Australia to fine citizens who didn't vote in Saturday's election
The commission will issue a notice to all non-voters requesting that they either provide a reason for their failure to vote or pay penalties.
Australia's compulsory voting system requires citizens show up at their polling stations on Election Day. Around 14 million electors took part in a mandatory vote in the pacific nation on Saturday.
The commission says if apparent non-voter cannot provide a valid reason within three weeks, then legally they are obliged to pay a 20-dollar fine.
Prosecution proceedings may be instigated against those violators who decline to pay the penalty.
If the matter is dealt with in court and the person is found guilty, they may be fined up to $50 plus court expenses.
However, penalties for failing to vote are not always strictly enforced.
This is while early vote counting in Australia suggests that the country could be heading for a hung parliament in one of the most closely contested general elections in years. . . .
Radio interview about third edition of More Guns, Less Crime
Republican National Committee has just over $5 million in the bank and $2 million in debt
The troubled Republican National Committee has just over $5 million in the bank for the final stretch of the 2010 mid-term election campaign, according to an unannounced filing with the FEC disclosed Friday night.
The report also indicates that the national party headed by embattled chairman Michael Steele is carrying just over $2 million in debt.
There was no press release from the RNC attempting to put a positive spin on the grim numbers. Rather, officials from the Democratic National Committee flagged the RNC's report, which was posted on the Federal Election Commission’s website Friday night.
It indicated that the committee brought in slightly more than $5.5 million in July — less than half of what the DNC raised — while spending $11 million. . . .
The one piece of good news is that Haley Barber, who heads the Republican Governor Association, " about $40 million to spend on the fall elections, significantly more than its Democratic counterpart."
Three Things About Islam You Might not Know
I knew two of these three points (the second and third ones).
Even judges use guns for self-defense
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Officials in Richmond County say a man who was shot after a break-in at the home of Superior Court Judge Carlisle Overstreet has died at the Medical College of Georgia Hospital.
Richmond County sheriff's Capt. Scott Peebles said Overstreet shot one of two men who broke into his home early Friday.
Chief Deputy Coroner Mark Bowen says 20-year-old John E. Howard Jr. died about an hour after he was shot.
The judge told police he heard a noise, got up and discovered two men in his home. He says he pulled out a gun and fired a shot.
Richmond County deputies are still searching for a second person involved in the break-in.
Democrats abandoning claims that Obamacare will reduce costs and deficit
"It is critical to reassure seniors that Medicare will not be cut."
"Let them know they can keep the coverage they have now."
Finally, this concession:
"Strategic Recommendations: The 'Do Nots' . . .
Don't say the law will reduce costs and deficit."
From the Politico:
Key White House allies are dramatically shifting their attempts to defend health care legislation, abandoning claims that it will reduce costs and deficit, and instead stressing a promise to "improve it."
The messaging shift was circulated this afternoon on a conference call and PowerPoint presentation organized by FamiliesUSA — one of the central groups in the push for the initial legislation. The call was led by a staffer for the Herndon Alliance, which includes leading labor groups and other health care allies. It was based on polling from three top Democratic pollsters, John Anzalone, Celinda Lake, and Stan Greenberg. . . .
From the Washington Times: "Obamacare's message of change: Health care law's deficit-fighting powers prove imaginary"
Obama spends $2 million in Taxpayer dollars to raise about $4.5 million for Democrats
New York Times blames alcohol for article mistakes
But it's especially painful when the slip-ups involve the highly read and heavily scrutinized White House pool reports.
The New York Times's Helene Cooper had her goof Wednesday night when she misidentified Sen. Bill Nelson in a report from President Obama's Miami fundraiser, calling him Sen. Ben Nelson. She also said that POTUS was the one with the wrong name, not her.
She quickly corrected the goof in an e-mail featuring the subject, "Ack! Pool correx."
"Turns out potus was right and pool was wrong," wrote Cooper. "Its bill nelson not ben. Blame the mojitos. Please disregard all refs to ben."
