Union members will be exempt from paying a tax that everyone else will have to pay

This is pretty outrageous:

June 26 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Senate proposal to impose taxes for the first time on “gold-plated” health plans may bypass generous employee benefits negotiated by unions.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, the chief congressional advocate of taxing some employer-provided benefits to help pay for an overhaul of the U.S. health system, says any change should exempt perks secured in existing collective- bargaining agreements, which can be in place for as long as five years.

The exception, which could make the proposal more politically palatable to Democrats from heavily unionized states such as Michigan, is adding controversy to an already contentious debate. It would shield the 12.4 percent of American workers who belong to unions from being taxed while exposing some other middle-income workers to the levy.

“I can’t think of any other aspect of the individual income tax that treats benefits of different people differently because of who they work for,” said Chris Edwards, director of tax policy studies at the Cato Institute, a Washington research group that often criticizes Democrats’ economic proposals. Edwards said the carve-out “smacks of political favoritism.” . . .

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Here is a breakdown of where the economy was shrinking, and growing, most during the first quarter of the year. The easiest comparisons are to see what is looking better or worse than the average. The most surprising changes to me is that personal consumption, durable goods, and services were all increasing during the quarter. On the other hand, private investment disappeared.

Gross Domestic Product: -5.5%
Personal Consumption: +1.4%
Durable Goods: +9.5%
Nondurable Goods: -0.4%
Services: +0.9%
Private Investment: -48.9%
Net Exports:
Exports: -30.6%
Imports: -36.4%
Government Consumption: -3.1%
Federal: -4.5%
State & Local: -2.2%

I did find this other story interesting, that the unemployment claims were from teachers right after the school year ended. Does this mean that they will be getting off the unemployment rolls when school starts up in the fall? If so, it indicates that a lot of teachers use summer jobs to supplement their incomes. It indicates that the annual salary for teachers is more than what pay them during the school year.

The Labor Department on Thursday said initial claims for jobless benefits rose last week by 15,000 to a seasonally adjusted 627,000. Economists expected a drop to 600,000, according to Thomson Reuters. Several states reported more claims than expected from teachers, cafeteria workers and other school employees, a department analyst said. . . .


Push for one-gun-a-month rule in New Jersey

I assume that the Democrats in New Jersey are pushing gun control to try distracting people from the mess that they have made of so many other things. Scott Bach has this post:

No matter that they may have already waited 6 months for purchase permits. No matter that the sales are registered with State and local law enforcement, so we'd know in a heartbeat if there were any truth to the phony claim that handguns purchased in legal, government-monitored multiple sales from New Jersey dealers are illegally trafficked or used in crime by their purchasers. . . . .

The claim by supporters of S1774 that State-certified law abiding New Jerseyans are magically transformed into violent criminals and illegal gun traffickers when they buy more than one handgun on the same day (after waiting months for permits) has been thoroughly discredited. These claims are based on deceptive parsing of statistics and disingenuous use of misunderstood ATF nomenclature, to falsely characterize guns recovered from house fires, floods, natural disasters, estates, and gun buybacks as "crime guns."

The only publicly available ATF statistics show, irrefutably, that less than one half of one percent of guns traced by ATF originated as New Jersey multiple handgun sales, which also means that more than 99% of traces originated as individual (not multiple) sales. There simply is no evidence that licensed multiple sales in New Jersey are trafficked or used in crime by their purchasers, and objective evidence demonstrates precisely the opposite. . . . . .

I would just point out that I don't know of any academic research by economists or criminologists showing that one-gun-a-month rules reduce violent crime rates.


The names of the eight Republicans who voted for the cap & trade bill in the House last night

Here are the names of the eight Republicans.

1- Mary Bono Mack (CA)
2 - Mike Castle (DE)
3 - Mark Kirk (IL)
4 - Leonard Lance (NJ)
5 - Frank Lobiondo (NJ)
6 - John McHugh (NY)
7 - Dave Reichert (WA)
8 - Chris Smith (NJ)

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"GOP to press Sotomayor on gun rights"

From the LA Times:

Republicans say they will question the Supreme Court nominee on the divisive issue at her confirmation hearings in hopes of weakening her support among moderate Democrats.

