Michigan Lottery Winner Nabbed For Welfare Fraud

The Michigan woman who, despite hitting a $1 million jackpot, still felt entitled to food stamps has been charged with fraud.

Amanda Clayton, 25, continued to draw thousands of dollars in taxpayer-funded food stamps after winning the Michigan Lottery “Make Me Rich” jackpot, according to reports. Attorney General Bill Schuette and Michigan Department of Human Services Director Maura D. Corrigan today announced that the Attorney General’s Criminal Division charged Clayton with two felony counts of welfare fraud after investigation revealed she failed to report her lottery winnings, as well as her employment, as required by State law governing public assistance programs.

“It’s simply common sense that million dollar lottery winners forfeit their right to public assistance,” said Schuette.  “We will continue to work with local, state and federal authorities to uphold state laws intended to ensure wise stewardship of taxpayer dollars.”

Besides winning the jackpot, Clayton was employed while she was receiving the assistance from August 2010 to March 2012. It is alleged that income from Clayton’s employment during that time period was never reported.  From August 2011 through March 2012, Clayton allegedly collected approximately $5,475 in food and medical assistance benefits for which she would otherwise have been ineligible.

Clayton was arrested Monday.

Children’s Book Pushes Veganism

If one new children’s book makes it into your elementary-aged child’s school library, he or she may come home refusing to eat dinner because the food you have prepared has feelings too.

“Vegan is Love,” a children’s book set for release on April 24, encourages children to avoid animal products altogether, covering food, clothing and products tested on animals, according to The Daily Mail. The book was written by 29-year-old Los Angeles mother Ruby Roth, who is raising her child on a vegan diet.

A Kirkus review of the book says:

Presented in picture-book format, this nonfiction work features a different concept on each two-page spread. These concepts include clothing choices, animal testing and using animals in entertainment venues as well as eating habits, farming and environmental degradation. With each, Roth examines the impact of peoples’ choices on the Earth and the animals that live on it. Colorful, stylized paintings vary in subject matter, from cheerful organic farms to starving children, wounded animals and raw meat. The graphic nature of some of the pictures suggest that adults would be most comfortable sharing Roth’s message with older elementary children, a reality somewhat at odds with the appealing cover and brevity of the text. The lack of an index or print citations to specific information may leave readers wondering whether some of her sweeping statements are entirely (or still) correct, depending on when the book is read. Roth’s decision to ascribe emotion to animals may also leave some readers unconvinced.

 
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNU2pezAcSs&w=560&h=315]
 

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals will celebrate the launch of the book on May 5 at its Los Angeles headquarters. Some critics of the book say that it will scare impressionable children into unhealthy eating habits.

Ron Paul Dodges Neocons In Video Game

Ron Paul may soon join the ranks of Mario and Luigi if one liberty-minded game designer is successful in bringing the candidate’s Revolution to the world of video gaming.

Daniel Williams, 27, of Houston said he wanted to use his love of video games to educate young people about Paul’s political message.

Though the game, “Ron Paul, The Road to Revolution,” appears to be more fun than educational, it does have some Paul-centric themes: Traveling through the political landscape of the United States, the Paul character grabs gold coins (sound money) and visits each branch of the Federal Reserve Bank while dodging neocons. The designer also said gamers could expect an “epic” encounter between Paul and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke.

According to Raw Story, the game should be available for play free on the Internet by July.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ydrfs8bpBY&w=560&h=315]
Maybe now Paul will be able to defeat the Fed once and for all.

Obama Signs Natural Gas Executive Order

On Friday, President Barack Obama signed an executive order that increases Federal involvement in the oversight of unconventional methods for mining natural gas.

The order establishes a working group that includes various White House offices such as the Council on Environmental Quality and National Economic Council, along with other cabinet departments and agencies like the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.

The order comes just after many Republican lawmakers have chided agencies working on regulations for the industry — specifically related to hydraulic fracturing — saying they are hampering growth.

Some proponents of the Presidential order applaud the action, saying that it could streamline the oversight process of the natural gas industry in the United States.

American Petroleum Institute head Jack Gerard said his organization is “pleased that the White House recognizes the need to coordinate the efforts of the Federal agencies that are reviewing, studying or proposing new regulations.” He does, however, call for the Federal government to work closely with State regulators.

Others say that the President has effectively taken over the industry.

A portion of the order states:

Because efforts to promote safe, responsible, and efficient development of unconventional domestic natural gas resources are underway at a number of executive departments and agencies (agencies), close interagency coordination is important for effective implementation of these programs and activities. To formalize and promote ongoing interagency coordination, this order establishes a high-level, interagency working group that will facilitate coordinated Administration policy efforts to support safe and responsible unconventional domestic natural gas development.

Some critics argue that because the order states the importance of protecting long-term supplies, it gives the Federal government the power to shut down gas production at will under pressure from environmentalists, while claiming the need to protect reserves.

Britain: George Washington Greatest Military Foe

Outnumbered and outgunned, George Washington led the fight for American Independence against the British, which at the time was the world’s most powerful Nation. Washington has always been a hero to Americans, and the Brits recently gave the legendary man another title: Britain’s most outstanding military opponent in history.