A little drinking on the job? An earlier pool report from Cooper on Wednesday evening declared, "your pool is awaiting their mojitos at the Fountainebleu" (aka Fontainebleau).
Is the Iman for the Ground Zero Mosque Moderate?
ED BRADLEY, CBS: (Voiceover) And throughout the Muslim world, there is also strong opposition to America's foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East because of its support of Israel and economic sanctions against Iraq.
Imam ABDUL RAUF: It is a reaction against the policies of the US government, politically, where we espouse principles of democracy and human rights and where we ally ourselves with oppressive regimes in many of these countries.
BRADLEY: Are--are--are you in any way suggesting that we in the United States deserved what happened?
Imam ABDUL RAUF: I wouldn't say that the United States deserved what happened, but the United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened.
BRADLEY: OK. You say that we're an accessory?
Imam ABDUL RAUF: Yes.
Imam ABDUL RAUF: Because we have been an accessory to a lot of--of innocent lives dying in the world. In fact, it--in the most direct sense, Osama bin Laden is made in the USA. . . .
"82% Say Voters Should Be Required to Show Photo ID"
An overwhelming majority of Likely Voters in the United States think all voters in the country should be required to present photo identification in order to vote in U.S. elections.
A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters finds that just 14% disagree and think the current identification system is sufficient. Just 4% are undecided on the issue. . . .
Two bartenders apparently committed "terrorist" type acts
Fire-breathing bartenders arrested, face 45 years
By: SCOTT MCCABE
Examiner Staff Writer
August 17, 2010
Two fire-breathing bartenders face up to 45 years in prison each for performing flaming bar tricks.
Jimmy's Old Town Tavern owner Jimmy Cirrito said his bartenders have been entertaining his customers -- by juggling bottles of alcohol and spitting out streams of flames using matchbooks and lighters -- for more than a decade and no one's complained. But shortly after midnight on July 24, two of his longtime employees were hauled out of the Herndon bar in handcuffs and charged with three felonies each plus other misdemeanors
"They were being treated as if they were terrorists, charged as if they intentionally tried to burn down the tavern," Cirrito said.
Fairfax County fire investigators charged Tegee Rogers, 33, of Herndon, and Justin Fedorchak, 39, of Manassas, with manufacturing an explosive device, setting a fire capable of spreading, and burning or destroying a meeting house. They also were charged with several state fire code misdemeanors. . . .
Blagojevich prosecutors may have some trouble in a retrial
In the end, the jurors convicted Mr. Blagojevich, a Democrat elected to two terms as governor, on one charge of giving a false statement to federal agents, but reached a conclusion that is rare in criminal cases: that they could not agree on the 23 other counts, including the most serious ones. . . .
The margins ranged vastly and changed as the talks went on. Sometimes, he said, the vote was 7 to 5, then 5 to 7, then 9 to 3.
Some are saying that the timing of GM's IPO is political
But some are questioning whether the IPO's timetable may have more to do with the political calendar than maximizing taxpayers' investment.
"There is obviously a political aspect to the timing," Jeremy Anwyl, CEO of Edmunds.com, told AFP.
Although GM has posted two quarters of solid growth the future remains uncertain, which could lead investors to pay less for shares than they might in one year's time, when GM's rebound might be more established.
The size of the sell-off, while headline grabing, also creates the risk of being under-subscribed, according to Anwyal. . . .
IBD has a similar view:
GM's rush to the IPO market before it posted a convincing series of profitable quarters raises questions about why it picked a time like this to issue new shares to the market.
After all, J.D. Power on Thursday just lowered its auto sales forecasts to 11.6 million units in 2010 and 13.2 million units in 2011, largely because it expects a slow economic recovery. Overseas markets are slowing, and GM profit is expected to be lower in the second half of 2010 than the first.
At a minimum, an IPO at this time of market volatility means GM will raise less capital than otherwise. Yet GM hopes eventually to raise up to $20 billion. Even if successful, that's far short of what taxpayers have put in. So why now? Only when you consider the upcoming November election does GM's puzzling timing make sense.