Reporting from Washington — Senate Republicans said Wednesday they would press Judge Sonia Sotomayor on gun rights, a politically divisive issue that they hope could weaken Democratic support for the Supreme Court nominee.

Though Republicans are a pronounced minority in both the House and Senate, they have used the gun issue to their advantage to divert the legislative agenda, forcing Democrats from moderate and conservative states to take politically risky votes on gun provisions.

Sotomayor's judicial record appears to provide the GOP with another opportunity to bring the issue to light. Since the Supreme Court decided in a landmark case last year that restrictive laws in Washington, D.C. -- a federal entity -- infringed on a constitutionally protected right to own a handgun, the debate has shifted to whether that ruling also affected handgun control laws in individual states.

This year, Sotomayor was part of a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York that held the 2nd Amendment did not apply to the states. At a news conference Wednesday, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and other senators said they were concerned about the decision and pledged to grill Sotomayor about it at her confirmation hearings, which begin July 13.

The panel's reasoning, Sessions said, "would eviscerate the 2nd Amendment in many parts of the country." . . . .

The WSJ has this:

Senate Republicans took aim Wednesday at Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s views on gun rights, saying that as a federal appeals court judge in New York, she had dismissed the right to bear arms as not “fundamental” and complaining that she had ruled that only the federal government, not the states, can enforce the Second Amendment. . . . .

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Fox News on track for record number of viewers

Well, at least some people are concerned about what is going on in Washington DC.

Fox News is on track to have its most-watched year ever, showing significant ratings growth despite having just come off a highflying election year.

With the second quarter coming to a close, Fox News averaged about the same number of viewers as the top three other cable news networks combined. And while rivals including CNN (down 22 percent) and MSNBC (down 18 percent) took hits following last quarter's inauguration-fueled boost, Fox News (down 3 percent) remained nearly steady.

Compared with last year, the Fox News (averaging 2.1 million viewers, 509,000 adults aged 25-54 quarter-to-date) is up both 35 percent over last year in primetime viewers and 48 percent in the demo. CNN (805,000 viewers, 210,000 in the demo) fell both 16 percent in viewers and 29 percent in the demo. MSNBC (787,000 viewers, 259,000 in the demo) climbed 15 percent in viewers and was about on par in the demo. And CNN Headline News (553,000, 201,000) showed very strong growth, up 39 percent and 37 percent, respectively, and is on track for its best second quarter.

The new standings are strong enough to rank Fox News third behind USA and TNT among all ad-supported cable networks for the quarter among primetime total viewers. In its core demo, Fox News had eight of the top 10 cable news shows. It had similarly sunny increases for total day, while CNN and MSNBC were roughly on par with last year. . . . .

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Obama doesn't plan on having the health care program apply to himself and his family

ABC has this on Obama's presentation last night from the so-called "news" special.

President Obama struggled to explain today whether his health care reform proposals would force normal Americans to make sacrifices that wealthier, more powerful people -- like the president himself -- wouldn't face.

The probing questions came from two skeptical neurologists during ABC News' special on health care reform, "Questions for the President: Prescription for America," anchored from the White House by Diane Sawyer and Charles Gibson.

Dr. Orrin Devinsky, a neurologist and researcher at the New York University Langone Medical Center, said that elites often propose health care solutions that limit options for the general public, secure in the knowledge that if they or their loves ones get sick, they will be able to afford the best care available, even if it's not provided by insurance.

Devinsky asked the president pointedly if he would be willing to promise that he wouldn't seek such extraordinary help for his wife or daughters if they became sick and the public plan he's proposing limited the tests or treatment they can get.

The president refused to make such a pledge, though he allowed that if "it's my family member, if it's my wife, if it's my children, if it's my grandmother, I always want them to get the very best care. . . . .

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Government money at work

A few notes about Cap & Trade

The CBO estimates on the cost of Cap & Trade are nuts. Here are are few posts that might be helpful for the debate over the next few days. The WSJ has this:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has put cap-and-trade legislation on a forced march through the House, and the bill may get a full vote as early as Friday. It looks as if the Democrats will have to destroy the discipline of economics to get it done.

