Obama’s ‘4th-Best’ President Claim Draws Criticism

After receiving a barrage of ridicule following claims by President Barack Obama that he was the “fourth-best” President, the White House went on the defensive and tried to qualify his assessment, The Washington Times reported.

According to the newspaper, Presidential Spokesman Jay Carney noted that the comments were taken out of context and said he statement was based in part on the “volume” of his achievements.

“The issue here is not going be a list of accomplishments,” Obama told Steve Kroft of CBS’s 60 Minutes during an interview. “As you said yourself, Steve, you know, I would put our legislative and foreign-policy accomplishments in our first two years against any president – with the possible exceptions of Johnson, FDR and Lincoln – just in terms of what we’ve gotten done in modern history.”

The newspaper reported that critics observed that the comments were vain and full of illusions of grandeur.

POLITICO reported that Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin said that Obama will leave a lasting impact, but didn’t agree with his claim that his accomplishments put him over all but three Presidents.

EPA Announces Rules For Oil And Coal Plants

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that hundreds of the nation’s oldest and dirtiest power plants have to either clean up or shut down as part of a new rule outlined last week, The Associated Press reported.

According to the news outlet, the EPA will force plants to control mercury and other toxic pollutants for the first time.

The national standards rein in the biggest source of uncontrolled toxic pollution in the U.S. The emissions from the nation’s coal-and oil-fired power plants, which have been permitted to operate for decades without addressing the impact on the environment and public health costs, the AP reported.

“Before this rule, there were no national standards limiting the amount of mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel and acid gases that power plants across the country could release into the air that we breathe,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said at a conference.

According to TIME Magazine, the public health benefits, as reported by the EPA, will allegedly prevent some 11,000 premature deaths a year and 130,000 childhood asthma symptoms. However, the cost of these regulations may run to $11 billion per year.

Senate Approves Payroll Tax Cut, Unemployment Benefits

The Senate has approved a two-month renewal of payroll tax cuts for every worker and unemployment benefits for millions, The Associated Press reported.

According to the news outlet, the adoption of the measure buys time for negotiations at the beginning of next year on how to pay for a year-long extension of the two percentage point payroll tax cut.

The AP reported that this move would boost the average paycheck of the average worker making an annual salary of $50,000 by up to $20 a week.

House leaders are looking to approve the measure as well, as the goal is to call up the bill using an expedited process that would not require lawmakers to return to Washington for a traditional roll-call vote, according to Fox News.

The news outlet reported that although the plan is for an ultra-quick voting process, the outcome is contingent on there being no objections from lawmakers on the floor.

President Barack Obama noted that this was the only way to ensure taxes won’t go up on January 1, according to Fox News.

“This is good news, just in time for the holidays,” Obama said in a written statement. “This is real money that will make a real difference in people’s lives.”

New Mexico Sheriffs Standing Tall

Gun Owners of America member Dr. Ray Seidel alerted me to the stirring of freedom that is taking place in his village of Ruidoso, N.M. I have already reported on the first battle with Mayor Ray Alborn and how he tried to impose an unConstitutional gun ban in the village.

I recently interviewed Seidel on my Gun Owners News Hour weekly radio program and asked him about several acts of local interposition in the surrounding counties — all of which underscore the importance of the office of the sheriff and the militia.

For example, near Deming, N.M., is the Gila National Forest. The U.S. Forest Service wanted to make almost all of it off limits for people — until the militia of Luna County intervened. The militia told the Feds that it would resist any effort by the Forest Service to restrict access to visitors. The result? Visitors have continued to access all of the Gila National Forest.

In the Southeast corner of the State, many landowners have working oil wells on their property. The Environmental Protection Agency told the oil operators they would have to stop operating their wells because there was too much risk of harming the environment. At a town hall meeting convened by the EPA, a woman in her 60s rose to address the Feds. She pointed out that her land had been in her family for more than 200 years, and she was not about to let some official from an unConstitutional bureaucracy tell her what she could or could not do with her land.

