on to say that Trump made a mockery of the Presidency at a time when the Nation needs a strong leader more than ever, by “toying with the serious decision of whether to compete for our Nation’s highest office, a decision he appeared to make frivolous.”

Jon Huntsman has also declined publicly to participate in what his campaign called “Presidential Apprentice.”

Trump responded on TODAY Monday by calling the two “junk candidates” and vowing to run as an independent if he does not like the GOP selection.

Coburn: Gingrich Lacks Leadership Skills

Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said on Sunday that he cannot support GOP Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich because the former House speaker lacks leadership skills.

“I am not inclined to be a supporter of Newt Gingrich’s having served under him for four years and experienced his leadership. Because I found it lacking often times [sic],” Coburn said on Fox News. “There’s all kind of leaders, leaders that instill confidence and leaders that are somewhat abrupt, leaders that have one standard for the people that they are leading and a different standard for themselves. I will have difficulty supporting him for president of the United States.”

Coburn, who served in the House of Representatives from 1995 to 2001, said in March that he was looking for a President that would unite the country and raised questions about Gingrich’s confrontational style, according to The Hill.

With less than a month before the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses, Gingrich is drawing 25 percent support from likely Republican caucus-goers, a new Des Moines Register poll reports. He has enjoyed an 18 percentage point jump since the same poll in October.

GAO: Foster Children Prescribed Psych Drugs At Alarming Rates

The Federal government is failing to protect children in foster care from the devastating effects of potent, psychiatric medications that alter the mind, according to a new report.

A report filed in the Government Accountability Office (GAO) says that thousands of foster children across the Nation are being prescribed powerful psychiatric medications at doses that exceed the maximum levels approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Within that number there is a subgroup that’s taking five or more psychiatric drugs simultaneously despite potential safety issues. Some of the drugs are not even approved for psychiatric use by the FDA.

The report’s findings are the result of a two-year probe featuring five States: Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon and Texas. Of the approximately 100,000 foster kids studied, investigators found that about one-third were prescribed at least one psychiatric drug.

The States spent more than $375 million for prescriptions provided through fee-for-service programs to foster and non-foster children. The report says that while the high cost does not necessarily show that doctors prescribe the drugs inappropriately for financial gain, there is no evidence that it was safe to take five or more psychiatric drugs in adults or children; yet hundreds of both foster and non-foster children were prescribed such a medication regimen.

Lawmakers: Child Farm Rules, Urban Assault On Rural Life

New child labor rules proposed by the Department of Labor (DOL) last month that would prevent children under the age of 16 from performing certain farm work have raised concerns among many lawmakers.

The first new child labor regulations issued by the DOL in 40 years propose barring children under the age of 16 from performing tasks such as driving tractors, handling pesticides and branding cattle on farms that have grown to the point of commercialization. The rules do not apply to small, family-owned farms.

A group of more than 70 lawmakers in the House, led by Representative Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.), sent a recent letter to the DOL that said the rule “challenges the conventional wisdom of what defines a family farm in the United States,” according to The Hill. The lawmakers believe that the rules are also an assault on a deeply rural-American way of life by urban lawmakers.

“You’ve got a president of the United States … from Chicago, you’ve got a director for secretary of Labor who’s pushing this from Los Angeles, and you have to think to yourself, do you have any idea what it’s like not just to run an agricultural business in a rural state … but to raise a family in one?” asked Rehberg.

The Labor Department has been flooded with more than 6,000 comments about the new rules. Rehberg said the next move should be to withdraw the proposed changes.

SOPA Alternative Introduced

A bipartisan group of lawmakers has proposed an alternative to controversial online piracy bills currently pending in both chambers of Congress.

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which would enable the government and copyright holders to demand third parties delete links to foreign websites deemed rogue or dedicated to copyright infringement, has been labeled by critics as an assault on free speech and an underhanded government attempt to censor the Internet.

The alternate proposal would authorize the International Trade Commission (ITC) to investigate and issue cease-and-desist orders against foreign websites that provide pirated content or sell counterfeit goods. Instead of allowing third parties to sweep in and delete at will, the ITC would be tasked with providing proof that copyright violations occurred, according to The Hill.

As the new proposals are introduced, organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce continue in their vehement support of SOPA. Among those in opposition to the bill are free speech advocates, the Libertarian party, and many GOP and Democratic lawmakers, as well as software and Web-based communications companies.

Branstad: Paul, Gingrich Strong In Iowa

In the opinion of Republican Governor Terry Branstad of Iowa, one month away from the caucus, GOP Presidential candidate Ron Paul has the strongest organization in the State.