Despite House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman's many payoffs to Members, rural and Blue Dog Democrats remain wary of voting for a bill that will impose crushing costs on their home-district businesses and consumers. The leadership's solution to this problem is to simply claim the bill defies the laws of economics.

Their gambit got a boost this week, when the Congressional Budget Office did an analysis of what has come to be known as the Waxman-Markey bill. According to the CBO, the climate legislation would cost the average household only $175 a year by 2020. Edward Markey, Mr. Waxman's co-author, instantly set to crowing that the cost of upending the entire energy economy would be no more than a postage stamp a day for the average household. Amazing. A closer look at the CBO analysis finds that it contains so many caveats as to render it useless. . . .

From the Heritage Foundation.

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Barney Frank and Anthony Weiner want Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to relax mortgage lending rules

This is very depressing. Nothing seems to have been learned by these politicians.

Two U.S. Democratic lawmakers want Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to relax recently tightened standards for mortgages on new condominiums, saying they could threaten the viability of some developments and slow the housing-market recovery, the Wall Street Journal said.

In March, Fannie Mae said it would no longer guarantee mortgages on condos in buildings where fewer than 70 percent of the units have been sold, up from 51 percent, the paper said. Freddie Mac is due to implement similar policies next month, the paper said.

In a letter to the CEO's of both companies, Representatives Barney Frank, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and Anthony Weiner warned that a 70 percent sales threshold "may be too onerous" and could lead condo buyers to shun new developments, according to the paper. . . .

This is what I wrote about these types of regulations over a year ago.

The WSJ points this out:

Back when the housing mania was taking off, Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank famously said he wanted Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to "roll the dice" in the name of affordable housing. That didn't turn out so well, but Mr. Frank has since only accumulated more power. And now he is returning to the scene of the calamity -- with your money. He and New York Representative Anthony Weiner have sent a letter to the heads of Fannie and Freddie exhorting them to lower lending standards for condo buyers.

You read that right. After two years of telling us how lax lending standards drove up the market and led to loans that should never have been made, Mr. Frank wants Fannie and Freddie to take more risk in condo developments with high percentages of unsold units, high delinquency rates or high concentrations of ownership within the development. . . .

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CBO's estimates of the number "uninsured" and the costs of the Democrats health care reforms

This graph is from the WSJ here.

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The Most Dangerous Neighborhoods in the US

Here are the 25 most dangerous neighborhoods to live in among the states.

"Chicago has the dubious distinction of holding four places on a list of the 25 most dangerous neighborhoods in the nation."
Here is the list:
Cincinnati, Ohio (Central Pky./Liberty St.)
Chicago (State St./Garfield Blvd.)
Miami, Fla. (7th Ave./North River Dr.)
Jacksonville, Fla. (Beaver St./Broad St.)
Baltimore (North Ave./Belair Rd.)
Kansas City, Mo. (Bales Ave./30th St.)
Memphis, Tenn. (Warford St./Mount Olive Rd.)
Kansas City, Mo. (Forest Ave./41st St.)
Dallas, Texas (Route 352/Scyene Rd.)
Richmond, Va. (Church Hill)
Memphis, Tenn. (Bellevue Blvd./Lamar Ave.)
Dallas, Texas (2nd Ave./Hatcher St.)
Springfield, Ill. (Cook St./11th St.)
St. Louis (14th St./Dr. Martin Luther King Dr.)
Little Rock, Ark. (Roosevelt Rd./Bond St.)
Philadelphia (Broad St./Dauphin St.)
Tampa, Fla. (Amelia Ave./Tampa St.)
New York City (St. Nicholas Ave./125th St.)
Chicago (66th St./Yale Ave.)
Baltimore (Orleans St./Front St.)
Cleveland (Cedar Ave./55th St.)
Orlando, Fla. (East-West Expy/Orange Blossom Trl.)
Detroit (Mount Elliott St./Palmer Ave.)
Chicago (Wallace St./58th St.)
Chicago (Winchester, Ave./60th St.)


Why moving around a trillion plus dollars creates unemployment

When you move around a trillion dollars, you move around a lot of jobs. The point of this article in the WSJ is that people don't instantly move from one job to another.