The woman ended by warning the Feds that her family has many guns and a huge supply of ammunition and they would use all of it, if needed, to keep the EPA off of their land. The locals who had packed out the hearing room jumped to their feet with a shout and prolonged applause. That was in August. So far, oil is still being pumped at full tilt.

In Otero County, villages in the mountains are surrounded by forests. The county commission voted to establish an 80,000-acre plan to manage forest overgrowth. Residents wanted to cut fire breaks to protect their homes in Cloudcroft, but the Forest Service said, “No.” The residents responded that they had to for safety’s sake and were going to construct the fire break in spite of the Forest Service. Residents were told that if they cut down any trees, they would be arrested. But Sheriff Benny House told the Forest Service that if they made any arrests, they would be arrested for false arrest.

Not only were the trees cut down with no opposition from the Feds, but the first tree was cut down by Representative Steve Pearce (R-N.M.). I wish there were many more people like Pearce. The folks in New Mexico’s Second District are blessed with a Constitution-supporting congressman and a number of Constitutional sheriffs backed by the militias of their counties. This is the way that local governments can push back and help the Feds live within the limitations that have been placed upon them in Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution.

As you can see, there’s a lot happening in New Mexico. Seidel has been at the center of a lot of it. Two weeks after the people of Ruidoso prevailed in the gun ban debate, the mayor decided to seek revenge. He went to the State capital of Santa Fe and met with Federal officials there. That same week, Seidel got a notice from the Internal Revenue Service stating that he had until a certain date to file his taxes, which he has refused to do for several years.

Seidel makes no secret of his refusal to submit to the IRS, which he considers part of an unConstitutional regime in Washington. The IRS intended to encumber his assets if he did not bend his knee. Seidel visited the county sheriff, who understood what Seidel was trying to do and told him he would have his back. The same was true for the village police chief, the same officer who refused to have his men arrest people who were defying the Ruidoso gun ban by carrying openly in the village council chambers.

Not only were the sheriff and police chief alerted to the possibility of IRS action against Seidel, but so was the militia in Lincoln County — more than 200 men who keep their rifles and battle bags in their vehicles 24/7. They can muster in about 30 minutes at any place in the county.

Seidel visited with the village assessor, who would be the official to place the encumbrances on his assets. Seidel explained (as he does with everyone) that Title 42, Chapter 1, Subchapter 1, Section 1983 of the Federal code would be used to sue her personally for violating his civil rights. That is, he would sue her if any of his assets were encumbered without having first secured a warrant from an Article III court.

Seidel has frequently argued that he will gladly submit to a Federal court (authorized under Article III of the U.S. Constitution) as opposed to a mere tax court (which is an unConstitutional creature within the IRS). As with many administrative agencies, the combining of legislative, executive and judicial powers within the same four walls constitutes the very definition of tyranny, which James Madison warned us about in Federalist 47.

Seidel has used Title 42 on other occasions. One involved a state trooper with an anger-management problem who falsely arrested Seidel’s son. Since being served with a Title 42 suit, the officer has been able to control his anger.

The deadline is long past and the IRS has done nothing, so the assessor is off the hook for now. But New Mexico is becoming a textbook example of how the Founding Fathers envisioned the States would rein in an out-of-control government.

As stated by Alexander Hamilton in Federalist 28: “It may safely be received as an axiom in our political system that the State governments will, in all possible contingencies, afford complete security against invasions of the public liberty by the national authority.”

If there were more sheriffs like those in New Mexico serving around the country, we would be well on the way to safeguarding our liberties against Washington’s “invasions of the public liberty.” It also might occur to the Congress that more examples of sheriffs interposing themselves might result in shrinking down the Federal government to do little more than just funding the national defense.