Government Motors, it seems, is still run by the government. Until that ends, GM won't be any more sustainable than in the past.
The truth is, both the carmaker and the Obama administration have taken heat from the public ever since Uncle Sam handed the automaker a $50 billion bailout in June 2009.
The cash gave the feds a 61% stake, and the White House used that stake to throw its weight around. The government meddled in GM personnel decisions, questionably ousting its CEO, Rick Wagoner.
It ordered up pricey new "green" cars to satisfy the Obama agenda, instead of what customers wanted. And it stiffed GM bondholders by giving priority to unsecured debt from union contracts, throwing 200 years of U.S. bankruptcy precedent out the window.
The car company is hanging in there. Its second-quarter earnings of $1.3 billion were the best since 2004. However, for the Obama White House the political price for its hamfisted intervention has been high. It now seeks to extricate itself from that. Hence, the IPO. . . .
Getting rid of collateral penalties for criminals
A blanket refusal to hire workers based on criminal records or credit problems can be illegal if it has a disparate impact on racial minorities, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The agency enforces the nation’s employment discrimination laws.
"Our sense is that the problem is snowballing because of the technology allowing these checks to be done with a fair amount of ease," said Carol Miaskoff, assistant legal counsel at the EEOC.
With millions of adult Americans having criminal records, from underage drinking to homicide, increasingly more job seekers are having a rough time finding work. And more companies are trying to screen out people with bankruptcies, court judgments or other credit problems just as those numbers have swollen during the recession. . . .
If criminal histories are taken into account, the EEOC says employers must also consider the nature of the job, the seriousness of the offense and how long ago it occurred. For example, it may make sense to disqualify a bank employee with a past conviction for embezzlement, but not necessarily for drunken driving.
Most companies tend to be more nuanced when they look at credit reports, weeding out those applicants with bad credit only if they seek senior positions or jobs dealing with money. But if the screening process weeds out more black and Hispanic applicants than whites, an employer needs to show how the credit information is related to the job.
About 73 percent of major employers report that they always check on applicants’ criminal records, while 19 percent do so for select job candidates, according to a 2010 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management. . . .
This is part of a larger process to reduce the penalties for criminals.
Former felons and their advocates are becoming increasingly assertive in the national debate about crime, claiming that they are being discriminated against not just in matters of voting but also employment and housing.
A movement called "Ban the Box" is urging lawmakers in the District of Columbia and elsewhere to limit or bar the "have you ever been convicted of a crime" question so that ex-felons' applications for jobs, housing and the like aren't rejected out of hand. They point out that "the box" makes it difficult for even well-intentioned ex-criminals to re-establish and integrate themselves into the social mainstream. . . .
Book Review by my son Roger on the over criminalization of society
New NRSC ad responding to Democrats claims that Republicans are Extremists
People will have to change names to escape 'cyber past' warns Google's Eric Schmidt
Mr. Schmidt is surely right, though, that the questions go far beyond Google. "I don't believe society understands what happens when everything is available, knowable and recorded by everyone all the time," he says. He predicts, apparently seriously, that every young person one day will be entitled automatically to change his or her name on reaching adulthood in order to disown youthful hijinks stored on their friends' social media sites.
"I mean we really have to think about these things as a society," he adds. "I'm not even talking about the really terrible stuff, terrorism and access to evil things," he says. . . .
Obama attacks Republicans for being in the pocket of business
President Barack Obama painted Republicans as obstructionist allies of corporate America on Monday as he crossed the United States campaigning for his fellow Democrats fighting to keep control of the Congress and for state governorships in November's elections.
At a battery plant in Wisconsin Obama sought to convince voters he can ease high unemployment and has a plan to fix a slowing economy in which fears have grown of a double-dip recession.
He accused Republicans of trying to turn back the clock by resisting his administration's efforts to bolster the sagging economy.
