Glacier Shrank Because Of Theft

Humans may, after all, be responsible for the retreat of glacial ice, though not via global warming.

Police in Chile have arrested a man on suspicion of stealing five tons of ice from the Jorge Montt glacier in the Patagonia region to sell as designer ice cubes in bars and restaurants, according to The Guardian.

The officers intercepted a truck in Chile last Friday that contained what they believe was more than $5,000 worth of illicit ice allegedly bound for bars and restaurants in the capital, Santiago.

The driver is charged with theft, and authorities are considering adding violation of national monuments to the charge.

Jorge Montt, part of the Bernardo O’Higgins national park, has retreated by half a mile a year, making it one of the world’s fastest-shrinking glaciers, according to scientists. Greens have regularly used the glacier to help prove the case of global warming.

Gingrich May Contest Florida Primary

Newt Gingrich is reportedly contesting the Florida primary results because of a Republican National Committee rule that says there can be no winner-take-all State primaries prior to April 1.

The Gingrich campaign is demanding that Mitt Romney split the 50 delegates that he won in the State based on percentage, according to a Fox News report.

The RNC sent a warning to the Republican Party of Florida stating that a winner-take-all States could not have a primary until April 1, but says it has no further authority to intervene unless Gingrich files a proper contest to the results.

Romney had a double-digit victory in Florida, gaining 46 percent of the vote to Gingrich’s 32 percent.  Rick Santorum received 13 percent of the vote, and Ron Paul finished with 7 percent.

Research Proves Hand Washing, Prevention More Effective Than Vaccination

If a flu pandemic were to spread throughout the United States, researchers at the University of Michigan say that masks and hand hygiene — not vaccines — could cut the spread of the illness by up to 75 percent.

The study’s researchers directed students at the University of Michigan to wear surgical masks and practice good hand hygiene in residence halls for flu prevention, said Allison Aiello, associate professor of epidemiology in the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

The study took place during flu seasons from 2006 to 2007 and 2008 to 2009. During the two flu seasons, the researchers recruited more than 1,000 students in residence halls. The students were assigned to groups who wore masks, wore masks and practiced hand hygiene, or did neither. They were monitored for the presence of flu symptoms or the flu. The group that did both reported far fewer flu-like illnesses than the other two groups.

“This means masks and hand hygiene may be a good measure for preventing transmissions in crowded living quarters,” said Aiello. “In a pandemic situation where compliance may be significantly higher than in controlled studies, masks and hand hygiene together may have even higher preventative implications?”

The study’s researchers said that vaccines would likely be unavailable in a pandemic situation, and personal hygiene and prevention would likely be the first line of defense. However, research published in The Lancet last year provides statistics that may actually reaffirm the importance of the University of Michigan study. The article says that the trivalent inactivated vaccine (TIV) — which accounts for about 90 percent of flu vaccines given in the United States — had only 59 percent effectiveness in healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 65 when there is not a pandemic.

During a pandemic, vaccines may actually contribute to the spread of illness, according to Dr. Eleanora I. McBean’s 1977 book Swine Flu Expose in which she writes of the influenza pandemic of 1918: “The flu of 1918 was caused by the conglomeration of diseases which the sinister variety of vaccines brought on. Practically everyone in the world had been propagandized into submitting to all the vaccine that were invented –the surplus stock left over from World War I which was the first war in which all the vaccines were used. The vaccinated got the flu and the unvaccinated didn’t. I was one of the unvaccinated and I didn’t get the flu. I didn’t see an unvaccinated person who got the flu.”

Soros: Romney, Obama The Same

Billionaire investor George Soros in an interview with Reuters last week pointed out what many conservatives have been afraid to admit to themselves as the Republican Presidential primary drags on: Mitt Romney and Barack Obama really aren’t that different.

“Well, look, either you’ll have an extremist conservative, be it Gingrich or Santorum, in which case I think it will make a big difference which of the two comes in,” he said. “If it’s between Obama and Romney, there isn’t all that much difference except for the crowd that they bring with them.”

Soros went on to say that he believes Romney would have to have Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum as a Vice President to really make much of a conservative impact. He said he does, however, believe that Romney will change tax policy in the favor of wealthy Americans.

Report Analyzes Terrorism Trends

A new report by the Homeland Security-funded National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Response to Terrorism (START) details trends in terrorism and other crimes throughout the United States from 1970 to 2008.