–Larry Pratt

Defense Department Reports Fewer Than 300 National Guard Troops Will Be Kept At Border

The Administration of President Barack Obama will keep a small amount of National Guard troops stationed along the Mexican border for the next year, the Defense Department said on Tuesday.

The Associated Press reported that starting in January, the force of 1,200 National Guard troops at the border will be reduced to less than 300 at a cost of roughly $60 million, noted Paul Stockton, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense.

According to the news outlet, the troops will divert their efforts to the air, as they will switch from patrolling the border on the ground to using aerial surveillance missions in military helicopters and airplanes equipped with high-tech radar and other gear.

“We are basically going from boots on the ground to boots in the air,” David Aguilar, deputy commissioner for Customs and Border Protection, told the AP.

The Hill reported that the reaction in Congress was split along party lines, as House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) noted that troops should remain until Border Patrol agents have assumed control of a majority of the operations.

“If the Obama Administration’s goal is border security, their actions undermine their objective,” Smith said. “The administration’s decision to draw down the National Guard troops along the U.S.-Mexico border makes an already porous border worse.”

House GOP Plans To Reject Payroll Tax Cut Extension

With the Upper Chamber on break for the holidays, GOP members of the House are moving to shelve a bipartisan two-month extension of the Social Security payroll tax cut that was cleared by the Senate, The Associated Press reported.

According to the news outlet, these Representatives are demanding that the Senate return to the Capitol for negotiations over the tax cuts. President Barack Obama’s tax initiative and other expiring measures include jobless benefits for roughly 1.8 million people who will lose them next month if Congress doesn’t act.

The AP reported that the House Republicans said they would move to set up an official House-Senate negotiating panel known as a conference committee instead of accepting the stopgap measure cleared by the Senate.

“Do you want to do something for 60 days that kicks the can down the road?” Representative Jeb Hensarling, (R-Texas) said in a statement. “Or do you want to do what the president asked us to do? And we’re people who don’t agree with the president all that often.”

CNN reported that if the measure is not passed in 12 days, the payroll tax cut that has saved a typical household $1,000 this year will expire.

Supreme Court To Hear Healthcare Challenge In March

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear challenges to the Affordable Care Act in March 2012, as the battle over “Obamacare” will be taken to the nation’s highest court, The Washington Times reported.

According to the newspaper, the court announced that the three-day hearing will take place March 26 to 28.

Shortly after the news broke, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius unveiled 32 healthcare providers that have been selected to become Accountable Care Organizations. These would act as new models created under the law that is intended to improve efficiencies and cut costs.

Though the court usually allots less time for oral arguments, the healthcare issue is so highly contested that the longer period was provided for both sides to make their arguments, the Times reported.

“We’re really looking forward to arguing this case, and we have all the confidence in the world in our standing in it,” Cynthia Magnuson, spokeswoman for the National Federation of Independent Business, told the newspaper of her optimism that the law will be overturned.

The Hill reported that the timing of the hearing has promoted the expectation that the court will rule on the issue next June.

Democrats Outpace Republicans In Race For Lobbyist Cash

The national political parties took more money from lobbyists in the first half of 2011 than in any other six-month period in recorded history, with the Democrats outpacing their GOP rivals, The Washington Times reported.

According to the newspaper, this outpacing has occurred despite President Barack Obama’s vilification of special-interest giving. Congressional records show that the Republicans’ fundraising groups have received $1 million from lobbyists compared with the $1.3 million taken by the Democrats.

“It’s hypocritical,” Howard Marlowe, president of the American League of Lobbyists, told the Times. “He’s found someone who’s got a couple percentage points lower [approval] than Congress and he’s going to pound away. … Meanwhile, all these folks absolutely love money from whatever source, as long as it’s legal.”

Lobbyists from all areas of business have continued to donate to Federal organizations. According to The Associated Press, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the securities industry’s self-policing organization, spent $280,000 in the third quarter to lobby on regulations in the industry.