LINCOLN, N.H. -- After seven months without a paycheck, Tim Ryan turned into a werewolf.

Laid off from a construction job, Mr. Ryan finally found work last month playing the wolfman at Clark's Trading Post, a tourist attraction in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. For $12 an hour, about half what he made before, he dons furry rags, a coonskin cap and an eye patch and jumps out of the woods when the Trading Post's steam train chugs by, snarling and growling at passengers.

The job is nearly two hours north of his home in Pittsfield, N.H., too far to commute. So Mr. Ryan sleeps in an old, mold-ridden cottage with no running water that someone lets him use free. "These days, you have to do things you never thought you would," says the 52-year-old. "You have to go to extremes."

With the unemployment rate at 9.4%, some Americans are willing to go wherever they can to nab a job, even if it is temporary. To adapt, they find living quarters near the job in campers or cheap apartments, giving up normal family life for a paycheck, in a contemporary echo of the itinerants who roamed the country for work in the Great Depression. . . . .

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New Fox News news article: As Obama Pushes National Health Care, Most Americans Already Happy With Coverage

My new Fox News news article starts this way:

As the Obama administration pushes for a national health care plan, studies show that most Americans are overwhelmingly happy with their own health care -- but they are dissatisfied with the country's overall system, because most Americans who have insurance believe that those who don't have it are not receiving care.

Those same studies, however, show that a surprisingly large 70 percent of the estimated 46 million Americans who don't have insurance say they do, in fact, receive health care, and that a vast majority of them are satisfied with it.

A survey conducted jointly by the Kaiser Family Foundation, ABC News and USA Today, released in October 2006, found that 89 percent of Americans were satisfied with their own personal medical care, but only 44 percent were satisfied with the overall quality of the American medical system. The survey is the only recent poll for which data is publicly available that allows for a comparison of the satisfaction of insured and uninsured Americans. (The data from a just-completed New York Times/CBS poll won't be publicly available for several months; the results that have been reported so far don't make the comparisons discussed in this article.)

Those with recent serious health problems, possibly the people with the best knowledge of how health care is working, were generally the most satisfied. Ninety-three percent of insured Americans who had recently suffered a serious illness were satisfied with their health care. So were 95 percent of those who suffered from chronic illness. . . .

"If the insured come to believe that the uninsured are not that dissatisfied with their health care, it is extremely important. It could throw a real wild card into the whole health care debate," Jack Calfee, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, told FOXNews.com. . . . . .

UPDATE: A new Washington Post/ABC News poll has virtually the same results as the basic estimates here.

15 a. a. The overall health care system in this country

------------- Satisfied ------- ------- Dissatisfied ---- No
. . . . . . . NET . . . Very . . . Somewhat . NET . Somewhat . Very . opinion

All . . . . . 43 . . . . 10 . . . . . . 32 . . . . . 57 . . . . . 26 . . . . . 31 . . . . . 1
All Cov . .45 . . . . 11 . . . . . . 34 . . . . . 54 . . . . . 28 . . . . . 26 . . . . . 1

15 b. The quality of the health care you receive

------------- Satisfied ------- ------- Dissatisfied ---- No
. . . . . . . NET . . . Very . . . Somewhat . NET . Somewhat . Very . opinion
All . . . . . 83 . . . . 49 . . . . . 34 . . . . . 16 . . . . . 9 . . . . . 7 . . . . . 1
All Cov. . 88 . . . . 53 . . . . . 35 . . . . . 12 . . . . . 7 . . . . . 4 . . . . . *

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Battle between the Chamber of Commerce and the EPA over Carbon Dioxide Rules

Everything is being rush through everywhere. Given how extensive the new EPA rules are, what is the problem with a 30 day extension for review of these new rules. What is the problem with giving people one more month for studying these complicated rules? From Politico:

Once finalized, the decision would require the EPA to force power plants, auto companies, manufacturers and other major industrial sources of greenhouse gas to cut their emissions under the Clean Air Act.

But the Chamber says that the finding was based on cherry-picked data and manipulated by agency officials.

