"Barack Obama 'kidnaps' 24 hero Jack Bauer"

A discussion on the new politically correct version of Jack Bauer see this.

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The problem with gun locks

Well, even though Adrian Monk couldn't get the gun out of the gun safe at least the safe itself could be used as a weapon. This is one of the very few TV shows that have made fun of gun locks. Monk's line "Don't move there is a gun in here" is classic.

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Elections have consequences: Trial lawyers will be very busy in labor markets

These are great. After all, it was so horrible that the Supreme Court followed the letter of the law and said that you couldn't bring a lawsuit decades after when the violation was said to have occurred. Also, won't it be great for the courts to get deeply involved in terming how much workers should get paid. If you don't think that you are getting paid enough, move. Get another job. Anyway, the Left wing Times has the story here:

The House voted on Friday to give women powerful new tools to challenge sex discrimination by employers who pay women less than men for the same or substantially similar work.

The action shows how Congress, working with President-elect Barack Obama, intends to make a swift, sharp break with civil rights policies of the Bush administration.

“In the first week of the new Congress, this is the legislation we are putting forward: pay equity, fairness to women in the workplace,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California. “These are our priorities. This Congress has heard the message of change in the election.”

The House passed two related bills on Friday. One, approved 247 to 171, would give workers more time to file lawsuits claiming job discrimination.

The bill would overturn a 2007 decision by the Supreme Court that enforced a strict 180-day deadline, thwarting a lawsuit by Lilly M. Ledbetter, a longtime supervisor at the Goodyear tire plant in Gadsden, Ala. Three Republicans voted for the bill.

The other bill — passed 256 to 163, with support from 10 Republicans — would make it easier for women to prove violations of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which generally requires equal pay for equal work. . . .



British National Health Service Outrage

From the UK Daily Mail:

A vulnerable patient starved to death in an NHS hospital after 26 days without proper nourishment.
Martin Ryan, 43, had suffered a stroke which left him unable to swallow.
But a 'total breakdown in communication' meant he was never fitted with a feeding tube. It was one of a number of horrific cases where the NHS fatally failed patients with learning difficulties, a health watchdog is expected to rule later this month.
Emma Kemp, 26, was denied cancer treatment that could have saved her life, while 30-year-old Mark Cannon died two months after being admitted to hospital with a broken leg.

Three other cases followed similar patterns, with warnings ignored or problems missed until it was too late, often because the patients had difficulty communicating.

Ann Abraham, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, is expected to deliver a withering verdict in her report.

Sources said the overall picture of neglect that it paints is devastating.

Campaigners will seize on the findings as evidence of a wider problem of institutional discrimination in the health service.

The father of one man who died, who was just 20, said: 'People like my son are treated as less than human'.

The six cases were first highlighted by the disability charity Mencap in a report entitled Death By Indifference. . . . .

Tory spokesman Anne Milton said: 'Unfortunately we are still seeing some pretty shocking cases where people's needs have been neglected and they are not gaining equal access to the NHS.

'Although these might be isolated incidents, every case like this is one too many.

'This is another deeply worrying example of how the Government has yet to get to grips with providing first-class care for everyone, including people with disabilities.'

Mr Ryan, who had Down's syndrome, died in hospital in Kingston-upon-Thames.

An internal inquiry by the hospital found that doctors had thought nurses were feeding him through a tube in his nose.

By the time they found out this was not happening, he was too weak for an operation to insert a tube into his stomach.

He died in agony five days later.

Mr Ryan's distraught family, from Richmond, South-west London, are convinced he could have been saved by the correct treatment.

One relative said of him: 'Martin will always be the light of my life. He had a quirky sense of humour and oodles of charm. He was often smiling - he loved to go out, liked the movement of the coach and listening to the music.'

Death by Indifference was published in 2007 as part of Mencap's long-running Treat Me Right! campaign for better healthcare for people with learning disabilities. . . .

Thanks very much to Ed Kardauskas for this link.

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24's Jack Bauer apologizes for saving the world

Christian Toto has a nice, though depressing warning, of the new season of Fox's 24 here.