The news outlet reported that FINRA directed this money to lobby Congress and the Securities and Exchange Commission, who have been writing rules to put into effect the 2010 revamp of financial laws.

To Barack From Congress: Merry Christmas

The most predictable governing body on the planet, the U.S. Congress, is once again doing some of its sleaziest sleight-of-hand work at year’s end, with the comfort of knowing that we lowly proletarians are focused on holiday festivities. The average American is totally confused about the flurry of year-end legislation and political posturing coming out of the Nation’s capital, and with good reason: Politicians work hard at creating confusion.

Now, let’s see if I understand this. The Dems want to “cut taxes” by extending a “tax holiday” on some of the money that workers pay into the Social Security retirement “fund.” Could it be that Democrats aren’t as liberal as some of us have believed them to be? After all, they can’t be so bad if they actually favor a tax cut.

I wish that were true, but it isn’t. The truth is that it’s nothing more than a gimmick to keep American piglets mesmerized while feeding at the government’s entitlement trough.

I realize that many true-blue conservatives and libertarians believe that any tax cut is a good tax cut; and, in theory, they’re right. But cutting payroll taxes is an illusory tax cut. It’s attacking the symptom (payroll taxes) rather than the cause (Social Security). And, like it or not, for now Social Security is a fact of life in the People’s Republic of America.

That being the case, if not enough money is extracted from workers to pay Social Security benefits to those who currently qualify for them, it has to be taken through an invisible tax (“inflation”) or paid for by politicians’ favorite tax targets: our children and grandchildren (by borrowing the money needed to cover the shortfall).

So far, so bad. Now, to the second part of the year-end razzle-dazzle game: extending unemployment benefits. Has any Republican Congressperson taken the trouble to ask: “What do unemployment benefits have to do with extending the payroll tax cut?”

Will Republicans ever say no to an extension of unemployment benefits? Absolutely, positively not. After all, principles can get in the way of capturing votes. Progressive Republicans in the House and Senate are very convincing when they rail against wealth redistribution in front of the TV cameras. Then, they turn right around and vote for it even more convincingly. The truth be known, Republicans have never met a piece of wealth-redistribution legislation they didn’t like.

Segue to the third piece of Congress’ year-end game of razzle-dazzle: the Keystone XL pipeline, which has absolutely nothing to do with either payroll taxes or unemployment benefits. It’s just more of the same. Spin, twist, obfuscate and lie convincingly enough, and the anesthetized public, too fatigued from Christmas shopping and football, can be counted on to not understand that a hemorrhoidectomy is being performed on them — again.

What the Keystone XL pipeline issue does is give accommodating Republicans the escape hatch they always seek in order to be able to falsely claim victory in their losing efforts against Democrats. After all, how can you not applaud Republicans for agreeing to a bill that gives the illusion of moving forward with an oil pipeline from Canada, a project that promises to create thousands of jobs and help wean America off its dependency on foreign oil?

If that’s what it did, maybe you could forgive Republicans for once again extending unemployment benefits in exchange for getting their way on the Keystone XL pipeline. But that is not what it does. As always, there’s an out for our humble leader in the White House who now claims to be the fourth most effective president in American history (after Lyndon B. Johnson, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln — meaning that Barack Obama believes he’s been a better President than such run-of-the-mill guys as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson).

The out I’m referring to is that the wording in the bill requires Obama to grant a permit for the pipeline unless he decides that it’s “not in the national interest.” Gosh, I wonder what the likelihood is of his deciding it’s not in the “national interest?” Sounds a bit like “that depends upon what the meaning of is is.”

In other words, the legislation merely speeds up the decision process on Keystone, but does not determine whether the project will be approved. And the State Department, which has the final authority over approving the project, has already made it clear that it would not be able to conduct the necessary review if given only 60 days, the timeline set by House Republicans. That sounds to me like “case closed.”