The report finds that during the 38-year span, about one-third of all terrorist attacks occurred in five metropolitan U.S. counties.

The largest numbers of events were clustered around major cities:

  • Manhattan, N.Y. (343 attacks)
  • Los Angeles County, Calif. (156 attacks)
  • Miami-Dade County, Fla. (103 attacks)
  • San Francisco County, Calif. (99 attacks)
  • Washington, D.C. (79 attacks)

Though the report says that most terror events took place in major metropolitan areas for the time period, it concedes that terrorism events spurred on mostly by “domestic actors” contributed to terrorism trends in more rural areas:

 

While large, urban counties such as Manhattan and Los Angeles have remained hot spots of terrorist activities across decades, the START researchers discovered that smaller, more rural counties such as Maricopa County, Ariz. – which includes Phoenix – have emerged as hot spots in recent years as domestic terrorism there has increased.

 

The researchers defined a hotspot as a county that experienced more than six terrorist attacks over the time period examined. The report also breaks down the terror activity by geographical regions and found that areas are usually prone to specific types of terror attacks, “For example, Lubbock County, Texas, only experienced extreme right-wing terrorism while the Bronx, New York, only experienced extreme left-wing terrorism.”

As for trends over time, the researchers said that the 1970s were dominated by extreme left-wing terrorist attacks, but they believed far left-wing terrorism in the United States is almost entirely limited to the 1970s with few events in the 1980s and virtually no events after that. They blamed far-right groups for the largest number of attacks in the 1990s and said single-issue attacks were dispersed across the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s.

The report categorizes terrorists in the following ways: extreme right-wing, extreme left-wing, religious, ethno-nationalist/separatist and single issue.

Congressional Insider Trading Bill Gains Amendments, Support

Senator Rand Paul (R.-Ky.) introduced on Tuesday amendments to the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act that the lawmaker says would bring an end to the revolving door between Federal employees and companies seeking Federal loans.

“These amendments are recognizing what the authors of these bills have been discussing, that people should not profit off of their involvement in government. They shouldn’t profit off of special relationships. They shouldn’t profit off of special knowledge they gain in the function of serving the people,” Paul said on the Senate floor.

Paul said that the bill should apply to the current Presidential Administration, “…I don’t believe people who are multimillionaires and billionaires should use the apparatus of government as was used in the loans that were given to Solyndra by someone who is profiting off of their relationship and ties to the President, profiting off of people who used to work for these companies now, who are now employed in the administration and using these connections to get taxpayer money to go to private individuals.”

The bill, which would put provisions in place to end Congressional insider trading, has had healthy support in the Senate; and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) plans to bring a version of STOCK to his chamber later this month.

Ron Paul Likely To Score Delegates

The Ron Paul Presidential campaign was reported to have largely ignored playing a key campaign role in Florida’s Republican primary, but has followed a strategy that will likely pay off this week.

According to The Christian-Science Monitor, the champion of liberty will likely win more delegates to the 2012 GOP convention this week than Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum. In fact, the news outlet says, Paul likely will have more delegates than the two combined.

As his rivals were embroiled in a battle for Florida’s winner-take-all delegates, Paul continued a strategy which many pundits have labeled as odd.

Paul has made visits to Nevada, Colorado and Maine in an effort to garner support in the caucus States. The candidate says he is happy with the outcome of his strategy.

Linda Bean, heiress to Maine outfitter L.L. Bean, said she supported Paul last Saturday as the candidate made a campaign swing through the State.

On Tuesday, as the Florida primary was under way, Paul was actively campaigning in Colorado.

Does The Muslim World Still Want Salman Rushdie Dead?

In 1989, a novel penned by British Indian novelist and essayist Salman Rushdie caused Iran’s then-supreme leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s declaration of a fatwa­ — a legal opinion or ruling issued by an Islamic scholar — calling “good Muslims” to assassinate the author. Now, more than two decades after the novel’s publication, the Islamic community is still up in arms over The Satanic Verses.