Cold Weather Claims Lives Across Europe

Good thing that we have Global Warning, right? The AFP has this story:

Europe's cold snap claimed up to 13 more lives as the region battled another day of icy weather and eastern Europe felt the effects of Russian gas cuts.
Poland's interior ministry said Thursday that six more people had died in the country, taking its death toll from hypothermia to 82 since November, 23 of them in recent days.
Five people, including three homeless, also died in Ukraine's southern Kherson region where temperatures plummeted to minus 19 degrees Celsius (minus 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the ministry of emergency situations.
While German police said Thursday the cold snap had claimed another two victims since Monday, both found in the west of the country where temperatures plunged to minus 16 Celsius.
Heavy snow on the northern shores of the Mediterranean also left the French port of Marseille paralysed, with its airport remaining closed well into the day and 10,000 homes going without electricity overnight, officials said. . . .

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Technology helping to solve crime: GPS in cell phones

The Associated Press has this:

BOSTON — An Athol, Mass., woman who allegedly kidnapped her 9-year-old granddaughter was tracked a motel in Virginia, according to the Worcester Telegram and Gazette.

An Athol police officer and a deputy chief in the town's fire department located Rose M. Maltais, 52, and called Virginia State Police. She was arrested at the Budget Inn in Natural Bridge, Va., at about 4:15 p.m Tuesday.

Maltais, and her granddaughter, Natalie, had been missing since Saturday when Maltais picked up her grandchild for a weekend visit.

Officials had the girl's cell phone number, which they used to track her and Maltais.

The cell phone provider gave police GPS coordinates every time the phone was activated. Officials used that information along with Google's street view application to find the name of the hotel where they were staying.

Maltais was being held in Virginia pending rendition to Massachusetts. The child will be returned to her legal guardians, the newspaper reported.


Predictions that Blagojevich could survive

From the WSJ's Political Diary today:

Meanwhile, Mr. Fitzgerald has yet to indict the governor on a single charge, leading to accusations that he was too quick to unveil his evidence consisting mostly of conversational bluster. If Mr. Fitzgerald fails to bring an indictment, the governor will almost certainly survive in office. And if he fails to win a conviction, the legislature will likely be unable to remove Blago. -- Brendan Miniter


Permits for buying ammunition in Durham, NC

The News & Observer has the story here:

DURHAM -- An effort to get Durham officials to seek legislation that would require people buying ammunition to first obtain a permit has touched off a lobbying campaign by both supporters and opponents.

The Rev. Melvin Whitley of Durham has been lobbying to get what he calls the "Bullet Ownership Bill" on a list of legislation sought by Durham officials in the coming legislative session.

Among the bill's provisions: required permits for buying ammunition and a prohibition on ammunition purchase by several classes of people, including convicted felons, drug addicts and the mentally ill. . . .

Thanks to John Greenlee for the link.



Some notes on Eric Holder, the next Attorney General for the US

Here is an email that I received today.

Mr. Holder:
- Officially opposed the Heller vs. D.C. gun decision, signing onto an amicus brief with former Attorney General Janet Reno;[1]
- Supported a three-day waiting period for handgun purchases;
- Supported a one handgun per month rule;
- Supported licensing and registering all gun owners;
- Opposes the “gun-show loophole,” claiming in an editorial shortly following 9/11 that terrorists would be/were procuring weapons illegally at these gun shows.

In his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee as Deputy Attorney General under President Clinton and Janet Reno, Mr. Holder proclaimed that 13 kids on average die every day because guns are too easily accessible and proposed four measures to “reduce inappropriate youth access to firearms:”[2]
1. Raise the minimum age that a young person can possess a handgun from 18 to 21;
2. Ban the possession by youth of all assault weapons.
3. Require the sale of a child safety lock or safe storage device with every firearm.
4. Hold adults criminally responsible for not preventing a child from finding/using a gun and causing death or serious injury.

Obama has stated on his campaign Website that he will seek to reauthorize the assault weapons ban and eliminate the Tiahrt amendment. At the same time, Obama has stated that he believes the Second Amendment is an individual right. While the gun issue may not come to the forefront this year, the nomination or Eric Holder is not encouraging to gun owners and could have a negative impact on gun owners through the regulatory and administrative process at the Department of Justice. It is clear that Mr. Holder views gun control on law-abiding citizens as a solution to crime. . . .