“Ron Paul has got probably the best organization and has a very loyal following. He’s got more yard signs and bumper stickers than anybody else,” he said. “I don’t think he’ll win, but I think he will get 15 to 18 percent. The person who wins is going to probably get 25 percent plus.”

The Iowa governor believes Newt Gingrich could win the Jan. 3 caucuses depending on his performance in the last two debates, according to POLITICO.

“The debates have had more to do with this than anything else,” he said. “I still think organization matters, and yet more people are watching the debates.”

Branstad said that he believes of the seven potential candidates, none will procure more than 30 percent of his State’s electorate.

Gingrich has not spent a great deal of time in the Iowa and he did not open his Iowa campaign headquarters until last Wednesday, but Branstad believes his voters will be those social conservatives who have not fallen in line with any one candidate.

The Iowa governor has not offered support to any of the GOP candidates in the race.

Lady Gaga Could Soon Be On Postage

In September, the United States Postal Service (USPS) waived a rule that required stamp honorees to be at least five years deceased, the result: The likes of Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Billy Graham, Steve Jobs, Lady Gaga and others may soon adorn your postage stamps.

The decision was made in an effort to boost interest and sagging sales, postal officials asked customers to use social media or mail, to nominate an American or American-related subjects that “made enduring contributions to the United States of America.”

A panel made up of former postal officials, artists, designers and congressional staffers, reviews more than 40,000 suggestions and selects about 50 suggestions for new stamps for consideration each year. The Postal Service then spends about $40,000 to develop and produce each new stamp. Though it does not pay license fees for the images of a character or famous person, it does pay about $5,000 to artists and designers to produce the final image.

USPS has received at least 1,500 submissions by mail and more than 1,000 through social media that fit its new, less restrictive criteria.

Stamps generate between $250 million and $300 million in annual sales, a fraction of total postal revenues, according to The Washington Post.

Senate Passes Indefinite Detention Bill With ‘Meaningless’ Changes

On Thursday evening, the Senate passed a $662 billion Defense bill, which included controversial provisions for the detention of American citizens on U.S. soil.

The bill passed 93-7, after an agreement was reached to add compromise language on the detention of U.S. citizens and terror suspects on U.S. soil. The compromise, proposed by Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), states that “nothing in the bill changes current law relating to the detention of U.S. citizens and legal aliens,” but this measure is meaningless according to some opponents of the bill.

Two provisions that would have specifically blocked the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens on American soil and ensured “the military won’t be roaming our streets looking for suspected terrorists” were barred with the passage of the bill.

Many opponents of the legislation say language included in the bill that defines the homeland as a part of the battlefield in the ill-defined War on Terror is in direct violation of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 (18 U.S.C. Section 1385):

Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.

On Nov. 30, Senator Rand Paul spoke on the Senate floor against the act, saying that even the discussion of ending due process of law for any citizen is a disturbing reaction to an endless war.

Former Reagan Administration official and columnist Paul Craig Roberts said the provisions are the beginnings of the repeal of the U.S. Constitution and that the country is on its way to becoming a police state.

“Only two Republicans in the Senate voted against this amendment, only two, so what do we know? We now have a Republican party that is a Gestapo party,” he said on RTAmerica.

Because the provisions also offer revisions of banned torture policies, the Administration of Barack Obama has threatened to veto the bill.

Research: Most Read News By Accident

New research from the University of Missouri finds that Internet users are increasingly less likely to seek out news stories online, but more often read the news serendipitously.

The research contends that Internet users often do not make the conscious decision to read news online, but they come across news when they are searching for other information or doing non-news related activities on the Internet, such as shopping or visiting social networking sites.

Researcher Borchuluun Yadamsuren surveyed nearly 150 respondents with further interviews of 20 of those respondents to understand their incidental exposure to online news. She found that respondents experience exposure to online news in three different contexts: They come across interesting news stories while they visit online news sites; they see news stories while doing non-news related activities such as checking email and visiting Facebook and other social networking sites; and they stumble upon “unusual,” “weird,” “interesting,” “bizarre,”  “unexpected,” “outrageous” or “off-the-wall” news stories while doing Internet searches for other topics.

“Incidental exposure to online news is becoming a major way for many people to receive information about news events,” Yadamsuren said. “However, many people don’t realize how their news reading behavior is shifting to more serendipitous discovery.”

The researcher believes that the changing ways in which people discover news are also impacting what is perceived to be reliable reporting as many people now hold a much broader perception of news that goes beyond what is reported by professional journalists.

Climate Activists Call Global Warming ‘Ethical’ Issue

A coalition of civic leaders, elected officials, and labor, environmental and social activists launched a campaign earlier this week aimed at convincing politicians that they should curb greenhouse gas emissions for moral and ethical reasons.