Rushdie’s novel has been cited by critics as one of the author’s most galvanizing works. Set in a modern world filled with destruction, mayhem and miracles, the novel begins with a brutal terror attack on a London-bound airline flight. After the plane explodes just over the English Channel, two opposing antagonists fall to Earth: Gibreel Farishta, India’s biggest star, and Saladin Chamcha, an expatriate returning from his first visit to Bombay in 15 years. When the two wash up on the snowy sands of an English beach, Rushdie’s fiction draws on metamorphoses, dreams and revelations to lead the reader to opposing views of good and evil.

The Islamic world vehemently opposed Rushdie’s novel, which was characterized by members of the Muslim faith as an irreverent depiction of the prophet Muhammad. The title of the novel refers to verses originally included by Muhammad in the Quran, in which the prophet discussed three female deities, contradicting the Muslim monotheistic beliefs held today. Muhammad later redacted verses that mentioned the deities and said that Satan had deceived him into including the verses, according to scholars. It is unclear, though, how long the deities remained a part of the Muslim faith.

Muslims were angered not only because the title of Rushdie’s novel pointed out an alleged contradiction in their faith, but also because he offers some subtle and some very evident criticisms of the Muslim faith throughout the novel.

As a result of the Islamic backlash, the novel was banned in 12 countries (India, Bangladesh, Sudan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Thailand, Tanzania, Indonesia, Singapore, Venezuela and Pakistan), and Rushdie was forced to live under constant police protection in the United Kingdom. In 1989, the U.K and Iran broke diplomatic ties over the ordeal.

Last week, at Asia’s largest literary festival in India, the author was expected to address the crowd via a video link, after deciding not to travel to the country in person following several death threats. The video, however, was cut by the owner of the hotel where the event was hosted after being urged to do so by Indian officials.

“There are a large number of people averse to this video link inside this property. They have threatened violence,” Ram Pratap Singh, owner of the hotel at which the festival was held, told the large crowd. “This is necessary to avoid harm to all of you.”

The country’s unwillingness to allow Rushdie to be heard has now sparked a torrent of new Muslim-centric controversy against the author. On Tuesday, Iran used IRNA, its state-run media outlet, to reiterate the Muslim world’s distaste for the author. The “special report” cites a press conference given by India’s Press Council chairman Markandey Katju, who referred to the Booker Prize-winning author as a “substandard and poor writer.”

In closing the piece, quoting a portion of Katju’s rant against Rushdie, the Iranian state-run media takes a swing at the Western world: “Since the overwhelming number of Indians are deeply religious, unlike in the West where the hold of religion has considerably weakened, care must be taken in India not to insult any religious figure directly or indirectly.”

Rushdie, who now resides in New York, concluded after the debacle in India that traveling to the literary event may not have actually put his life in danger. On Jan. 21, the author said in a Twitter post: “‘Rajasthan police invented plot to keep away Rushdie’ I’ve investigated, & believe that I was indeed lied to. I am outraged and very angry.”

It was reported that Iranian officials ended the call for Rushdie’s death in October 1998. But some people have wondered whether Iran’s recent growing tensions with the West and recent reports of the country’s alleged attempts and willingness to kill targets on U.S. soil will lead to a renewal of the author’s Islamic death sentence.

War Rhetoric Heating Up

U.S. officials say that Iran, in response to mounting tension from the West, is prepared to launch terrorist attacks within the borders of the United States.

According to The Washington Post, National Intelligence Director James Clapper Jr. said in a recent prepared testimony that the alleged Iranian plan to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador in Washington, D.C., represents a growing willingness from top Iranian officials to authorize attacks against the United States.

The assessment was delivered during the U.S. intelligence community’s yearly overview of the Nation’s top perceived security threats.

As the aggressive rhetoric toward Iran continues to come from U.S. officials, high-ranking members of the Islamic Republic are pushing back through the country’s state-run media. A recent story in IRNA, quotes Iran’s National Security Council Secretary Saeed Jalili saying that the West is not afraid of nuclear activities in the country, but rather of Islamic thought.

“Global arrogance is angry with Iran’s prominent role in the Muslim world,” he said.

As the tensions heat up, DEBKA-Net-Weekly reported that military and Washington sources have said that the Administration of Barack Obama has “secretly ordered US air, naval and marine forces to build up heavy concentrations on two strategic islands – Socotra, which is part of a Yemeni archipelago in the Indian Ocean, and the Omani island of Masirah at the southern exit of the Strait of Hormuz.”

According to the intelligence and terrorism site, up to 100,000 U.S. troops will be present in the region by early March.