In a contest run by the British National Army Museum, historians organized a list of 20 opponents that the country had met on battlefields since the 17th century.  The adversaries were then whittled down to a list of just five, including the likes of Irishman Michael Collins, Frenchman Napoleon Bonaparte, the German Erwin Rommel and the Turkish Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

Washington won the title in an online vote in which he took 45 percent of the whole.

Here is a breakdown of the top five from The Telegraph:

George Washington (1732-99) – 45 percent: Guided the American rebels to victory over the British in the War of Independence. Often outmaneuvered by British generals with larger armies, his leadership enabled him to hold together an army of secessionists from 13 different states and keep it in the field – and ultimately prevail – during the protracted struggle.

Stephen Brumwell, author and specialist on eighteenth century North America, said: “Washington scores highly as an enemy of Britain on three key grounds: the immense scale of damage he inflicts upon Britain’s Army and Empire – the most jarring defeat that either endured; his ability to not only provide inspirational battlefield leadership but to work with civilians who were crucial to sustain the war-effort; and the kind of man he was. As British officers conceded, he was a worthy opponent.”

Michael Collins (1890-1922) – 21 percent: Helped transform the Irish Republican Army into a powerful force which fought the British to a standstill in the Irish War of Independence, securing the separation of most of the island of Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom.

Under him, the force waged a guerrilla campaign, mounting attacks and ambushes on barracks, police stations and convoys before quickly withdrawing. His tactics made much of Ireland ungovernable – with an army that never exceeded 3,000 active volunteers at any given time.

Gabriel Doherty, lecturer at University College Cork, said: “He was much more than just a great military leader. He had many different hats and his political and administrative skills tend to be a lot more overlooked.”

Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) – 18 percent : Emerged from the turmoil and terror of revolution to become France’s greatest military commander, conquering much of Europe. His greatest victories were against other countries, but his final campaign, culminating in the Battle of Waterloo, tested the Duke of Wellington to the limit.

Alan Forrest, professor of modern history at the University of York, said: “Napoleon was, of course, a supremely gifted general and military tactician, and he also had an unerring gift for propaganda and self-promotion. He recognized in Britain his most implacable opponent, and concentrated all his resources – political and economic as well as military in his attempt to defeat him.”

Erwin Rommel (1891-1944) – 10 percent : A decorated veteran of the First World War, he led the German “Blitzkrieg” of France in the Second World War before making his name battling British forces in North Africa, where he earned the nickname “Desert Fox”. His skill at handling armoured formations enabled his “Afrikakorps” to consistently outmatch his opponents, often against heavy odds.

Dale Clarke, a reservist officer in the Royal Artillery, author and technical adviser on historical films and television shows, said: “A myth may have grown up around Rommel but there is an underlying truth that he was a superb leader who knew that in war you have to instantly grasp the initiative and keep your men moving forward. He is still the ultimate enemy, because of his sheer tenacity and skill.”

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1881-1938) – 6 percent : Fought a tenacious defensive campaign at Gallipoli in 1915 which forced the Allied invasion force to withdraw. Displayed great leadership and tactical acumen, reacting immediately to the landing at Anzac Cove to launch successful counter-attacks, preventing his opponents from securing high ground.

Matthew Hughes, from Brunel University, said: “Atatürk resisted the British-led amphibious landings and was the man at the front who stopped the enemy troops taking the peninsula, advancing on Istanbul and knocking Turkey out of the war.”

Is Romney Firing Blanks On Gun Support?

Mitt “varmint hunting” Romney joined the National Rifle Association at its annual meeting in St. Louis on Friday.

In the NRA’s mission statement the organization says its express goals are to “promote firearms and hunting safety, to enhance marksmanship skills of those participating in the shooting sports, and to educate the general public about firearms in their historic, technological and artistic context.”

Many of the organization’s members are likely wary of Romney’s record on guns, considering his proverbial “Etch A Sketch” rhetoric concerning the issue.

Here are a few of Romney’s past positions concerning gun control:

  • In 1994, Romney backed two gun-control measures that were strongly opposed by the NRA: a ban on certain assault weapons and the Brady Law, which imposed a five-day waiting period on gun sales. “I don’t think (the waiting period) will have a massive effect on crime, but I think it will have a positive effect,” he said. Also in 1994, Romney, speaking about his devotion to tough control laws, said he did not line up with the NRA.
  • While running for Governor of Massachusetts in 2002, Romney said: “We do have tough gun laws in Massachusetts. I support them. I won’t chip away at them.”
  • In 2004, as Governor of the State, Romney made good on the promise by signing a complete assault rifle ban into law, declaring the firearms “instruments of destruction with the sole purpose of hunting down and killing people.”
  • During his Gubernatorial tenure, Massachusetts approved raising the fee on gun licenses from $25 to $100.

Romney took a bit of a turn on the issues during his first Presidential run. Romney told The Washington Post in 2008:

I believe we need to focus on enforcing our current laws rather than creating new laws that burden lawful gun owners. I believe in safe and responsible gun ownership and that anyone who exercises the right to keep and bear arms must do so lawfully and properly. I do not believe in a one-size-fits-all federal approach to gun ownership because people keep and use firearms for different reasons. Law-abiding citizens have a right to protect their homes and their families and as President, I will vigorously defend that right.