"They said 'no' to small business tax cuts, 'no' to rebuilding infrastructure, 'no' to clean energy projects. They even voted against getting rid of tax breaks for shipping jobs overseas," Obama said. . . .
Is Obama administration blocking import of surplus rifles?
"The U.S. government opposed South Korea’s bid to sell hundreds of thousands of aging U.S. combat rifles to American gun collectors," Jung Sung-ki of The Korea Times reports.
"The ministry announced the plan last September as part of efforts to boost its defense budget, saying the export of the M1 Garand and carbine rifles would start by the end of 2009."
So why didn't they?
"The U.S. administration put the brakes on the plan, citing “problems” that could be caused by the importation of the rifles."
Problems? What problems?
"The problems the U.S. government cited were somewhat ambiguous, said an official at the Ministry of National Defense on condition of anonymity."
Oh, in other words, made up problems. The administration came up with baseless excuses about aging rifles that "could cause problems such as firearm accidents." . . .
The original article is here.
Government moves to ration cancer care for women
A decision to rescind endorsement of the drug would reignite the highly charged debate over US health care reform and how much the state should spend on new and expensive treatments.
Avastin, the world’s best selling cancer drug, is primarily used to treat colon cancer and was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2008 for use on women with breast cancer that has spread.
It costs $8,000 (£5,000) a month and is given to about 17,500 women in the US a year. The drug was initially approved after a study found that, by preventing blood flow to tumours, it extended the amount of time until the disease worsened by more than five months. However, two new studies have shown that the drug may not even extend life by an extra month.
The FDA advisory panel has now voted 12-1 to drop the endorsement for breast cancer treatment. The panel unusually cited "effectiveness" grounds for the decision. But it has been claimed that "cost effectiveness" was the real reason ahead of reforms in which the government will extend health insurance to the poorest.
If the approval of the drug is revoked then US insurers would be likely to stop paying for Avastin.
The Avastin recommendation led to revived allegations that President Barack Obama’s overhaul of the US health care system would mean many would be denied treatments currently available.
UPDATE: From the WSJ:
Remember, too, that these are only averages over a narrow population, while individual patients respond in dramatically different ways. That includes prolonging survival, which Avastin does in some situations. The median overall survival benefit for one subgroup of 496 patients between the ages of 40 and 64 was an additional 5.7 months of life. Some individuals gain years. At any rate, even the 31% reduction in the risk of disease progression or death is better than the status quo.
Such quantifiable progress, moreover, was the "endpoint" that Avastin had been required to hit. In February 2009, the FDA confirmed that the drug would be approved if it showed "demonstrated improvement in progression-free survival and evidence that survival is not impaired," according to the agency's minutes.
The FDA later unilaterally redefined its regulatory expectations, devising a pretext to undermine Avastin. The terms of ODAC debate are set by instructions from FDA staff reviewers, and in round two they suddenly emphasized topics that had been resolved in round one, such as the lack of overall survival benefits and safety issues such as toxic side effects. . . .
The Avastin mugging is really an attempt to undermine regulatory modernization like accelerated approval that offends the FDA's institutional culture of control and delay. It is also meant to discourage innovations like Avastin that the political and medical left has decided are too costly, with damaging implications for the next generation of cancer drugs.
Investigations at the frontiers of genomic science have only begun, and the learning curve for how subsets of patients respond to biologics, and how to target them, is steep. Yet the world's oncologists agree that the future of their science lies in patient-specific, biologic treatments. Cancer survival rates have improved gradually over the last several decades, thanks in part to improvements at the margin like Avastin. . . .
So where are all the Hurricanes?
Colorado State University
Named Storms 15
But so far of the five storms, only one has had winds above 75 miles per hour (Alex).
How Democrats are using Government funds to convince voters to support their agenda
What Democrats are planning on doing on redistricting
Here are the 18 seats that the Left is spending the most money on trying to hold this election
These 18 Congressmen have been identified by the very left wing Agenda Project as the most important seats to defend this November. From the Agenda Project's perspective, these 18 politicians have a perfect "progressive" voting record. I have also included the Real Clear Politics ranking for how competitive the seat is (TU is toss up, LR is lean Republican, LD is lean Democrat). Just as left wingers think that these are the most important states to win, those concerned about reduced government spending and centralized government power will probably want to win.