PayPal Founders Throw Money To Paul Campaign

Co-founders of the online payment company PayPal, which is currently owned by eBay Inc. have reportedly donated funding to Endorse Liberty, a Super PAC supporting Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul.

According to Reuters, the PAC announced on Tuesday that PayPal co-founders Peter Thiel and Luke Nosek and Scott Banister threw in money alongside Internet advertising veteran Stephen Oskoui and entrepreneur Jeffrey Harmon, who founded Endorse Liberty in November.

“Too often in this country we learn things the hard way … With its unsustainable deficits, government spending is heading down the same path. Men and women who want freedom and growth should take action. A good place to start is voting for Ron Paul,” Thiel said in a statement.

Endorse Liberty has reported spending about $3.3 million promoting Paul by setting up YouTube channels, buying ads from Google and Facebook and StumbleUpon and building a Web presence.

 

Gingrich: Will Not Debate Obama With Reporters Moderating

Newt Gingrich said on Monday that if he were the Republican Presidential nominee, he would skip any debate against Barack Obama that was to be moderated by reporters.

“As your nominee, I will not accept debates in the fall in which the reporters are the moderators,” Gingrich said at a rally in Pensacola, according to MSNBC. “We don’t need to have a second Obama person at the debate.”

The line falls in step with Gingrich’s repeated assault on the media who first attacked him over his marital infidelity and questioned his conservative ideals.

 

Polls: Romney Leading In Florida As Primary Begins

Polls released Saturday and Sunday show Mitt Romney holding a strong first in the Republican race leading into the Florida primary.

In The Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald/Tampa Bay Times poll released Saturday night, Romney led Gingrich 42 percent to 31 percent, while an NBC News/Marist poll released Sunday showed Romney leading 42 percent to 27 percent.

Romney has had strong organization in Florida and has been helped by the attack conservative media led on Newt Gingrich following his South Carolina win. Most pundits say that the Florida primary will be Gingrich’s last chance to strengthen his campaign.

Ron Paul has largely focused his attention outside of the Sunshine State in a strategic effort to pick up delegates in other States where his poll numbers look better.

“It’s just so expensive, and we figure, spending $9-$12 million in ads might not be worth it,” Paul campaign manager John Tate told Business Insider. “We’re spending our money more wisely….Spending half a million dollars to win all of North Dakota’s delegates is a lot more efficient than spending $12 million to maybe win some of Florida’s delegates.”

FDA Sued For Hacking Employee Email

A group of scientists and doctors who were employed by the Food and Drug Administration are suing the agency after it monitored their personal email.

According to The Washington Post, the FDA began monitoring the staffers when they warned Congress that the agency was approving medical devices that they said posed unacceptable risks to patients.

The lawsuit alleges that the information collected from the employee’s personal email beginning in January 2009 contributed to the harassment and firing of six FDA employees. The agency also scoured the employees’ computers for documents related to the communications with Congress.

Though FDA computers display a message stating that employees have no reasonable expectation of privacy when using the machines, the employees say that accessing their personal emails was a violation of Constitutional rights.

“Who would have thought that they would have the nerve to be monitoring my communications to Congress?” Robert C. Smith, one of the plaintiffs in the suit, a former radiology professor at Yale and Cornell universities and former FDA device reviewer, told the newspaper. “How dare they?”

The FDA Office of Device Evaluation said they first made internal complaints beginning in 2007 that the agency had approved or was near approving at least a dozen radiological devices, the effectiveness of which not proven, posing risks to millions of patients.

According to experts, the biggest legal issues in the case are whether the monitoring was legal and what level of monitoring on government computers is reasonable as technology increasingly blurs the lines between work and private life.

China Bests United States In Several Industries

A new report by 24/7 Wall St. details a number of industries in which the United States once led world production that are now dominated by China.

China’s gross domestic product is measured at about $6.5 trillion and America’s GDP is more than $15.2 trillion, according to the International Monetary Fund. Last year, China’s economy expanded at more than 9 percent. America’s GDP grew only 2 percent. Most economists expect China’s economy to surpass the United States’ in the next decade or two.