In a 2007 interview, Romney told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos:

…I’m a strong proponent of Second Amendment rights. I believe people, under our Constitution, have the right to bear arms. We have a gun in one of our homes. It’s not owned by me, it’s owned by my son, but I’ve always considered it sort of mine. (Emphasis added.)

Borrowing his son’s gun that is kept in one of his homes was apparently enough, however, for the candidate to sign up for a lifetime membership to the NRA before his first Presidential run. Perhaps it is even enough for the millions of Americans who keep several guns in their one home for self-defense, hunting and sport shooting to believe that the candidate is sincere in his devotion to protecting 2nd Amendment Rights.

How ‘Justice’ Suits The Liberal Agenda

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) says it has become the recent victim of liberal political opportunism sparked by recent events in the news.

For more than 30 years, the nonprofit organization has been a key player in promoting legislation throughout the Nation that it sees as beneficial to the advancement of the Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, Federalism and individual liberty in the United States. ALEC says in its mission statement that it promotes the aforementioned principles by aiding in the development of policies based on the Constitutional premise that governmental powers “are derived from, and assigned to, first the People, then the States, and finally, the Federal Government.”

And for its dedication to small government and personal freedoms, ALEC says that liberals who favor “state-dependent utopia” detest the organization.

ALEC has helped to pen legislation that would help to privatize some aspects of education, cut social welfare programs, combat healthcare initiatives like Obamacare and implement voter ID laws, among bills pushing for other conservative reforms. The organization has also advocated Stand Your Ground laws in States throughout the Nation, which has sparked a liberal attack on its policy initiatives in the wake of the Trayvon Martin controversy.

Over the past couple of weeks, liberal pressure on corporate sponsors of ALEC has led companies like Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc., McDonald’s Corp., Kraft Foods Inc., The Wendy’s Company and Intuit Inc., as well as the philanthropic Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to publicly sever financial ties with the free-market and personal liberty advocate.

Liberals like the writers at the left-leaning, anti-corporate blog “Crooks and Liars” applaud the companies for withdrawing ALEC support. A “Crooks and Liars” post states:”

As ALEC whines and twirls in a strange dance of damage control, remember that the Stand Your Ground law that triggered the corporate exodus from them is only the tip of the iceberg. They have done grave harm to many states and most people. Whether it’s education, Voter ID, health care, guns, or taxes, ALEC is the author of far too much turnkey legislation with deep and barbarous cuts to those institutions we hold dear in this country, like schools, and hospitals, and public streets. They deserve no sympathy, nor quarter. They should be accountable for each and every evil they have wrought on states and people who live in them, and those who sponsor their efforts should be equally accountable…

And ALEC agrees with the liberals who are urging customers throughout the country to call and complain to companies who support it on at least one thing: The liberal endeavor to destroy the nonprofit is a subversive effort to use a tragic situation to hamper the organization’s other legislative ambitions. It isn’t just about Stand Your Ground laws.

Ron Scheberle, Executive Director of ALEC said in a press release late last week:

First, the people now attacking ALEC and its members are the same people who have always pushed for big-government solutions. Our support for free markets and limited government stands in stark contrast to their state-dependent utopia. This is not about one piece of legislation. This is an attempt to silence our organization and it has been going on for more than a year.

Second, ALEC is one of America’s premier ideas laboratories when it comes to advocating free market reforms. We are a target because our opponents believe they have the opportunity to attack an effective, successful organization that promotes free-market, limited government policies that they disagree with. We work to promote the Freedom of Choice in Health Care initiative against ObamaCare’s individual mandate. We support fair tax policies and tort reform. This is an all-out intimidation campaign designed to promote government-based solutions rather than the free-market principles that we have seen work.

If ALEC is correct, one might suggest that through a campaign of liberal smoke and mirrors Martin has unwittingly and posthumously become the face of big government in the United States as a consequence of this liberal initiative. Is that the true meaning of justice to leftists in America?

Obama’s Diversity Problem

If President Barack Obama were a Republican, recent media reports would likely have Democrats, equal rights activists and affirmative action proponents up in arms.

With an abundance of recent media controversy that paints conservatives as being racially insensitive and as having a “War on Women” complex that allegedly has them wanting all women at home “barefoot and pregnant,” two recent headlines about the President’s Administration are a bit ironic.

The first came in the form of a photograph that made its rounds on news sites and through the conservative blogosphere. The photo, taken from the Obama campaign’s Tumblr page, shows a gathering of members of the campaign team at its Chicago headquarters. Conservative pundits have pointed out that the “army of twenty-somethings” pictured in the photo isn’t an extremely racially diverse one.

The latest ironic Obama headline comes on the heels of the recent release of a number of White House financial records. The records show that women hold very few top-level positions on the White House staff and earn, on average, about $11,000 less every year than their male counterparts.

The median salary for women was $60,000, while the median salary for men was $71,000.

In a 2010 statement, Obama addressed the fact that women typically earn less in the workforce.

“Paycheck discrimination hurts families who lose out on badly needed income.  And with so many families depending on women’s wages, it hurts the American economy as a whole.  In difficult economic times like these, we simply cannot afford this discriminatory burden,” Obama said in 2010.