“We are not denying that CO2 [emissions] are rising, ... [but] the EPA has to make the link between CO2 and health and welfare, and they haven’t made the link,” said William Kovacs, the Chamber’s senior vice president of environmental, technology and regulatory affairs. “There is no evidence that CO2 has an impact on health and welfare.” . . . .

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How Politicians run a Business

Thanks to Gus Cotey for this link.


ABC Offers Skeptical Take on Obama's Stimulus Claims



Gov. Tim Kaine defies Freedom of Information Act Request for travel records and information about who is footing the bill for his trips

From the Roanoke Times:

When Gov. Tim Kaine started moonlighting as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, he promised his night job would not hinder his day job in Richmond. He should prove it by releasing travel records and information about who is footing the bill for his trips.

Last week, the Virginia Republican Party filed a Freedom of Information Act request for those records.

The administration indicated it probably would deny the request, citing two reasons.

First, when it comes to taxpayer-funded security, officials claim that revealing details could endanger the governor.

Security concerns might be convincing if this were not the first time the administration has raised them regarding the governor's travel schedule. When he headed overseas on trade missions in the past, the governor's team trumpeted his itinerary in press releases.

The case for withholding his DNC travel records is legally stronger. When Kaine hits the road for the party, he is not acting as governor but as a private citizen. FOIA does not cover that. The DNC and its donors pay for the travel, not taxpayers.

Nevertheless, the governor has a duty to Virginians beyond just the letter of FOIA. The only way the public can verify that his moonlighting has not interfered with his gubernatorial responsibilities is if it knows where and when he traveled and on whose dime. If big Democratic donors who have business before state agencies have provided free flights, people ought to know. . . .

See also Hotline's article on this issue.


New York Times/CBS Health Care Poll June 12-16th

A recent New York Times/CBS Health Care Poll (June 12-16th) has gotten a lot of attention by the rest of the media as well as President Obama. At his press conference on Tuesday, even President Obama referenced a new New York Times/CBS survey showing that 77 percent of Americans “are satisfied with the health insurance that they currently have.” Unfortunately, the data won’t be available to others to make the comparisons provided in my own work for some months. The key result is: "Wide Support for Government-Run Health."

Well, the survey heavily over represents Obama supporters. While Obama got 52.9 percent of the vote and McCain got 45.6 percent in the 2008 general election, this survey implies that Obama beat McCain by about a 2-to-1 margin (see page 7):

In the 2008 presidential election, "did you vote for Barack Obama, John McCain, or someone else?"

Obama 48%
McCain 25%
Someone else 1%
Wouldn't say 5%
Didn't vote 19%

Page 9 reports:

Generally speaking, do you usually consider yourself a Republican, a Democrat, an Independent, or what?

Rep 24%
Dem 38%
Ind 31%
DK/NA 8%

My own view of this is that it greatly over samples Democrats and liberals. Possibly if they got only Obama supporters they could have gotten more support for higher taxes and government-run health care.

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Obama coordinates questions at press conference before hand

Here is the text of Obama's press conference.

MR. OBAMA: I think that the international community is, as I said before, bearing witness to what's taking place. And the Iranian government should understand that how they handle the dissent within their own country, generated indigenously, internally, from the Iranian people, will help shape the tone, not only for Iran's future, but also its relationship to other countries.

Since we're on Iran, I know Niko Pitney (ph) is here from the Huffington Post.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.

MR. OBAMA: Niko (ph), I know that you and all across the Internet, we've been seeing a lot of reports coming directly out of Iran. I know that there may actually be questions from people in Iran who are communicating through the Internet. Do you have a question?

QUESTION: Yes, I did, but I wanted to use this opportunity to ask you a question directly from an Iranian. We solicited questions on tonight from people who are still courageous enough to be communicating online. And one of them wanted to ask you this: Under which conditions would you accept the election of Ahmadinejad? And if you do accept it without any significant changes in the conditions there, isn't that a betrayal of -- of what the demonstrators there are working to achieve?

MR. OBAMA: Well, look, . . . .

Politico has noticed this also:

In what appeared to be a coordinated exchange, President Obama called on the Huffington Post's Nico Pitney near the start of his press conference and requested a question directly about Iran. . . . .

If President Bush has coordinated questions for a press conference, I suspect that many in the press would have been quite upset.