The eight industries in which China has already outperformed the United States are:

1. Steel
China production: 627 million metric tons in 2010
U.S. production: 80 million metric tons in 2010
U.S. position: Third

2. Cotton
China production: 7.3 million metric tons in 2011
U.S. production: 3.4 million metric tons in 2011
U.S. position: Third

3. Initial Public Offerings
China production: $73 billion raised in 2011
U.S. production: $30.7 billion raised in 2011
U.S. position: Second

4. Tobacco
China production: 3 million metric tons in 2010
U.S. production: 0.33 million metric tons in 2010
U.S. position: Fourth

5. Autos
China production: 18.3 million autos in 2010
U.S. production: 7.8 million autos in 2010
U.S. position: Third

6. Beer Production
China production: 443.8 million hectoliters in 2010
U.S. production: 227.8 million hectoliters in 2010
U.S. position: Second

7. High-Technology Exports
China production: $348 billion in 2009
U.S. production: $142 billion in 2009
U.S. position: Second

8. Coal Production
China production: 3.24 billion short tons produced in 2010
U.S. production: 985 million tons produced in 2010
U.S. position: Second

Climatologists: Global Cooling On The Horizon

Global warming alarmist Al Gore may be sweating following the release of new temperature data showing that the planet has not warmed in the past 15 years and may, in fact, be heading for a mini ice age.

Data issued last week by the Met Office and the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit based on figures from 30,000 climate measuring stations confirms that the rising trend in world temperatures actually ended in 1997, according to Daily Mail.

NASA scientists say that the sun-cycles that have resulted in the increased number of sunspots are weakening, and the next cycle—Cycle 25—which is expected to peak in 2022, will be weaker than the last and result in a drop in temperatures.

Climate scientists told The Mail on Sunday that, after emitting unusually high levels of energy throughout the 20th Century, the sun is now heading towards a ‘grand minimum’ in its output, threatening cold summers, bitter winters and a shortening of the season available for growing food. The mini ice age the planet could be headed for could reportedly rival a 70-year temperature drop in the 17th Century that froze the River Thames in London during winters.

Grape Seed Extract May Combat Some Cancers

A study published last week in the journal Carcinogenesis reports findings that grape seed extract (GSE) effectively kills head and neck cancer cells while leaving other cells unharmed.

Researchers hope that the findings will help to alleviate the nearly 12,000 people who die of the cancers in the United States and the nearly half a million worldwide each year.

GSE creates conditions unfavorable to rapid cell growth like that of cancer cells. It also damages the cancer cell DNA by increasing reactive oxygen and keeps the cells from being able to repair themselves, according to the research.

“Cancer cells are fast-growing cells,” says Rajesh Agarwal, Ph.D., investigator at the University of Colorado Cancer Center. “Not only that, but they are necessarily fast growing. When conditions exist in which they can’t grow, they die.”

The researchers used mouse models to experiment with GSE and noted that while it was destructive to the cancer cells, there was no resulting toxicity to healthy cells.

“I think the whole point is that cancer cells have a lot of defective pathways and they are very vulnerable if you target those pathways. The same is not true of healthy cells,” Agarwal says.

Agarwal says his lab hopes to move in the direction of clinical trials of GSE, potentially as an addition to second-line therapies that target head and neck squamous cell carcinoma that has failed a first treatment.

Colorado Ballot Proposal Would Liken Booze, Marijuana

A ballot proposal in Colorado that will likely make it on the November ballot is aimed at legalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana in the State by likening it to alcohol.

The ballot provision asks voters to decide if marijuana should be legalized in small amounts and law enforcement “regulate it like alcohol,” according to The New York Times.

“Why add another vice, right?” said Mason Tvert, a co-director of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, which has led the ballot drive. “But we’re not adding a vice; we’re providing an alternative.”

Supporters of the measure say that it will make communities safer by eliminating a thriving underground drug market.

The ballot proposal echoes sentiments of the Ron Paul Presidential campaign regarding State control of drug laws rather than Federal laws. Paul has called the war on drugs a “total failure” and last November made a connection between drugs and alcohol similar to that of the Colorado advocates.

“Why don’t we handle the drugs like we handle alcohol?” Paul asked. “Alcohol is a deadly drug.”

Report: Number Of Elderly Prisoners Compounding Faster Than Ever

A special report produced by Human Rights Watch finds that the number of people sentenced to Federal and State prison who are age 65 and older grew 94 times faster than the total sentenced prisoner population between 2007 and 2010.