[Holder quotes]

“The Second Amendment Does Not Protect Firearms Possession or Use That Is Unrelated To Participation In a Well-Regulated Militia.”

Eric Holder, Jr., et al., Brief for Former Department of Justice Officials as Amici Curiae Supporting Petitioners, District of Columbia v. Heller, (2003).

“One measure that is an essential part of any [national security] plan is the need to tighten our nation’s gun laws, which allow the easy and legal sale of firearms to terrorists and criminals. . . . [F]ederal law does not require background checks on all firearms sales. In the interest of national security, this should be changed immediately.”

“To further strengthen the ability of law enforcement officials to track those suspected of terrorism or other criminal acts in this country, Congress should also pass legislation that would give the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms a record of every firearm sale.”

Eric Holder, Jr., “Keeping Guns Away from Terrorists,” The Washington Post, Oct. 25, 2001.

“A mandatory 72-hour waiting period for all happen-gun purchases will help stop heat-of-the-moment killings and a proposed increase in the minimum age for handgun possession from 18 to 21 will get hand guns out of the hands of the most crime-prone age group.”

Eric Holder, Jr., News Clip, “Firing New Rounds,” Online NewsHour, PBS, May 27, 1999.

“[Crime] [p]revention is about keeping guns out of criminals[’] hands and out of our children’s hands. And yes it is about closing the dangerous gun show loophole, it is about making sure that child safety locks are sold with every gun, it is about ensuring that violent juvenile offenders are not able to turn around and buy a gun on their 21st birthdays, and it is also about limiting children’s access to guns by raising the age for firearms possession. These are but a few of the critical, common sense measures that can help keep guns out of the hands of our children.”

Eric Holder, Jr., Deputy Attorney General, Lunch and Keynote Address, “Child Welfare in the District of Columbia,” Nov. 17, 1999.

“I don’t have any doubt that there would be a substantial number of people alive at the end of next year, who might not otherwise be alive, if we had that trigger lock legislation.”

Eric Holder, Jr., Deputy Attorney General DOJ Media Briefing re: Columbine, Apr. 22, 1999.

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Senate Democrats and Obama Reversing Course on Seating Burris

Well, I guess getting another Democratic Senator in there right away than the moral outrage that the Democrats showed when his appointment was first announced. Today the NY Times has this:

After a private 45-minute meeting with the former Illinois state attorney general, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, and Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, said that they were open to recognizing Mr. Burris’s appointment as long as he met several conditions. . . .

If that comes to a positive conclusion, as we believe it will, the next step is for the Rules Committee to review what has come together here on a bipartisan basis and recommend to the United States Senate, both Democrats and Republicans, the next step,” Mr. Durbin said.

I know Roland Burris,” the president-elect said. “Obviously, I’ve — he’s from my home state. I think he’s a fine public servant. If he gets seated, then I’m going to work with Roland Burris, just like I work with all the other senators, to make sure that the people of Illinois and the people of the country are served.” . . .

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WSJ: "For Middle-Class Pakistanis, a Gun Is a Must-Have Accessory"

So what do you do when the government can't protect you? Here is what happens in Pakistan.

LAHORE, Pakistan -- After escaping kidnappers who chained him to a bed for 25 days, Mohammad Javed Afridi pressed Pakistani law enforcement for swift justice. The police offered him something else: temporary permits for four automatic assault rifles.

Since Mr. Afridi's ordeal ended in mid-October, police in his hometown of Peshawar, in northwestern Pakistan, haven't made an arrest in his case. They raided the kidnappers' hide-out, but the captors got away, a senior Peshawar police official says.

So the cops allowed Mr. Afridi to arm himself against future abductions. The 35-year-old journalist now carries an AK-47 to work and back home to his wife and five children. Relatives rotate duty as his bodyguards. If his car is again stopped by armed men on a dark road, Mr. Afridi vows to shoot first.

"I'm not going through that again," he said in an interview in this city in northeastern Pakistan.