Obama’s behavior is not new. In 2008, it was discovered that women in McCain’s office were paid much better than the women in Obama’s.

–Bryan Nash contributed to this report.

Surprise: Researchers Find That Brandishing A Weapon Intimidates

Researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles have confirmed the obvious in a recent study: Basic survival instincts make people more apt to perceive that individuals brandishing a weapon are a threat.

Anthropologists at the school conducted a study during which they showed hundreds of participants photos of nearly identical male hands holding a range of easily recognizable objects including handguns and knives before asking them to gauge the size and strength of the men.

In one part of the study, 628 individuals were asked to look at four pictures of different hands, each holding a single object: a caulking gun, electric drill, large saw or handgun.

“Tools were used as control objects to rule out the possibility that a simple link with traditionally masculine objects would explain intuitions that the weapon-holders were larger and stronger,” Daniel Fessler, the lead author of the study and an associate professor of anthropology at UCLA explained.

Participants were then asked to estimate the height of each hand model in feet and inches based solely on the photographs of their hands. They were shown six images of progressively taller men and six images of progressively more muscular men and asked to estimate which image came closest to the probable size and strength of the hand model.

The researchers say that 17 percent of the time, the pistol packer was estimated to be stronger and taller than those holding the other objects. A similar outcome was noted when a kitchen knife was shown in the photos.

“We’re exploring how people think about the relative likelihood that they will win a conflict, and then how those thoughts affect their decisions about whether to enter into conflict,” said Fessler.

America’s Priorities In Six Words

In the spirit of the traditional, memorable six-word phrases often recited by Presidential candidates on the campaign trail, the National Constitution Center  is inviting Americans to share what their six-word message would be if they were running for the Nation’s highest office.

Some examples of Presidential stumps:

  • “Restore America to its own people.”
    –Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • “The old ways will not do.”
    –John F. Kennedy
  • “Federal government is overgrown and overweight.”
    –Ronald Reagan
  • “Read my lips: no new taxes.”
    –George H.W. Bush
  • “Our government should work for us.”
    –Barack Obama

In partnership with SMITH Magazine, the center is asking Americans to submit phrases to the Six-Word Memoir® project starting April 24. The submissions will be displayed on screens in the National Constitutional Center’s main exhibit in Philadelphia. In addition, the center plans to analyze words and phrases in the submissions and organize them in dynamic charts, maps and word clouds that reveal information about election priorities across geography and party affiliation.

“The Address America initiative is a unique and accessible way for people across the country to engage in the pivotal 2012 election,” said National Constitution Center President and CEO David Eisner. “There is no better time to launch this program than on April 24 – the day when several states, including Pennsylvania, hold their primaries, and we celebrate our freedom to vote. We hope visitors of all ages will join us to share in the excitement and make their voices heard through a six-word stump speech.”

Beginning April 24, you can participate in the project here.

In the interim, comment below and let us know what your six-word stump speech would be.

The Ron Paul Buzz Heightens With Santorum’s Exit

Rick Santorum made the decision to “suspend” his campaign on Tuesday, leaving Mitt Romney, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich as the remaining contenders for the Republican Presidential nominee. Now what?

Romney has long been declared by the GOP establishment and mainstream media as the definite front-runner in the race. But for the sake of the 24-hour news cycle, nearly every other candidate has been afforded a moment to relish in the limelight as his “rival” — every candidate, it seems, except Paul.

With Santorum’s exit, the “Paulbots,” “Paulites” or whatever the MSM have branded Paul’s supporters this week have become energized, and some pundits believe they have good reason. Throughout the primary season, Paul and his supporters have frequently decried the lack of media attention given to the candidate despite his campaign’s ability to organize and energize supporters in ways the other contenders could only hope to emulate.

But now, some people are left wondering if the media will be forced to recognize Paul as a real alternative — even if he is trailing — to Romney as the race enters the final stretch and the candidates make a mad dash to the Republican National Convention in August.

The prospect seems unlikely. The New York Times declared on Monday — even before Santorum’s exit — that the primary has reached an endgame in an article entitled “A Living Autopsy of the Ron Paul Campaign.” Despite the article’s death-declaration of a title, its author could not help but note the obvious: Paul’s positions are popular to a large base of Americans.

Seemingly representing the best of both worlds in a political sense, the candidate’s fiscal ideology is the stuff of dreams for Republicans — specifically Tea Party types who believe Paul Ryan’s recent budget proposal to be lackluster in the “cuts” department. His wish for a smaller Federal government bridges gaps between libertarians, Republicans and independents. And though Paul’s foreign policy makes many hawkish conservatives queasy, it represents a silver lining to Democratic voters who supported Obama for similar peaceful proposals and were slapped in the face.

Paul is often called dangerous by the elite within the military-industrial complex, yet he receives more campaign donations from active-duty military personnel and veterans than any of the other candidates. Do these troops know something the general public — the average hawkish conservative — does not? Lost in translation to many Republican voters who prefer small government is the Paul axiom that big military is big government. In fact, about 27 cents of every 2011 Federal income tax dollar went to military spending, according to the National Priorities Project, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization that analyzes the Federal budget.