During those same years, says the report, the older prison population increased by 65 percent, while the total prison population increased by only 0.7 percent. The United States has the largest prison population in the world — 2.3 million — as the result of decades of “tough on crime” policies, an expanding number of life-sentence crimes and tougher parole requirements in recent years.

The factors contributing to the growing number of prisoners also contribute to the number of people who are imprisoned at older ages or are likely to grow old in prison, according to the report. The increasing age of the prison population is currently driving up prison costs in a trend that is likely to continue unless policies change, the organization says. Recommendations in the report include conducting reviews of inmates who are physically incapacitated by age and no longer a threat to society, and a review of sentencing and release laws and practices to determine which can be adjusted to reduce the elderly prisoner population without risking public safety.

”A burgeoning geriatric prisoner population has important financial, practical, and moral implications for all Americans, not just those incarcerated. The United States should consider whether such a population is something that the country wants or needs. Human Rights Watch believes it is neither,” the report says.

Study: Pork Products Infected With MRSA More Often Than Thought

A recent study by the University of Iowa College of Public Health finds retail pork products in the United States have a higher prevalence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria (MRSA) than previously identified.

MRSA occurs in the environment and in raw meat products, and causes an estimated 185,000 cases of food poisoning each year. The bacteria can cause serious, life-threatening infections of the bloodstream, skin, lungs and other organs and is resistant to a number of antibiotics.

The study, published in the online science journal PLoS ONE, represents the largest sampling of raw meat products for MRSA contamination to date in the United States. The researchers collected 395 raw pork samples from 36 stores in Iowa, Minnesota and New Jersey. About 7 percent were contaminated with MRSA.

“This study shows that the meat we buy in our grocery stores has a higher prevalence of staph than we originally thought,” says lead study author Tara Smith, Ph.D. “With this knowledge, we can start to recommend safer ways to handle raw meat products to make it safer for the consumer.”

The researchers say the deadly bacteria likely contaminates the meat in processing plants and found no difference between conventional pork products and those raised without antibiotics or drugs and hormones that promote growth.

PACs Too Close To Campaigns

Political Action Committees are dominating the 2012 Presidential election season with millions of dollars from wealthy donors, unions, corporations and other outside groups funding an advertising war between the candidates.

The Supreme Court’s decision in mid-2010 in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission unleashed these so-called “super PACs” when it ruled that political spending is a form of protected speech under the 1st Amendment. That gave corporations and unions the right to spend money to support or denounce individual candidates in elections.  Despite the ruling, contributions made directly to a Federal campaign from a corporate or labor union treasury was still illegal, but the same type of funding could legally be given to a political action committee in support of a campaign or issue.

The super PAC didn’t become so super until SpeechNow.org v. Federal Election Commission, in which it was decided that the independent expenditure political action committees could pool contributions and make expenditures in support of or opposition to a candidate provided that the expenditures were made independently of a campaign or a candidate. The organizations are required to disclose donor information on a monthly or quarterly basis, but often loopholes keep the information from surfacing until long after an election has ended.

Critics of super PACs say that the organizations are fundamentally altering the democratic process by pumping massive sums of money into mind-bending ad blitzes that end in bought-and-paid-for elections and elected officials who are certainly corporate puppets. The finance laws concerning super PACs dictate that they must operate completely independent of the candidates whom they support, but most campaign finance experts say that it is very unlikely that the candidates have nothing to do with their super PACs’ actions.

A recent article by Mother Jones reporter Andy Kroll notes some pretty cozy relationships between super PACs and the 2012 Presidential candidates they support:

Restore Our Future— Mitt Romney
Carl Forti: political director of Romney 2008 campaign
Charles Spies: CFO and counsel of Romney 2008 campaign
Larry McCarthy: media adviser of Romney 2008 campaign

 

Priorities USA Action—Barack Obama
Sean Sweeney: former Obama White House aide
Bill Burton: former White House deputy press secretary

 

Winning Our Future—Newt Gingrich
Rick Tyler: former Gingrich spokesman and aide
Becky Burkett: former chief fundraiser for Gingrich’s American Solutions for Winning the Future

 

Solutions 2012—Gingrich
Charlie Smith: former aide

 

Revolution PAC—Ron Paul
Joe Becker: chief legal counsel to Ron Paul 2008 campaign
Penny Langford Freeman: political consultant and Paul’s political director from 1998 to 2007

Winning Our Future (pro-Gingrich) super PAC director Rick Tyler recently appeared on MSNBC claiming he has no communication with Gingrich, but said he can stay in step with the campaign because of their long history together.