Appearing on Point of View Radio Talk Show tomorrow
Obama twisting in the wind with his every changing statements on the Ground Zero mosque
When President Obama used the occasion of the White House Ramadan iftar dinner to announce his support for the Ground Zero mosque, some of his partisans rushed to praise what they viewed as a ringing endorsement of the controversial project.
"Obama's forceful speech yesterday expressing strong support for Cordoba House…will go down as one of the finest moments of his presidency," wrote Washington Post reporter Greg Sargent. Obama, Sargent said, "isn't hedging a bit: He's saying that opposing the group's right to build the Islamic center is, in essence, un-American."
"CAP Supports Building of Mosque Near Ground Zero," was the headline of a press release from the liberal think tank Center for American Progress. "President Obama is upholding the best traditions of our Constitution in supporting the right of Muslim Americans to build a mosque and community center on private property near Ground Zero."
"I applaud President Obama's clarion defense of the freedom of religion," said New York mayor and mosque supporter Michael Bloomberg. "As I said last week, this proposed mosque and community center in Lower Manhattan is as important a test of the separation of church and state as we may see in our lifetime."
The problem was, just hours after the speech, Obama began to back away from his clarion call. . . .
Did Obama pull a fast one in claiming that he went swimming in the Gulf of Mexico
President Barack Obama wanted to convince America that the Gulf of Mexico remains open for business. But perhaps he didn't want the world to catch another glimpse of his hairless chest.
So when he and his daughter, Sasha, took a dip in the sea off Florida this weekend, only the White House photographer was allowed to capture proceedings.
The official picture was intended to provide evidence that the region's beaches are back to normal. Yet it soon emerged that the private beach on which it was taken, off Alligator Point in St Andrew Bay, north-west Florida, isn't technically in the gulf. . . .
Democrats keep cutting food stamps because they have no place else to cut in an almost $4 trillion budget
Democrats who reluctantly slashed a food stamp program to fund a state aid bill may have to do so again to pay for a top priority of first lady Michelle Obama.
The House will soon consider an $8 billion child nutrition bill that’s at the center of the first lady’s “Let’s Move” initiative. Before leaving for the summer recess, the Senate passed a smaller version of the legislation that is paid for by trimming the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps.
The proposed cuts would come on top of a 13.6 percent food stamp reduction in the $26 billion Medicaid and education state funding bill that President Obama signed this week.
Food stamps have made multiple appearances on the fiscal chopping block because Democrats have few other places to turn to offset the cost of legislation.
Party leaders raided the budget to find off-setting tax increases and spending cuts to pay for their top legislative priorities, including the roughly $900 billion healthcare law. Congressional pay-as-you-go rules require lawmakers to offset all non-emergency spending.
Democrats have turned to the food stamp program because funding increases enacted in the stimulus package last year were already scheduled to phase out over time. The changes proposed in the state aid and nutrition bills would simply cut off that increase early, in March 2014. Because the cuts would not take effect for more than three years, Democratic leaders have voiced the hope that they will be able to stop them in future legislation.
But House liberals are balking now, saying that while they swallowed the food stamp cuts to pay for urgent funding for Medicaid and teachers, they will not vote for more cuts in the child nutrition bill. In a letter sent this week to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), 106 House Democrats urged the speaker to take the House version of the child nutrition bill, which does not slash food stamps, rather than the Senate version. . . .
An article on the claimed benefits from drug legalization in Portugal
Ten years ago, Portugal had some 100,000 heroin addicts -- about 1 percent of its entire population. HIV infections from injecting drugs were among the highest in Europe.
Now the addict count has been cut nearly in half. HIV infections from drug use have fallen more than 90 percent. And the policy shift responsible for such a dramatic improvement in Portuguese life is something U.S. lawmakers -- watching an escalating drug war on their southern border -- might consider worthy of some attention: decriminalization.