Paul and Gingrich have both vowed to stay in the race until the convention, but an interesting caveat for fiscal conservatives considering a vote for Gingrich: The man, who if elected would be charged with repairing a national economy that is in extreme debt, is bouncing checks on the campaign trail. Some pundits have noted since the beginning of his campaign that Gingrich has used the primary mostly as a book tour.

Paul’s campaign still has money to burn and the dogged determination of a well-organized base of support, and many within his base believe — despite MSM reports — that Paul actually has enough delegates to pose a major threat to Romney. They base the assertions on the fact that many of the delegates remain unbound to any one candidate, and the delegate-count numbers are constantly fluctuating.

Even if the MSM are correct in asserting that Paul is no threat to Romney as the primary draws down, the candidate has energized a mass of people who seem to represent a serious threat to the political status quo. In a recent POLITICO article, “Ron Paul’s baby boom,” it is noted that Paul’s Presidential bid and the growing popularity of his message have encouraged a growing number of people who do not identify as wholly Republican or Democrat, but rather as supporters of liberty, to become politically involved. Even if Paul loses this battle, it looks as if he has set the stage to win the war.

Finding Love While Prepping

If you are single, prepping can be a lonely lifestyle and dating may be even more treacherous than it is for non-preppers. Imagine trying to explain the importance of the five-year food store and impressive ammo cache in your basement to someone who is interested only in what happened on the latest episode of “Jersey Shore” or which team the Braves are playing this week.

And then there are all of the tin-foil hat jokes.

Few people appreciate the prepper lifestyle and may find it weird that you carry a concealed weapon for protection, a bug-out kit in the car and spend time in public places identifying threats and planning escapes. Even though being prepared for disaster is a basic responsibility of all humans, partners who understand the prepping lifestyle are often few and far between.

Luckily, Andrea Burke, a 45-year-old teacher from Montana, recognizes the plight of the single prepper. She runs a website called Survivalist Singles that is similar to popular dating sites like eHarmony and Match.com. Only, on Survivalist Singles one might find stockpiling non-perishable food, shooting weapons and perfecting bug-out plans listed alongside “long walks on the beach” in the interests section.

The site launched in 2010 and currently has about 1,640 members. Burke told CNN Money that she hopes to see the site grow. While membership is free for now, she plans to charge a $5 per month fee so she can pay for maintenance and improvements.

 

Vigilante Border Patrol?

In Arizona, a group of armed vigilantes have allegedly taken to conducting their own deadly border patrol missions.

At about 10:35 p.m. last Sunday, officers in Pima, Ariz., responded to a call of shots fired on a vehicle carrying illegal aliens into the United States.

Police say that the vehicle, which is thought to have been carrying about 30 aliens, was ambushed by an unknown number of men dressed in camouflage and armed with rifles. When the men opened fire, two of the passengers in the truck were killed.

Dawn M. Barkman, a spokeswoman for the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, told The Arizona Republic that police are unclear why the gunmen opened fire on the pickup, but the shooting happened in an area commonly used by human smugglers.

The surviving passengers fled into the desert, according to reports. Five were located hiding in the brush, interviewed by homicide detectives and turned over to the Border Patrol.

In a similar January 2007 incident, four men wearing camouflage and berets and armed with assault weapons killed a smuggling suspect and wounded another person after ambushing a vehicle in a nearby town. In March 2007, gunmen wearing dark clothing ambushed a vehicle loaded with more than 20 illegal aliens near Green Valley, south of Tucson, and killed two people.

While police currently have no suspects in the case and do not know the motive, some people believe the actions were acts of vigilante border patrol.

The incident comes as many Arizonians are becoming increasingly frustrated that the Federal government has not done more to secure the Southern border. Arizona State Senator Sylvia Allen introduced S.B. 1083, a bill that would create a volunteer militia to patrol the State and pursue and apprehend illegal border crossers. The proposal is gaining little support in the State Legislature.

“Everybody just wants to sit around and gripe about it, complain about it, blame the federal government for it,” Allen told AzCapitolTimes. “But when it comes to saying, ‘What can we do as a state to really try to solve the problem?’ Now it’s all the reasons why we can’t solve this problem.”

Liability and training concerns have slowed legislative action on the initiative.

Will Biden’s Twitter Offer Comic Relief?

If you thought Vice President Joe Biden’s gaffes were comical and abundant before, you’re going to love this: The White House has given the notorious gaffer his very own Twitter account so all Americans can get 140-charater-or-less snippets of Biden’s infinite wisdom throughout the day.

The account was active briefly during Barack Obama’s first campaign and then shut down.

The reopened account, @JoeBiden, unfortunately will be controlled largely by Biden’s handlers within the Obama campaign. But the frequent gaffer will also write some of his own messages, according to a tweet on the account that opened Monday.