Guns have long been part of Pakistan's traditional culture, especially in the rugged northwestern part of the country. Handed down through generations, rifles have been used for hunting and for firing celebratory fusillades. Now, however, modern assault rifles and handguns have come into vogue among middle-class Pakistanis, and gun registration has jumped.

This proliferation reflects many urbanites' dwindling faith that the country's new civilian government can protect them. Over the past year, Pakistan has endured the assassination of popular political leader Benazir Bhutto, a spreading Islamist insurgency and the bombing of Islamabad's Marriott Hotel. November's deadly terror attacks in Mumbai, allegedly carried out by 10 Pakistani militants trained here, further frayed nerves.

But more than heightened terrorist threats, many Pakistanis fear the surge in violent kidnappings, extortions and robberies that target those who look like they might have money. The 11,758 murders recorded in the first 11 months of 2008 were the highest in Pakistan in at least a decade, say Islamabad police, who compile nationwide crime statistics.

"People buy weapons because they're insecure," said a senior Interior Ministry official. "No need denying it." . . . .

Here is an important quote:

Others say the government isn't doing enough to get arms in the hands of those who need them. "Criminals don't have licenses, so why do we need to get a license?" asked Tariq Rana, who on a recent day was buying an illegal 12-gauge shotgun after he was robbed of his cellphone, watch and cash the night before. "I couldn't get an arms license because I don't know any politicians."

Thanks to Karl Christensen for the link.

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Real gas prices now lower than when Bush took office

The Washington Times has the story here:

A once-popular bumper sticker says simply, "When Bush took office, gas was $1.46." It was meant to be a slam, but as the end of his eight years approaches, President Bush is seeing gas prices that, adjusted for inflation, are lower than when he was inaugurated.

Last week's $1.59 - the average for a gallon of regular on Dec. 29, according to the Energy Information Administration - works out to $1.33 in 2001 dollars, or 9 percent less than it was the day Mr. Bush took office. The tumble in prices, from a high of more than $4.05 in early July, has meant incredible savings. . . .

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"Seventy-year-old woman holds home intruder at gunpoint"

Sorry for such a long post here, but this is a very well done story from WNDU TV in South Bend, Indiana.

Posted: 10:54 PM Jan 4, 2009
Last Updated: 12:37 AM Jan 6, 2009
Reporter: Sarah Platt, Alana Greenfogel
Email Address: Sarah.Platt@wndu.com, Alana.Greenfogel@wndu.com
Uncut: Sandra's call to 911
Seventy-year-old woman holds home intruder at gunpoint, talks about ordeal
Elderly South Bend woman holds home invader at gunpoint

It's not uncommon to hear stories of people defending their homes and themselves from intruders-- but when it's a 70-year-old woman, that story is a bit more uncommon.

It's exactly what happened in St. Joseph County on Sunday night, after an intruder broke into an elderly woman's home on Portage Road.

The woman held the man at gunpoint until police arrived. That man is 28-year-old Cyrus Brown. Brown is being held in jail on a number of charges, including burglary and intimidation.

The woman who defended herself is Sandra. She asked us not to use her last name. Newscenter 16 spoke to her by phone Monday night, while she recovered in her hospital room. She’s being treated for heart problems, problems she didn't have until Sunday night's scare.

As you'll hear, this 70-year-old is a gutsy lady who wasn't about to let anybody mess with her.

It was all started about nine o'clock Sunday night. Sandra says she was in the midst of splitting wood for her fire and making vegetable soup, when she heard a ruckus outside.

“All of a sudden, I’m hearing fast footsteps around my yard, around my deck,” says Sandra.

That's when she says she grabbed her gun and called 911. Moments later-- the intruder-- 28-year-old Cyrus Brown, broke through her back patio door, pushing his way through the glass.

“Immediately, I felt there was danger because he was so desperate,” explains the 70-year-old. “He's in the kitchen by the stove, I told him to get down on the floor. I said if you come any closer to me, I will shoot you to kill. I told him to sit down, don't move, and I want to see your hands at all times,” adds Sandra.

Newscenter 16 obtained the 911 call that Sandra made. In the background, you can hear her demanding the suspect get down.

911 call:
Dispatch: “Ma’am, where is he at in the house?”
Sandra: “Get, get, get! You have more to fear from me!”