Ten years ago this summer, Portugal became the first country in Europe to decriminalize all illegal drugs -- marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and even heroin. Hefty fines and prison sentences still await drug traffickers and dealers, but users caught with less than a 10-day supply of any drug are no longer considered criminals. Instead, they're referred to a panel comprised of a drug-treatment specialist, a lawyer and a civil servant, who usually recommend treatment -- and pay for it, too. If the users decline treatment and go back to abusing drugs, that's their prerogative.
But statistics show they're not doing that. Instead, about 45 percent of the 100,000 heroin addicts Portugal's Health Ministry recorded in 2000 had by 2008 decided to at least try to quit the habit, without the threat of jail time. And the number of new HIV cases among users fell from 2,508 in the year 2000 to 220 cases in 2008, Alun Jones, a spokesman for the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, told AOL News. "This was a major success," he said. . . .
I am also not sure how legalizing drugs in Mexico would stop the drug cartels because the cartels are formed to get drugs into the US. Now legalizing drugs in the US would have a big impact, but that is not what is being advocated here.
Last week, former Mexican President Vicente Fox criticized his country's military-led, U.S.-backed war on drugs, which has left more than 28,000 people dead since December 2006. Instead, Fox said Mexico should consider legalizing the production, distribution and sale of drugs. . . .
Felons organizing to vote as a blockin DC
Former D.C. felons are taking matters into their hands.
Some laws and policies are discriminating against them, and they are not going to lie down and take it anymore.
That was the message Thursday evening at Wilson’s Restaurant in center city, where about 75 ex-offenders braved a thunderstorm to register to vote and plan how to effectively speak with one voice at the polls and in city hall.
These men and women comprise a substantial voting bloc in D.C. and feel empowered by their turnout in the presidential election of Barack Obama. In D.C., an estimated 16,000 people are under the supervision of the federal Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA), and with the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics having already purged more than 90,000 names off its voter rolls, former offenders aren’t taking any chances.
Their get-out-the-vote effort drew D.C. Councilman Jim Graham, a Democrat who is trying to hold onto his seat; sports newsman Glenn Harris; and boxing impresario Rock Newman, whose white Rolls Royce drew in supporters --and the merely curious -- alike. . . .
Washington Post piece on lawsuit over denial of ability to carry a gun in Maryland
On a snowy Christmas Eve a few years ago, Raymond E. Woollard was watching television with his family when he heard someone tapping at the windows of his Baltimore County farmhouse.
It was not Santa.
At the sound of breaking glass, Woollard dashed to his bedroom for a shotgun, and the holiday evening quickly became one of the most frightening nights of his life.
There was a hand-to-hand struggle for the weapon, but Woollard, with help from his adult son, eventually subdued the 6-foot-2, 155-pound intruder at gunpoint. Then they waited for more than an hour for police to find their way, on icy back roads, to the home, about 25 miles south of the Pennsylvania border.
That night made Woollard a crime victim for the first time in his life and also one of a select few Maryland residents to receive a license to carry a concealed handgun. But to Woollard's surprise, Maryland State Police denied his request last year to renew the permit, saying they thought the danger to his life had passed.
The agency said it was "because I hadn't been attacked" again, Woollard said in an interview. "They said, 'If you have any problems, you let us know.' "
Instead, Woollard filed a federal lawsuit July 29 to get his permit back, becoming the first person to challenge Maryland's gun control laws in the wake of two landmark Supreme Court decisions that have recalibrated the battle over gun rights and opened the doors to such challenges nationwide. The first, District of Columbia v. Heller, recognized individuals' Second Amendment right to own firearms and struck down the federal city's 32-year-old ban on handguns; the second, McDonald v. Chicago, held that the right also applies to other state and local governments.
Woollard, 62, of the Hampstead area, contends that the right to bear a firearm for self-defense is so paramount that a state agency should not be able to arbitrarily deny it. . . .