“I’ve been with Newt a long time and I can dance with his campaign and not coordinate, so I’m not worried about it [discussing plans with Gingrich],” Tyler said.

The Washington Post reported earlier this month that Tyler had plenty of funds for his “dance” with the Gingrich campaign after casino mogul and Israel advocate Sheldon Adelson gave $5 million to the PAC. Pundits speculate that the funds were used to produce a half-hour movie, “When Mitt Romney Came To Town,” that portrayed Romney as a “predatory corporate raider” during his years at Bain capital.

In all, the most recent Federal campaign disclosures indicate that super PACs have spent more than $35 million on the 2012 Presidential race so far. According to CNN, more than half of the spending has been for political attack ads on behalf of Gingrich and Romney.

The candidates have a love-hate relationship with super PACs. The organizations allow for nasty and sometimes misleading attacks to be made against opponents without candidates having to take responsibility for the information provided; but, they also have to spend a great deal of time defending or disavowing the actions of the super PACs that support them.

During a debate prior to the South Carolina primary, Romney spoke out against the use of super PACs.

“Let people make contributions they want to make to campaigns. Let campaigns then take responsibility for their own words and not have this strange situation where we have people out there who support us, who run ads we don’t like,” he said.

The Romney supporting Restore Our Future PAC, under the control of the candidate’s former staffers, has run the majority of Romney’s television advertisements and spent $16,724, 439 on his behalf, according to PAC Track.

After the Romney PAC spent nearly $3 million attacking Gingrich in Iowa, the former House Speaker accused Romney of “buying millions in attack ads through a phony super PAC run by his former staff, paid for by his millionaire friends.”

Washington journalist Eliza Carney, said during a recent PBS appearance that she did not believe that PACs are holding up to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling.

“Well, it’s worth saying that there are certainly those who think these super PACs are a good thing, that they’ve enhanced speech and that there’s more competition now,” she said. “But it’s also true that the Supreme Court said, these entities will not be corrupting because it’s independent and it’s fully disclosed. And I think, arguably, neither of those premises is really being borne out by the reality of modern campaigning.”

Other politicians and public figures also believe that super PACs have hurt the democratic process and are acting in protest to the organizations. Massachusetts Republican Senator Scott Brown, who is up for re-election this year, has made an agreement with his Democratic challenger, Elizabeth Warren, to fight the influence of PACs in their race. According to U.S. News, the candidates have agreed to pay a penalty of half the amount of money an outside group pays to run TV or Internet ads against the other candidate. The money will be given to charity, and the two have asked broadcasters to support them in their efforts to curtail PAC influence.

Comedian and faux conservative talk show host Stephen Colbert has long been critical of unenforceable super PAC rules. Colbert created his own PAC in 2011 called Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow and has used it to launch off-the-wall satirical pseudo-political ads, including one that advised Iowa voters to write in Rick Perry as their Presidential choice, but to spell his name “Parry,” with an “A” for America.

Colbert pointed out the ridiculousness of assuming candidates have no contact with their super PACs in a recent episode of The Colbert Report when he signed his PAC over to fellow comedian Jon Stewart and renamed it The Definitely not Coordinating with Stephen Colbert Super PAC so that he could “explore running for President of The United States of South Carolina.”  Stewart then assured the audience that there was no way the two could “work out a series of Morse-code blinks to convey information with each other” concerning the PAC. Below is a video of Colbert’s super PAC transfer episode:

Romney, Gingrich Launch 99 Percent Attacks On One Another

For the past several weeks, Presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney have been engaged in a “who made more doing what” debate that one might concede plays right into the philosophy of the 99 percent.

Gingrich has consistently and vehemently attacked Romney for his lucrative tenure at Bain Capital, the investment firm involved in saving companies such as Staples and Sports Authority but also in laying off workers at companies it did not save. The former House Speaker, who released his tax returns right before the South Carolina primary, also attacked Romney for failing to do the same.

“The country deserves accountability and transparency,” Gingrich said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “I’m going to try to set the example to provide the leadership to do the right thing.”