The initiative, called the Climate Ethics Campaign, was launched to coincide with the first week of international climate talks now underway in Durban, South Africa.

“People from all walks of life across the U.S. are extremely concerned about global warming. But progress has stalled because our government keeps debating whether addressing the issue makes economic sense and whether the science is settled,” said Bob Doppelt, executive director of The Resource Innovation Group and coordinator of the Climate Ethics Campaign.

The campaign was launched at an event in Washington, D.C., featuring speakers including Representative Henry Waxman (D-Calif.); Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.); Virginia State Senator Mary Margaret Whipple; Wood Turner, vice president for Sustainability Innovation at Stonyfield Farm; the Rev. Jim Ball, vice president of the Evangelical Environmental Network; Hilary O. Shelton, director of the NAACP Washington Bureau and senior vice president for Advocacy and Policy; Robert Pestronk, executive director of National Association of County and City Health Officials; and others.

More than 1,200 current and former elected officials as well as representatives from the business, labor, youth, conservation, academic, racial and social justice, physical and psychological health, development, and faith communities nationwide have pledged support to the campaign.

Paul Accuses Gingrich Of ‘Serial Hypocrisy’

A new Ron Paul Presidential campaign advertisement distributed online uses former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s own statements throughout to paint him as a flip-flopping political opportunist.

Much of the ad is in Gingrich’s own voice. After a few of Gingrich’s statements, the ad shows an image of him sitting on a loveseat beside former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) while the two shared a laugh over their agreement concerning global warming.

The ad also features Gingrich’s assault on the budget proposal presented by Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), and it mentions the former Speaker’s lobbying ties to government mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the entities that perpetuated the financial crisis and recession. Also included is commentary on the former Speaker’s lobbying ties to healthcare firms prior to his support of an individual mandate as part of healthcare reform.

“Our campaign is making a bold move to debunk the myth that the Newt we are seeing on the 2012 campaign trail is the conservative he has been touted to be all along. This step we are taking is necessary, as voters are seeking authenticity among conservatives who are able to show a decades-long career of consistently walking the walk of Constitutional principles, limited government, and promoting sound money and economic policy. Ron Paul is the only Republican presidential candidate with that record,” said Ron Paul 2012 National Campaign Chairman Jesse Benton in a press release.

The ad concludes by suggesting voters ask Gingrich: “What will you tell me next time?”

Federal Government: Americans Can Be Killed, Detained If They Threaten Us

Citizens of the United States are legitimate military targets when they take up arms with al-Qaida, top national security lawyers in the Administration of Barack Obama said Thursday.

Asked about the CIA murder of anti-American alleged terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki in September, Pentagon lawyer Jeh Johnson said only the executive branch, not the courts, is equipped to make military battlefield targeting decisions about who qualifies as an enemy. Administration lawyers also say that U.S. citizens do not have immunity when they are at war with the United States.

The Obama Administration lawyers’ remarks come as many Americans are already in panic over what is seen as an assault on personal liberty that Congress is attempting to add to the National Defense Authorization Act S.1867. The new provisions would allow the military to detain American citizens without due process of law and hold them indefinitely if they are perceived to be a threat.

Two new amendments that would attempt to halt the indefinite detention of American citizens on United States soil under a section of the National Defense Authorization Act have been introduced and could be voted on by the end of the day.

Fed Action May Be Global Bailout

The Bank of Canada, the Bank of England, the Bank of Japan, the European Central Bank (ECB), the United States Federal Reserve and the Swiss National Bank on Wednesday announced a coordinated attempt to provide liquidity support to the global financial system to avert further global financial distress.

The Federal Reserve, in a morning press release, said that it will take measures to provide easier access for European banks that hold dollar-denominated currencies for dollar loans to U.S. currency. The banks have agreed to lower the pricing on the existing temporary U.S. dollar liquidity swap arrangements by 50 basis points, effective until Feb. 1, 2013.

“The purpose of these actions is to ease strains in financial markets and thereby mitigate the effects of such strains on the supply of credit to households and businesses and so help foster economic activity,” the Federal Reserve said.

The actions of increased liquidity of the dollar are aimed at easing reservations banks have regarding lending to one another and individuals while the United States receives other currencies, including the battered euro, for dollar-denominated loans.

Critics of the measure say that calling the plan “coordinated action” is a farce, because it masks and fails to address address deeply rooted European financial weaknesses. A Market Watch opinion piece by Washington Bureau Chief Steve Goldstein says that the move is little more than global quantitative easing, meaning a global Federal Reserve bailout.