Late show hosts and political satirists will likely scan Biden’s tweets for comic gems like the following verbal gaffes from the past:

  • March 31, 2012 on “Face The Nation” — Biden contends that because of bailouts “General Motors is now the largest corporation in the world again.” — It isn’t even the largest corporation in the Nation.
  • April 1, 2012 at a Democratic fundraiser — “I never had an interest in being a mayor, ’cause that’s a real job. You have to produce,” Biden said, according to a White House pool report. “That’s why I was able to be a senator for 36 years.”
  • Sept. 22, 2008 in an interview with Katie Couric — “When the stock market crashed, Franklin D. Roosevelt got on the television and didn’t just talk about the, you know, the princes of greed. He said, ‘Look, here’s what happened.” — In Biden’s 1929, Americans had television, but Herbert Hoover was nowhere to be found.
  • Campaigning for Barack Obama in January 2007 — “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”
  • Joe Biden, in a private remark to an Indian-American man caught on C-SPAN, June 2006 — “You cannot go to a 7-11 or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent…. I’m not joking.”

There are too many more to list. While it is understandable that a life of public speaking leads to some verbal mistakes, Biden has earned a sacred place among the monologues of most late-night TV show hosts.

Santorum Drops Presidential Bid

Republican Presidential contender announced on Tuesday that he would be dropping his bid for President of the United States.

“We made the decision over the weekend [that] this presidential race is over for me, and we will suspend our campaign today,” Santorum said at a news conference in Gettysburg, Pa.

Santorum had been on a break from the campaign for the past few days because of the Easter holiday and the hospitalization of his 3-year-old daughter.

The former Pennsylvania Senator, who had been called Mitt Romney’s top opponent, suffered a trio of defeats last week in Wisconsin, Maryland and Washington, D.C. Over the weekend, his daughter, Bella, was hospitalized for the second time during his Presidential campaign due to complications from a rare genetic disorder.

Santorum has yet to offer an endorsement and has not yet urged his delegates to support another candidate.  Some pundits speculate that he is hoping Romney will fall short of the required delegate threshold, allowing him to re-involve himself in the race during the Republican National Convention in August.

Romney remains the media-declared winner of the GOP, though Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich remain in the race. Gingrich’s campaign, however, has been embattled of late and revealed last weekend that it is $4.5 million in debt.

The Medical Establishment’s Military Doping

During the war in Vietnam, the use of illicit drugs like marijuana and heroin by U.S. military personnel deployed overseas was no secret, as young men were sent to a strange land where the substances were readily available in the midst of a brutal and traumatic conflict.

A new drug-related issue affects soldiers deployed to combat zones. This time, the “pusher” is not always a foreign drug dealer eager to capitalize on new customers, but rather doctors within the medical establishment back home.  As more and more American service members face longer deployments wherein they are faced with evermore brutal realities, the medical establishment has demonstrated no whims in mass doping.

According to a recent report by The Los Angeles Times, more than 110,000 active-duty Army troops were taking prescription cocktails on a daily basis with ingredients ranging from prescribed antidepressants, narcotics, sedatives, antipsychotics, anti-anxiety drugs and amphetamines. About 8 percent of active duty Army personnel are taking sedatives and 6 percent antidepressants — eight times more than in 2005.

“We have never medicated our troops to the extent we are doing now… And I don’t believe the current increase in suicides and homicides in the military are a coincidence,” said Bart Billings, a former military psychologist who hosts an annual conference on combat stress.

When service members break under psychological stress and commit suicide or go on shooting rampages, defense lawyers often argue the the soldiers have become the victim of major stress and improper medication.  The most recent case is that of Sgt. Robert Bales, the soldier accused of 17 counts of premeditated murder resulting from a nighttime shooting rampage in Afghanistan. Bale’s lawyer recently told The Associated Press that his client had been under treatment for severe anxiety and depression and dealt with pains from past physical injuries for which he also received medication.

Some critics of medicating U.S. service members to the extent that the Defense Department is allowing in order to hold on to manpower as wars perpetuate, say it is being done at high cost to the troops. Suicides compounded by about 80 percent among troops between 2004 and 2008, and a rise in addiction to narcotics is also a growing concern.

Black Panthers Want Blood, Battles

Racial tension in the United States has remained heightened on the heels of the shooting of Trayvon Martin and the emotionally charged and often inaccurate reporting of the still enigmatic incident by the mainstream media.

During the coverage of the Martin case, mainstream media repeatedly aired video of New Black Panther Party members, one of whom, Mikhail Muhammad, even claimed that the NBPP had placed a $10,000 bounty on Martin’s shooter, George Zimmerman.  When asked whether he was inciting violence, Muhammad proclaimed: “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”

The group also called for the mobilization of 10,000 black men to capture the Hispanic Zimmerman.

On Monday, the Party began what is apparently one of a series of national “days of action” that the NBPP in the United States wants to organize. Though the plan of action Monday included peaceful protests and boycotts, there have been cries for violence against nonblack Americans by the organization. NBPP leaders claim they want to completely remove capitalism because they believe it breeds racism.

The leaders say the following in a recent video call to action:

Time to get booted up and suited up for this race war we’re in, the things that are about to happen to these crackers, these honkeys. […]

We gotta go do it, we have to cross the red sea, not some sea in Middle East part of the world, we’re talking about some blood, go through some blood, some battles. There are those who wish they could stand in this hour to see the destruction of the devil’s world, not some dude under the ground with a pitchfork, I’m talking about blond haired, blue eyed sometimes brown eyed Caucasian walking around.