Romney bowed to the political pressure and released his tax returns this week, which reveal he is indeed part of the 1 percent. The documents indicate that the candidate paid $6.2 million in taxes on about $42.5 million in income for 2010 and 2011, according to MSNBC.

Now, Romney has issued a statement raising questions about the relationship that Gingrich had with housing giant Freddie Mac and offering a $1.6 million reward for more information.  Gingrich released only one year’s contract; Romney wants to know more.

Gail Gitcho, Romney communications director, said:

Newt Gingrich’s Freddie Mac contract raises more questions than answers. His secrecy about his lobbying for Freddie Mac is troubling. No amount of bluster will hide the fact that Newt had his hand in Freddie Mac to the tune of $25,000 a month. The bursting housing bubble helped lead to the current economic crisis and Newt Gingrich has his fingerprints all over it. His shifting explanations amount to a shell game with the truth. Speaker Gingrich needs to fully disclose his work as a lobbyist for Freddie Mac.

According to Reuters, the efforts of the two candidates to make one another appear as fat-cat crony capitalists are playing into the hands of the Barack Obama campaign, which has plans to use Bain-fodder to attack Romney.

Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) released a statement earlier this month chiding Republicans who attack Republicans for embracing free-market ideas and capitalism, playing the same game as the left:

I am disturbed by recent developments in the Presidential race. These attacks, using the class warfare language of the far left and the demagoguery of Chicago politics, go against the core of our political philosophy. Republicans are proud of hard work and success. We encourage job creators. We applaud success in capitalism.

Republican Insider: Gingrich Regularly Criticized Reagan

Republican Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has often said that he had fond recollections of working with the Administration of President Ronald Reagan, but Republican insiders are now taking the candidate to task over his claims.

Elliott Abrams, who served as assistant secretary of state in the Reagan Administration, has called Gingrich’s claims like, “I worked with President Reagan to change things in Washington,” and “we helped defeat the Soviet empire,” and “I helped lead the effort to defeat Communism in the Congress” misleading at best.

In a feature published by the National Review, Abrams writes:

As a new member of Congress in the Reagan years — and I was an assistant secretary of state — Mr. Gingrich voted with the president regularly, but equally often spewed insulting rhetoric at Reagan, his top aides, and his policies to defeat Communism. Gingrich was voluble and certain in predicting that Reagan’s policies would fail, and in all of this he was dead wrong.

Abrams goes on to cite a number of instances when Gingrich—launching rhetorical attack after attack against Reagan—broke “The Eleventh Commandment” that the 40th President popularized: Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.

Fast And Furious Investigation Continues

The first convictions in the Department of Justice’s fatally flawed Fast and Furious gunwalking scheme were made in a Federal court on Monday; the investigation into the operation continues.

Jacob Wayne Chambers and Jacob Anthony Montelongo each pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge, and Montelongo also pleaded guilty to dealing guns without a license, according to The Associated Press.

The pair admitted that they were part of a 20-person smuggling ring that trafficked guns to Mexico for the Sinaloa drug cartel.

Chambers bought 79 guns from “straw” dealers in Arizona between September 2009 and December 2009 and got paid $50 for each AK-47 and $100 for a .50-caliber rifle he sold to the cartel. Montelongo purchased 109 guns in Arizona from January 2010 to July 2010 and was paid $50 for pistols, $100 for rifles and $150 each for six .50-caliber rifles.

The two face up to five years in prison and a fine as high as $250,000 when they are sentenced in May.

The convictions come as Congressional Republicans, led by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), continue their probe into Justice Department officials’ knowledge of the operation. On Monday, Issa cried foul when Patrick Cunningham, the chief of the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney’s office in Arizona, was excused from a deposition when he refused to give more than his name and title after saying last week that he would not testify and did not have to according to the 5th Amendment.

According to Fox News, Issa speculated that Cunningham’s dodging testimony about the operation was “a major escalation of the department’s culpability” in a letter he wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder.

 Also this week, Republicans in the Arizona Legislature formed their own committee to investigate Fast and Furious. U.S. Attorney for Arizona Dennis Burke was fired due to fallout surrounding the scandal, and the lawmakers hope to learn more about the impact that Fast and Furious had on their State, according to the Phoenix Business Journal.