Goldstein writes:

That money printing, called quantitative easing, is old hat at the Fed, as well as at the Bank of England and the Bank of Japan. The results are admittedly debatable, but in ECB circles it’s unthinkable to contemplate, as the ghost of the Weimar Republic continues to haunt German policy makers.

Britain Ends Diplomatic Relations With Iran

Britain has ordered its entire diplomatic staff to be removed from Iran after supporters of Iranian ruling clerics attacked the British Embassy and residential compound in Tehran.

On Wednesday, other European Union member countries were scheduled to meet to decide whether their embassies would remain open in light of the attack that left no doubt that anti-Western sentiment is growing in Iran. Norway closed its embassy for the day on Wednesday, according to The Washington Post.

“The PM and Foreign Secretary have made clear that ensuring the safety of our staff and their families is our immediate priority,” said a statement from British officials. “We do not comment on our contingency plans.”

Iranian officials say that the disruption at the British Embassy is reflective of worsening Iranian national opinion about Western nations.

In addition to bringing diplomats out of Iran, the United Kingdom has ordered the closure of the Iranian embassy in London and the departure from Britain of all Iranian staff, according to The Telegraph.

Criminal Sues Hostages For Emotional Stress

A man who broke into the home of a Kansas couple and took them hostage is suing the couple for breach of contract to cover emotional stress and medical bills.

The criminal, Jesse Dimmick of Denver, is serving an 11-year sentence after breaking into Jared and Lindsay Rowley’s Topeka-area home in September 2009. Authorities were pursuing the man because he was wanted for questioning in the beating death of a Colorado man, according to The Associated Press.

Dimmick says he told the couple he was being chased by someone, most likely the police, who wanted to kill him and that he needed to take refuge in their home. The couple reportedly fed the knife-wielding invader snacks and watched movies with him until he fell asleep. They then escaped their home unharmed.

Dimmick was convicted of four felonies, including two counts of kidnapping. Now, he alleges that he and his captives had an oral contract which they breached by alerting police. In handwritten court documents he stated: “I, the defendant, asked the Rowleys to hide me because I feared for my life. I offered the Rowleys an unspecified amount of money which they agreed upon, therefore forging a legally binding oral contract.”

The criminal wants the couple to pay $235,000, including $160,000 for his hospital bills incurred after he was shot in the back by police and an additional $75,000 for emotional stress.

Huntsman: Cain Scandals Hurting GOP

Republican Presidential primary candidate Jon Huntsman suggested in a recent interview that his sex scandal-ridden fellow candidate, Herman Cain, is hurting the entire Republican field and distracting voters from the real issues.

Speaking of the latest allegation against Cain involving a 13-year extramarital affair, Huntsman said it is time for the former CEO rethink his candidacy.

“Every time another accusation comes up, it diminishes our ability to stay focused on the issues that really do matter for the American people. And I think that’s a disservice to the voters,” Huntsman told The Boston Globe.

Cain has denied that he had any sexual involvement with the latest accuser. He insists he and the woman were involved in a “friendship relationship” and that he helped her financially.

“I have spoken directly to the American people and have been 100% honest with them. My plan is to continue to spread my vision on how I would renew America and keep her safe. I will not fight false claims as it is not what America needs or wants,” Cain said in a statement Monday.

Cain reportedly has decided to “reassess” his candidacy “over the next several days.” But despite some speculation he will drop out of the race, campaign manager Marc Bloc said only Cain’s wife and lack of support could make him give up, according to ABC News.

NLRB Moves Forward With Union Election Rule Change

On Wednesday, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) voted to move forward with portions of a union election rule after the board’s only Republican member showed up to vote in opposition.

Democratic members of the labor board, Chairman Mark Pearce and Craig Becker, voted to advance the proposal, and Brian Hayes, a Republican, voted no. There was some speculation that Hayes would throw a wrench into the vote by simply refusing to participate, as he has threatened recently to resign over the union election rule.

Labor unions say the new rule will help reduce delays in union elections, but business groups argue it gives employers little time to talk to their employees about unionization before voting takes place, according to The Hill.

Hayes said that the Democratic members of the NLRB locked him out of the deliberations over the union rule in a bid to pass it by the end of the year.

The NLRB did not consider the full union election rule Wednesday, and voted only on portions that limit litigation surrounding union elections. The members of the NLRB must finish voting on other measures concerning the rule by the end of the year because Becker’s appointment expires at the end of the year. When Becker’s time is up or if Hayes resigns, it would leave the board with only two members, denying it the three-member quorum required for rules votes by a 2010 Supreme Court decision.