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Housing prices continue to fall, no bottom in sight, foreclosures keep rising

I have written many times about how the Obama administration's policies are hurting the housing market (and they have been doing it even before he became president). Bloomberg has this:

U.S. home prices fell 6.8 percent in April from a year earlier as rising unemployment and record foreclosures kept buyers out of the market.

Measured monthly, the average price fell 0.1 percent from March, the Federal Housing Finance Agency in Washington said today. The number was projected to drop 0.4 percent in April, according to the median forecast of 15 economists in a Bloomberg survey.

The housing slump has reduced the median price of an existing home 26 percent from the July 2006 peak, pushing affordability to near record levels. Prospective buyers are now being constrained by rising mortgage rates, the highest unemployment since 1983 and concern the housing rebound will be anemic.

While U.S. builders increased housing starts by 17 percent in May to an annual rate of 532,000, a May 26 report from S&P/Case-Shiller showed home prices in 20 U.S. metropolitan areas fell 18.7 percent in March from the same month last year.

All signs point to further declines. Yale University Professor Robert Shiller, co-founder of the S&P/Case-Shiller index, said earlier this month that prices will continue to fall, contributing to a prolonged recession. . . . .

U.S. foreclosure filings are forecast to hit a record 1.8 million in the first half of this year, according to RealtyTrac Inc., the Irvine, California-based seller of default data. Filings surpassed 300,000 for the third straight month in May, RealtyTrac said on June 11. . . . .

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Teacher unions try to take over charter schools

From the SF Chronicle:

As the Obama administration pushes for more charter schools, a teachers' union is pushing for a bigger role in them.

It's a new development for the charter school movement, a small but growing — and controversial — effort to create new, more autonomous public schools, usually in cities where traditional schools have failed.

On Tuesday in New York, the United Federation of Teachers expects to formalize a contract with teachers at Green Dot New York Charter School in the Bronx, a high school run by Green Dot, a nonprofit group that operates charter schools. Ten other New York charter schools are unionized.

And last week in Chicago, teachers voted to unionize three Chicago International Charter School campuses run by Civitas, a Chicago-based nonprofit organization. . . . .

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Nokia, Siemens Helped Iran Rig Networks for Government Control

The WSJ has this:

The Iranian regime has developed, with the assistance of European telecommunications companies, one of the world's most sophisticated mechanisms for controlling and censoring the Internet, allowing it to examine the content of individual online communications on a massive scale.

Interviews with technology experts in Iran and outside the country say Iranian efforts at monitoring Internet information go well beyond blocking access to Web sites or severing Internet connections.

The monitoring capability was provided, at least in part, by a joint venture of SiemensAG, the German conglomerate, and NokiaCorp., the Finnish cellphone company, in the second half of 2008, Ben Roome, a spokesman for the joint venture, confirmed.Instead, in confronting the political turmoil that has consumed the country this past week, the Iranian government appears to be engaging in a practice often called deep packet inspection, which enables authorities to not only block communication but to monitor it to gather information about individuals, as well as alter it for disinformation purposes, according to these experts.

The "monitoring center," installed within the government's telecom monopoly, was part of a larger contract with Iran that included mobile-phone networking technology, Mr. Roome said.

"If you sell networks, you also, intrinsically, sell the capability to intercept any communication that runs over them," said Mr. Roome. . . . .

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Welfare rolls rise in most states

The WSJ has a fairly detailed discussion on the rise in welfare rolls.

The recent rise in welfare families across the country is a sign that the welfare system is expanding at a time of added need, assuaging fears of some critics of Mr. Clinton's welfare overhaul who said the truly needy would be turned away.

"To me it's good news," says Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution, who helped draft the 1996 welfare-overhaul law as a Republican congressional staff member. "This is exactly what should happen."

Welfare cases peaked at above five million in 1995 and declined sharply after the 1996 law put time limits on benefits and emphasized moving recipients from welfare to work. The time limits vary by state, but the federally mandated maximum is five years with some exceptions; after that, benefits end. . . . .