911 call:
Dispatch: “Ma'am, are you holding him at gunpoint?”
Sandra: “Yes, I am. And if he moves towards me, I'm afraid I'm going to have to kill. I don't want to have to kill him.”

In that moment, Sandra says she was glad she had a gun and knew how to use it-- just in case.

“I thought that this could turn out badly because I heard of other people being murdered in their house, but I decided, I wasn't going to go down without a fight. I owe that to my children,” she explains. “Guns aren't all bad, only in the hands of the criminal and guns can be a good defense.”

In the end, you can hear the relief in Sandra's voice, as the police arrive at her back door.

911 call:
Sandra: “Cops!”
Police: “Get down, get down!”
Dispatch: “Ma'am, can you put the gun down for me please?”
Sandra: “It's down.”
Dispatch: “Great, great, ok!”

If you'd like to listen to Sandra's 911 call in its entirety, we have a link at the top of this story.

Sandra is a mother of three and has several grandchildren.

She's set to have a procedure on her heart this week. As you can imagine, this whole situation has caused the 70-year-old a lot of stress.

She says she hopes others can learn from her story and think about protecting themselves. She’s hoping to have a neighborhood meeting in her area to discuss safety in homes.


A man is in custody Sunday night after police say he tried to break into a home on St. Joseph County's northwest side.

It happened in the 51000-block of Portage near Brick Road.

Police say 28-year-old Cyrus Brown drove off the road and hit a utility pole on Portage. He then attempted to break into a nearby home.

When police arrived, they found an elderly female named Sandra holding the driver at gunpoint, awaiting their arrival. Sandra tells us she was scared to death and yelled at Brown to stay down. She says he begged her not to shoot.

"I would give her thumbs up and tell her to keep up the great work and I'm really proud of her," Lanore Evins, Sandra's neighbor, says. "He probably didn't want anyone to know that happened to him. That's probably a little embarrassing for him."

"He was a little combative at first," explains Sgt. Bill Redman, St. Joseph County Sheriff Department. "The officers had to wrestle with him to get him to comply with their orders. He didn't mess with the homeowner though."

Sandra is in the hospital with heart problems she says stemmed from the incident. She says her doctors say the situation caused too much pressure for her. But Sandra hopes her story inspires others to stand up for themselves.

"Doesn't surprise me about any of us around here. We all fight what's ours," says Phyllis Barkley, Sandra's good friend. "Don't mess with the gray haired people! We still got a lot of fight in us."

My biggest disappointment was that it took so long for the dispatcher to tell the officers where the break-in occurred. Then it took what seemed like a life time for the police to arrive. The audio tape gives you an idea how incredibly long it can take the police to arrive.

Thanks to David Shipman for the link.


The Stone Age Diet

A friend of mine and an economist who I have admired since I was a graduate student has been getting a lot of attention for his work on diet. His name is Art DeVany. It is pretty amazing that an economist would have something to say about diet, but here is a clip of an extremely popular show in Britain discussing Art's arguments.


A $175 Global Warming tax per Dairy Cow?

Jeff Poor has the story here:

Indirectly it could be considered a cheeseburger tax, but one of the suggestions offered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in its Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) for regulating greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act is to levy a tax on livestock.

The ANPR, released early this year, would give the EPA the authority to regulate greenhouse gas for not only greenhouse gas from manmade sources like transportation and industry, but also “stationary” sources which would include livestock.

The New York Farm Bureau assigned a price tag to the cost of greenhouse gas regulation by the EPA in a release last month.

“The tax for dairy cows could be $175 per cow, and $87.50 per head of beef cattle. The tax on hogs would upwards of $20 per hog,” the release said. “Any operation with more than 25 dairy cows, 50 beef cattle or 200 hogs would have to obtain permits.”

Kate Galbraith, correspondent for The New York Times, noted on the Times’ “Green Inc.” blog that such a “proposal is far from being enacted” and that the “hysteria may be premature.”

But Rick Krause, senior director of congressional relations for the American Farm Bureau, warned it’s certainly feasible – especially based on the rhetoric of President-elect Barack Obama and the use of the EPA to combat global warming. Such action by an Obama administration would take an act of Congress for livestock to be exempt. . . .