Union Company Working To Eliminate High Workers

Tower Defense and Aerospace, a Detroit company that makes parts for tanks and Humvees for the military as well as civilian aircraft is accused of hiring workers who drank and smoked marijuana on the job.

Last Tuesday, a Detroit affiliate of Fox aired a report that showed workers rolling blunts and drinking alcohol in the parking lot of the plant during their lunch break.

Since the story broke, the company, which receives defense contracts worth several million dollars each year from the Federal government, reportedly has fired 17 employees and is conducting an investigation into the incidents. The company issued a statement saying that it was “working as expeditiously as possible within the bounds of the legal union contract” to eliminate employees who get high on company time and replace them.

The company’s CEO Mark Malcolm said that the problem employees were inherited when Tower was taken over by new owners last April.

“It is important to remember that the overwhelming majority of employees are dedicated and hard working,” he said. “None of the suspended employees were hired by Tower; all were inherited in the acquisition.”

Salon: Ron Paul Would Make The Reagan Revolution Look Like The New Deal

An opinion piece published by Salon accuses GOP Presidential candidate Ron Paul as being a “phony populist” and a true friend of the wealthiest Americans.

Author Gary Weiss, investigative journalist and outspoken Wall Street critic, begins his article by citing remarks Paul made to Occupy protesters who interrupted a speech in Keene, N.H., last week.

Weiss describes the incident as “…the epiphany of the most dreadful presidential campaign in history…” before implicating Paul for being on the radical right, behind the times on foreign policy and a danger to middle-class and poor Americans.

Paul told the Keene hecklers that he was very much on the side of the 99 percent, but that government in the United States was more responsible for the economic disparity than those who work on Wall Street. The candidate continually reiterates his belief that it is the government who controls the money supply and provides massive bailouts to manipulate free markets. Weiss, however, contends in his article that Paul’s message is little more than impressive showmanship at best and, at worst, total fraud.

Of the candidate’s “Plan To Restore America,” which calls for massive reduction in government spending by trimming bloated bureaucracies, Weiss writes:

“This is not a plan for the 99 percent. It is about as much of a 1 percent-oriented ideological meat cleaver as you can find anywhere in the annals of politics.”

Weiss’s article comes just two days after Bloomberg published a long-anticipated report detailing how the Federal Reserve — Paul’s sworn enemy — secretly provided an estimated $13 billion of income to big banks by allowing them to take advantage of below-market rates during the 2007-2008 financial crises.

A statement on Paul’s website says of the findings: “While Fed officials say that almost all of the loans were repaid and there have been no losses, details suggest taxpayers paid a price beyond dollars as the secret funding helped preserve a broken status quo and enabled the biggest banks to grow even bigger.”

Aerial Drones May Be Coming To Your Town

Drones similar to those used by the military may soon be operated in civil airspace in the United States by law enforcement officials and civilians.

Police departments in Texas, Florida and Minnesota have expressed interest in using drone aircraft to spot runaway criminals on rooftops or to track them at night and conduct surveillance by using the robotic aircraft’s heat-seeking cameras.

A new drone, called Qube, which is designed specifically for civilian and law enforcement use, was unveiled last month at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Chicago. The new aircraft weighs 5 1/2 pounds, fits in the trunk of a car and is controlled remotely by a tablet computer.

According to Los Angeles Times, widespread use of unmanned aircraft like the Qube in law enforcement and civilian applications is under review by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as the agency works to ensure that the machines can safely share airspace with one another and manned aircraft.

Beyond law enforcement applications, the drones could be available for a number of civilian uses. Many people have serious privacy concerns about the camera-laden, unmanned aircraft.

‘Most Powerful’ Openly Gay Politician Announces Retirement

Democratic Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts announced Monday that he will not seek re-election in 2012, ending a 32-year career in the House.

Frank, the top Democrat on the Financial Services Committee, will leave a political legacy most likely highlighted by the sweeping Wall Street regulatory reform that he drafted with former Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) which was enacted last year. The Dodd-Frank bill clamped down on lending practices and expanded consumer protections in an effort to prevent a repeat of the 2008 economic meltdown.

The 71-year-old Congressman has also been recognized as the Nation’s most powerful openly homosexual elected official. Frank was involved in a scandal two decades ago when he used his Congressional status on behalf of a male prostitute whom he had employed as a personal aide.

“I should have known better. I do now, but it’s a little too late,” Frank said at the time, according to The Associated Press.

Frank’s retirement announcement will create a scramble among Democrats to replace the longtime Massachusetts lawmaker as the ranking member on the Financial Services Committee. Representative Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) is technically next in line as the ranking member on that committee.