Interestingly, Obama’s former National Security Adviser, Jim Jones — who almost never contradicts his one-time boss — said last week in a press call sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute: “… any threat to this project, by delay or otherwise, would constitute a significant setback. The failure to [move forward with the project] will prolong the risk to our economy and our energy security [and] send the wrong message to job creators.”

Risk to our economy… risk to our energy future… send the wrong message to job creators? Sounds to me like Obama’s Christmas wish list. After all, you can’t expect a mere $4 million Hawaiian vacation to satisfy a highfalutin community organizer of his stature.

–Robert Ringer

EPA Ponders Expanded Regulatory Power

The focus of an upcoming global United Nations conference will be the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) goal to change how it makes decisions and analyzes problems to give it more power to regulate businesses, communities and ecosystems in the name of “sustainable development,” according to Fox News.

The news outlet reported that the major reason behind the EPA thinking is a study that the agency commissioned last year from the National Academies of Science. The study, entitled “Sustainability and the U.S. EPA,” cost nearly $700,000 and was run by a team of outside experts and staff from the academies.

Fox News reported that the aim of the study was to determine how to integrate sustainability “as one of the key drivers within the regulatory responsibilities of EPA.” The panel also wrote that part of its job is to be “providing guidance to EPA on how it might implement its existing statutory authority to contribute more fully to a more sustainable-development trajectory for the United States.”

The Associated Press reported that rules from the EPA have recently threatened to shut down more than 32 coal-fired power plants in a dozen States.

U.S. And North Korea Hold Talks Over Food Aid

U.S. officials say food aid to North Korea may resume depending on whether Pyongyang can provide the necessary monitoring assurances in talks between the two countries that began in Beijing, The Associated Press reported.

According to the news outlet, the United Nations and charities from the U.S. have said that aid is needed in this Asian country, but the Americans are concerned that North Korea, which has consolidated resources into a nuclear weapons program, could divert the food aid to political elites and the military.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Wednesday that the aid could include both vitamin supplements and high-protein biscuits for malnourished individuals in addition to more generic food, according to the AP.

These items would be less likely to end up "on some leader's banquet table," said Nuland in a conference. "They (North Korean officials) know that we were obviously deeply dissatisfied with the way this went before and that we need more discussions about it."

TIME magazine reported that the North Korean government recently threatened their neighbors to the south after South Koreans fixed large towers on the border with Christmas lights.

Gold Prices Gain On European Uncertainty

The price of gold rose for a second straight day in New York, rebounding from a drop last week, as concerns about Europe's debt crisis push demand upwards, Bloomberg reported.

According to the news outlet, gold had dropped last week due to the sharp rise of the American dollar versus the euro, but the metal was able to recover the losses after Fitch Ratings lowered its outlook for several European nations.

"Gold suffered from a renewed rush for dollar liquidity, but in the long run its outlook remains solid," Andrey Kryuchenkov, an analyst at VTB Capital in London, told Bloomberg. "Accommodative monetary policy across the globe will continue to secure gold’s inflation hedge role."

The news outlet reported that Goldman Sachs analysts predicted prices for the metal will average $1,810 an ounce next year as central banks will buy between 400 and 600 metric tons of gold.

The price of gold for February delivery rose by $9.50 to $1,607.50 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange, marking an increase of 0.60 percent for the commodity, according to CNN.

North Korean Leader Kim Jong Il Dies At 69

Kim Jong Il, supreme leader of North Korea, died on Saturday, December 17, after an apparent heart attack during a train ride, state television reported, according to Forbes.

The news outlet reported that the North Korean leader is said to have had a history of serious ailments, including diabetes, stroke and pancreatic cancer. He may have been on dialysis at the time of his passing.

Fox News reported that President Barack Obama is consulting with allies following the death of Il, as the heart attack has catapulted his son Kim Jong Un to power. This transition could further destabilize the world’s most isolated country.