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Andrew Breitbart's Big New Project: Big Hollywood

Fox News has the story here:

A once-timid group of social outcasts is emerging from the shadows in Hollywood. If the past year is any indication, Tinseltown may have to get accustomed to the loud presence of a growing minority.

After years of silence, conservatives are coming out of the closet.

Andrew Breitbart, the conservative founder of Breitbart.com and author of "Hollywood Interrupted: Insanity Chic in Babylon," is launching a Web site he hopes will help challenge the status quo in what he believes has been a one-party, left-tilting town. Set to debut on Jan. 6, "Big Hollywood" will be a place where center, right and libertarian-leaning celebrities and industry-insiders can weigh in on Hollywood politics, offer film, television and movie reviews, and have an open forum for political discussion.

"Our goal," says Breitbart, who lives in Los Angeles, "is to create an atmosphere of tolerance — something that does not exist in this town."

Breitbart has invited a number of conservative politicians, commentators and journalists to write regularly about the cult of celebrity, liberalism in popular culture, and politics. Among the names who will be contributing, he says, are Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va), political commentator Tucker Carlson, and former Tennessee Senator and Republican presidential contender Fred Thompson. . . . .

Its been rumored that Robert Downey Jr. Robert Downey Jr. is a closet Republican.
Actor Dennis Hopper is a conservative.
Actor Kelsey Grammer is a conservative.
Actor Gary Sinise is an out-of-the-closet conservative.
Actor Stephen Baldwin is conservative.
Actress Patricia Heaton is a conservative.

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How to teach economics

I think that most professors just find it much easier to teach technical material. It is pretty mindless and mechanical. The Chronicle has the story here:

The undergraduate major in economics is generally healthy, but it would be stronger if faculty members had better skills in presenting the discipline to the vast majority of their students who do not want to become academic economists. That is the verdict of a draft report to be discussed here Saturday during the annual meeting of the American Economic Association.

The report was drafted by David C. Colander, a professor of economics at Middlebury College, and KimMarie McGoldrick, a professor of economics at the University of Richmond. It is one of a series of reports supported by the Teagle Foundation in an effort to promote “fresh thinking” about various undergraduate majors.

The good news, according to Mr. Colander and Ms. McGoldrick, is that most undergraduate economics departments continue to offer a broad education that speaks to students who might pursue business, public policy, or academic careers. A new national survey has found that a large majority of economics majors are satisfied with their programs.

But the authors fear that as doctoral education in economics becomes more technical and abstract — a trend Mr. Colander has criticized elsewhere — new faculty members are badly prepared to teach economics to undergraduate students with diverse interests. . . .

Personally, I am not as optimistic as Colander and McGoldrick are about the current state of the field. I have had two sons studying economics in college and their intermediate economics classes are mindless mechanical minimization and maximization problems.


So will the mainstream media mention this?: Congressional Dems apparently won't allow Republicans to offer alternative legislation

The story is here:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to re-write House rules today to ensure that the Republican minority is unable to have any influence on legislation. Pelosi’s proposals are so draconian, and will so polarize the Capitol, that any thought President-elect Obama has of bipartisan cooperation will be rendered impossible before he even takes office.

Pelosi’s rule changes -- which may be voted on today -- will reverse the fairness rules that were written around Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America.”

In reaction, the House Republican leadership is sending a letter today to Pelosi to object to changes to House Rules this week that would bar Republicans from offering alternative bills, amendments to Democrat bills or even the guarantee of open debate accessible by motions to recommit for any piece of legislation during the entire 111th Congress. . . .

So far searching Google News using ("fairness rules" Republicans offering alternative bills) produced just the above one story.

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Senator Harry Reid's original statement on the war in Iraq being lost and his interview today on Meet the Press


Crashing Music Sales

Theft of intellectual property has gotten completely out of control in the music business. This story in the WSJ has an amazing chart showing that album sales have gone down from around 800 million in 2000 to somewhat over 400 million in 2008. I don't know whether there is some bias here breaking these down in terms of albums and not individual songs. The drop since 2000 has been almost continuous. It is hard to believe that illegal downloading isn't responsible for at least a good share of this drop.