Listen to the full call to action below:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3F3iUk1RrQ&w=560&h=315]
The party also releases a periodical with Black Panther news and updates. The Spring 2012 edition is named after a speech given by activist Malcolm X in 1964, “The Ballot or the Bullet.”

Here is an exerpt from that speech as it is printed in the issue:

You talking about civil rights, ain’t no damn civil rights. The cracka ain’t never been civil and he ain’t never been right. You talking about well, what about human rights. The cracka ain’t human and he ain’t never been right. It’s the year of The Bullet or The Bullet. You either deal or die. You either fight back or get destroyed. You either get on the right side or its genocide. It’s the year of The Bullet or The Bullet.

According to the publication, the next day of action for the NBPP is scheduled for May 19, coinciding with the birthday of Malcom X.

Trayvon Protesters Shut Down Sanford PD

The police department in Sanford, Fla., was forced to close on Monday because of a group of protesters who marched from Daytona Beach to block the department’s doors in protest of the shooting of Trayvon Martin. The 40-mile march took three days.

According to ClickOrlando, none of the 50 members of the group, who call themselves the Dream Defenders, were arrested for blocking the police department entrance.

“The city of Sanford hopes the actions of the students will be as peaceful and orderly as the previous rallies and marches have been,” said Sanford city manager Norton Bonaparte Jr.  “We want to be accommodating to all our visitors proving they act in a manner that is respectful to the people of the city.”

State Attorney Angela Corey who has been assigned as a special prosecutor in the case said on Monday that she will not use a grand jury in investigating whether George Zimmerman acted in self-defense.

Corey reportedly addressed the protesters earlier in the day, asking them for patience and ensuring them that a thorough investigation is underway.

Congress And Its Cyber Crusade

Richard Clarke, former cybersecurity adviser to the liberty-chilling George W. Bush Administration, has an idea for lawmakers who are constantly debating ways to avert cyberattacks: a sort of Internet border patrol.

In a New York Times opinion piece entitled “How China Steals Our Secrets,” Clarke espouses the idea that the biggest threat to the cybersecurity of the Federal government and American business comes from China.

Clarke’s piece was published just days after a Congressional panel heard testimony about a 10-year, $1 billion research program that was copied by hackers in a single night. U.S. Cyber Command Chief Gen. Keith B. Alexander called the crime at the time “the greatest transfer of wealth in history.”

Clarke contends that bigger attacks are on the way and warns that hackers handing secrets to the Chinese jeopardizes the Nation’s global “competitive edge.” Many private firms are already unknowingly being hacked by outside users with unauthorized access, and the next major cybercrime could already be on the horizon, according to his writing.

The author seemingly goes on to suggest that recent wildly unpopular cybersecurity bills proposed by Congress failed because of lawmaker inaction, but fails to mention the widespread public outcry against the measures. Since Congress has not moved forward with any measures, Clarke believes that the Administration of Barack Obama should step in. He urges the Administration to toss aside fears of “a negative reaction from privacy-rights and Internet-freedom advocates who do not want the government scanning Internet traffic.”

Clarke lays out a plan as follows:

Under Customs authority, the Department of Homeland Security could inspect what enters and exits the United States in cyberspace. Customs already looks online for child pornography crossing our virtual borders. And under the Intelligence Act, the president could issue a finding that would authorize agencies to scan Internet traffic outside the United States and seize sensitive files stolen from within our borders.

The author contends that privacy rights would be protected if the initiative were carried out in such a way because the President could appoint an “empowered privacy advocate” to keep DHS from abusing the power.

Clarke’s idea is still a suggestion to lawmakers at this point. But Congress is already working on several initiatives to further entwine government intelligence and the Internet.

A bill currently gaining Congressional support called CISPA, or the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (H.R. 3523), would give government officials the power to pry into the personal correspondence of anyone they choose.

The bill, introduced in the House in 2011 by Representative Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), broadly defines information that can be snooped by government agencies with the help of service providers as “information directly pertaining to a vulnerability of, or threat to a system or network.” The Electronic Freedom Foundation contends that the bill essentially hands the Internet over to the military intelligence community.

Another House cyber security bill — The Precise Act (H.R 3674), sponsored by Representative Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) — has also raised concerns among some Internet privacy advocates. Though Lungren’s initiative more narrowly defines what activities could be considered threatening, it calls for Internet service providers to monitor their subscribers’ communications.

The House has designated the week of April 23 “cyber security week,” and may vote on both aforementioned bills.

Similar bills are also currently in the Senate. One introduced in February by Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) — The Cybersecurity Act of 2012 (S. 2105) — would direct DHS to snoop information on the Internet in the same way that CISPA does. In March, Senator John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) Strengthening and Enhancing Cybersecurity by Using Research, Education, Information, and Technology Act of 2012 (S. 2151) was also introduced to the Senate. It contains cybersecurity proposals similar to the other bills mentioned.  The Senate is expected to vote on the bills in May.

The latest round of cybersecurity legislation initiatives haven’t received as much negative attention as SOPA and PIPA did earlier in the year, but technology privacy experts warn that they are just as dangerous to online privacy.