“This brings extraordinary change and uncertainty to a country that has seen little change in decades. South Korea’s concern is warranted, frankly, because an insecure North Korea could well be an even more dangerous North Korea,” a U.S. official told the news outlet.

The military and police forces of South Korea were placed on high alert following the death of Kim, and president Lee Myung-bak spoke with Obama to reaffirm “the United States’ strong commitment to the stability of the Korean Peninsula and the security of our close ally,” according to the White House.

Congress Overturns Ban On Incandescent Light Bulbs

Congressional negotiators struck a deal that overturns the new rules that would have banned sales of traditional incandescent light bulbs beginning in 2012, The Washington Times reported.

According to the newspaper, Congressional Republicans won inclusion of the light bulb provision into the massive 1,200 page spending bill. This move prevents the Administration of President Barack Obama from carrying through a 2007 law that would have set energy efficiency standards which would have rendered the traditional light source obsolete.

Although the bill doesn’t amend the 2007 law, it prohibits the Administration from spending any money to carry out the light bulb standards, the Times reported.

The Hill reported that the light bulb standards put forth by the Energy Department have come under fire from conservatives in recent months. The energy legislation contained provisions that would require traditional incandescent bulbs to be 30 percent more efficient starting in 2012.

Republicans had described the standards as a “light bulb ban,” arguing that the rules would restrict consumer choice by pushing out traditional incandescent bulbs in favor of more expensive, but more efficient, LED (light emitting diode) and CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs, according to the news outlet.

Congress Reaches Deal To Avoid Government Shutdown

Congressional leaders signed off on a deal Thursday night to bypass the legislative logjam that had been threatening another government shutdown, The Washington Times reported.

According to the newspaper, the deal would have both the House and Senate pass a $1 trillion bill to fund the government, with both parties backing off on provisions that the other side had deemed unacceptable.

"The House and Senate have reached a final agreement to move forward on the final fiscal year 2012 appropriations legislation. I am hopeful that the House and Senate can pass this bill tomorrow to prevent a government shutdown. It is good to see that responsible leadership and good governance can triumph," Representative Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) said in a statement.

The Washington Post reported that now the spending deal has been reached, the payroll tax issue remains the last fight to occur during the first session of the 112th Congress. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) noted that the public needed to give the government time to strike a deal.

"I think there’s an easy way to untangle all of this," Boehner said in a statement. "We just need to let the members do their jobs, and we need to let the two institutions do their work."

Arab Diplomat Notes al-Qaida Rebranding Itself

The al-Qaida organization in the Arabian Peninsula is rebranding itself to try to lose the negative image associated with the larger terror organization’s identity, a senior Arab diplomat told Fox News.

According to the news outlet, the diplomat noted that the Yemeni-based group is trying to attract more foreign fighters to its cause. AQAP is increasingly going by the name “Ansar al-Sharia,” which means Army of Islamic Law.

“After (Osama) bin Laden’s death and the Arab Spring, the name (al-Qaida) seems to have negative connotations and baggage,” the diplomat, who asked to remain nameless, told Fox News.

The news outlet reported that the rebranding efforts will be part of a larger push to attract foreign jihadists and give it a greater air of legitimacy as a political movement.

A senior Yemini official told Fox News that the number of foreign fighters in his country now exceeds 1,000.

Despite the proposed name change, the group is still operating under similar circumstances.

House Republicans Unveil $1 Trillion Spending Bill

GOP Representatives have unveiled a massive $1 trillion-plus spending package despite a plea from the White House for additional talks over a number of provisions opposed by President Barack Obama, The Associated Press reported.

According to the news outlet, the measure curbs agency budget cuts but drops many of the political provisions that were originally sought by GOP conservatives. It also contains language to roll back policies from the Obama Administration.

The AP reported that Democratic leverage to stall the massive spending measure seems limited, since this opposition would raise the threat of a government shutdown.

Release of the legislation – to meet GOP transparency rules if a vote is to be held Friday – came despite the White House issuing a statement hours before saying that Obama "continues to have significant concerns about a number of provisions" in the proposal, according to the news outlet.

Although the Republicans put forth the bill, Obama and the Democrats want Congress to deal with the payroll tax cut issue prior to reviewing the new legislation, USA Today reported.

U.S. To Leave Iraqi Airspace Clear For Israelis

The U.S. military's December 31 deadline for exiting Iraq is fast-approaching and may leave the airspace over the country vacant, helping put Israel in a better place strategically to strike Iran's nuclear facilities, The Washington Times reported.

According to the newspaper, Iraq has yet to assemble a force of jet fighters, and since the shortest route for planes from Israel to Iran is through Iraqi airspace, the U.S. exit helps with the Jewish state's mission planning.

The Times reported that Army Major General Jeffrey Buchanan, the top U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, noted that the Iraqi military has yet to take possession of American F-16s to guard their airspace.

"The country has a capable and improving capability to see the airspace, a viable system to provide command and control, but no system to defeat incoming air threats until it gets either the F-16s or ground-based systems or, optimally, some of both," Buchanan told the newspaper.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the President Barack Obama Administration is concerned that Iran is on the verge of being able to enrich uranium at a deep underground facility.

Postal Service Halts Plans To Close Mail-Sorting Facilities

Only a few days after top officials from the U.S. Postal Service said they were moving forward with closing mail-sorting facilities nationwide, the agency halted the plans due to pressure from members of Congress.

According to The Washington, the agency released a brief statement that explained how the Postal Service would delay the closures until May due to a request by multiple Senators.

“The Postal Service hopes this period will help facilitate the enactment of comprehensive postal legislation,” the statement said.

The Associated Press reported that the proposed closures would have included 252 mail processing centers and 3,700 local post offices. The cash-strapped agency, which is expected to lose $14.1 billion next year, had planned on closing certain sites as early as April.

According to the news outlet, a group of 18 Democratic Senators signed a letter to Congressional leaders that asked them to add language that would help delay the closings, which may cost 100,000 postal employees their jobs.

Obama To Cut National Guard Force Stationed At U.S.-Mexico Border

The Administration of President Barack Obama will cut the number of National Guard troops who are patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border by at least half, according to The Washington Times.

According to the newspaper, the main reason for the pullout, reported a Congressman who was briefed on the plan, was the cuts to the Federal budget that are set to take place.

The Times reported that the National Guard said an announcement would be made by the White House “in the near future,” but Representative Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) said slashing the deployment in half would bring the total troop numbers to a minimum amount.

“What’s apparent now is that a decision not to continue their deployment, even though it might be in the national interest to do so, would be based entirely on budget constraints on the Defense Department,” Hunter said in a statement.

The Associated Press reported that this development came at a time when a proposal is being considered that would install kiosks in Big Bend National Park in Texas. This would allow people from the tiny Mexican town of Boquillas del Carmen to scan their identity documents and speak with a customs official more than 100 miles away.

New York Federal Court In Preparation For Pregnancy Pill Showdown

A Federal judge in Brooklyn is poised to hear arguments concerning the decisions made by the government over the access teenage girls are given to morning-after contraceptive pills, according to The Associated Press.

According to the news outlet, the arguments come just a week after Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled scientists at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and announced that the pills would only be given without prescription to individuals 17 and older.

“Yet, it is commonly understood that there are significant cognitive and behavioral differences between older adolescent girls and the youngest girls of reproductive age, which I believe are relevant to making this determination as to non-prescription availability of this product for all ages,” Sebelius said of studies submitted to the government that did not include data on all ages.

Judge Edward Korman, who will hear the arguments concerning the Constitutionality of blocking over-the-counter-sales of the emergency contraception to girls younger than 17, had previously ordered the FDA to let 17-year-olds obtain the pill, according to NY News 1.