“[If] you look at most of these bills closely, you’ll see that there are extraordinarily complex civil liberties problems in virtually every one of these bills,” said Leslie Harris, president and CEO of the Center for Democracy and Technology.

Arby’s Has A Beef With Rush Limbaugh

What do roast beef sandwiches and politics have in common?

Nothing actually, but that has not stopped Hala Moddelmog the president of Arby’s Group, which operates the Arby’s fast-food chain, from bringing the two together. Arby’s announced last week that it would join Coca-Cola Co. in giving in to liberals’ complaints about the companies having any affiliation with conservative groups.

While Coca-Cola Co. opted to withdraw support of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group that promotes voter ID and “stand your ground” laws, Arby’s took to Twitter to say the company would not advertise on Rush Limbaugh’s conservative talk radio show. Limbaugh reportedly claims that the company never actually was a supporter of his show.

Arby’s announcement set the wheels in motion for a conservative Twitter backlash. The restaurant’s response to the criticism was to simply block conservative tweeters, which begs the question: Does Arby’s believe that only the liberal customer is always right?

In a recent article, The Right Sphere notes that Moddelmog made campaign contributions to John Edwards, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama during the 2008 election cycle.

Walking While White: Elderly Man Beaten After Saying ‘Remember Trayvon’

Dallas Watts, a 78-year-old veteran from Toledo, Ohio, did not allow weapons in his house while his children were growing up, so he doesn’t own a firearm . But, after being beaten by six juveniles aged 11 to 17 last Saturday in the name of Trayvon Martin, he says he will buy a gun and obtain a permit.

Watts’ story is a bit ironic.

According to the Toledo Blade, the elderly man was on his way home from a convenience store at about 4:45 p.m. on Saturday with not skittles and iced tea, but two bags of pork rinds that he planned to feed his dogs for treats. It was then that he was approached by a group of  six boys, some of whom were white and some black.

Watts recounted that one of the youths pointed at him and ordered the others to “take him down,” to which Watts said he replied, “Why me? Remember Trayvon! Remember Trayvon!”

“I meant it as a peaceful way,” Watts said. “What happened to Trayvon, I was not responsible for, I live 1,000 miles away! But they kept saying, ‘Kill him! Kill Him! Kill him!’ because I’m a white man.”

The elderly man’s remark reportedly set the youths into a rage as one punched him in the back of the head knocking him to the ground, at which point he was drop-kicked in the chest. One of the boys then allegedly placed his foot on the back of Watts’ neck as another shouted, “Kill him.”

According to a police report, the boys then began kicking him ruthlessly and repeatedly and shouting, “[Get] that white [man]. This is for Trayvon … Trayvon lives, white [man]. Kill that white [man].”

When a bystander shouted at the boys, they reportedly ran away.

Of the remark about Trayvon Martin, Watts said he was simply trying to reason with the boys before they beat him.

“All I meant by saying ‘remember Trayvon’ is to remember what happened to him, don’t duplicate it here,” Watts told Toledo Blade. “The only reason I mentioned Trayvon, that was my defense, don’t pick on me. I am not your enemy.”

Only three of the juveniles have been charged in relation to the case. The 11-year-old and 17-year-old are charged with robbery and are being held by authorities. According to Fox Toledo, the third was charged with disorderly conduct. The 17-year-old was facing a previous felony assault charge stemming from a shooting that occurred March 18, according to reports. Local police are still investigating the incident.

“You don’t pick somebody’s body up off the sidewalk and let somebody else give him a lick to kick the ribs,” Watts said. “That was malicious intent. That was a hate crime and I want them punished for it!”

Watts, who is battered but expected to make a full recovery, has reportedly contacted a lawyer and is working to file hate charges with the U.S. Attorney General’s office. Toledo detectives on Wednesday, however, said that they do not believe the attack was racially motivated despite Watt’s allegations that the youths repeatedly made verbal references to his being white, according to reports.

An interview with Watts from Fox Toledo:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lmh4i-F3oZs&w=420&h=315]
 
A recent article penned by the Southern Poverty Law Center discussing the Trayvon Martin controversy declares, “Walking while black — merely being black — still seems to be a crime in this country.” And, “Black youth are seen as bad kids — ‘combatants,’ in the words of one police chief whose officers routinely mace school children as a means of discipline.”

According to Watts’ account of his ordeal, walking while white—merely being white—was his crime in the eyes of the youths who beat him. And, according to his account, for being white he was viewed as racist. But the police say “case closed” on the possibility of hate being the motivation in the attack.

It has been said by scholars who study race relations that the term “reverse racism” means nothing, as racism is racism. Perhaps in light of the recent heavy focus on race in the Nation, they should re-examine the term for a new meaning: Being viewed as a racist for simply not belonging to a minority race. Regarding the case of Martin, many people have pondered whether the story would have so captivated—and in some circles, enraged— the Nation if George Zimmerman had been portrayed as a man of white and Hispanic descent rather than simply white in initial media reports.

White, frail, elderly, bald, sporting a long beard—or as one clever commenter to an online story put it: looking nothing like Barack Obama’s could-be son—Watts will likely get little support for his hate crime charge from the same type of people who are so adamantly seeking justice for  Martin. Justice may well be blind, but often the people who demand and administer justice in America certainly are not.