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Outrageous case from Seattle: teens who beat a police officer so badly that he has brain damage get no jail time

This is an amazing case. The teachers for these students apparently said what fine kids they are. They also had little to no criminal records. I just don't understand how someone could beat a police officer (or anyone for that matter) who is laying helplessly on the ground.

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Obama's broken transparency promises

Even left wing members of the media, such as Michael Isikoff, are making this point:

As a senator, Barack Obama denounced the Bush administration for holding "secret energy meetings" with oil executives at the White House. But last week public-interest groups were dismayed when his own administration rejected a Freedom of Information Act request for Secret Service logs showing the identities of coal executives who had visited the White House to discuss Obama's "clean coal" policies. . . . .

The hard line appears to be no accident. After Obama's much-publicized Jan. 21 "transparency" memo, administration lawyers crafted a key directive implementing the new policy that contained a major loophole, according to FOIA experts. The directive, signed by Attorney General Eric Holder, instructed federal agencies to adopt a "presumption" of disclosure for FOIA requests. This reversal of Bush policy was intended to restore a standard set by President Clinton's attorney general, Janet Reno. But in a little-noticed passage, the Holder memo also said the new standard applies "if practicable" for cases involving "pending litigation." Dan Metcalfe, the former longtime chief of FOIA policy at Justice, says the passage and other "lawyerly hedges" means the Holder memo is now "astonishingly weaker" than the Reno policy. (The visitor-log request falls in this category because of a pending Bush-era lawsuit for such records.)

Administration officials say the Holder memo was drafted by senior Justice lawyers in consultation with Craig's office. The separate standard for "pending" lawsuits was inserted because of the "burden" it would impose on officials to go "backward" and reprocess hundreds of old cases, says Melanie Ann Pustay, who now heads the FOIA office. White House spokesman Ben LaBolt says Obama "has backed up his promise" with actions including the broadcast of White House meetings on the Web. (Others cite the release of the so-called torture memos.) As for the visitor logs, LaBolt says the policy is now "under review."

Here are some more broken promises as categorized by some on the left:

-- “eliminate all income taxation of seniors making less than $50,000 per year. This will eliminate taxes for 7 million seniors, saving them an average of $1,400 a year.”
-- “No political appointee will be able to lobby the executive branch after leaving government service during the remainder of the administration.”
-- State Secrets Legislation
-- Recognizing the Armenian Genocide

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Will the second amendment be applied to the states through the citizenship clause?

The ABA Journal has this:

University of Texas law professor Sanford Levinson told the New York Times that the case could present a dilemma for some conservative justices who scoffed at incorporation arguments in the past. Because of the touchy issues, he says he would be surprised if the Supreme Court agrees to hear new cases on the issue.

Yale law professor Akhil Reed Amar told the Times that incorporation fell out of favor after the 1960s, but it’s being resurrected by liberal scholars. Most of the Bill of Rights have been applied to the states under liberal Warren Court rulings that found the 14th Amendment required incorporation. One exception is the Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial, which has not been applied to the states.

“The precedents are now supportive of incorporation of nearly every provision of the Bill of Rights,” Amar told the Times. “Now what’s odd is that the Second Amendment doesn’t apply to the states.” . . . .

Akhil is right. The Second Amendment was actually the most talked about reason for applying the bill of rights to the states, but it is obviously one of the few parts of the bill of rights that hasn't been applied to the states.

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Sotomayor's selective view on discrimination

From Sotomayor's letter saying that she has resigned from the Belizean Grove organization:

"I believe the Belizean Grove does not practice invidious discrimination and my membership did not violate the Judicial Code of Ethics, but I do not want questions about this to distract anyone from my qualifications and record," Judge Sotomayor wrote in a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, and ranking Republican, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama.

Here is a previous editorial in the Washington Times on the Supreme Court case entitled Ricci v. DeStefano, which Sotomayor authored the Circuit court decision. Read that then read this earlier editorial in the Washington Times on the Belizean Grove. It certainly seems that Sotomayor has different standards on discrimination.

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Government regulation keeps consumers ignorant

This rule will actually prevent consumers from being informed.

The FDA sent a warning to Cheerios maker General Mills Inc. that it is in serious violation of federal rules.

"Based on claims made on your product's label, we have determined that your Cheerios Toasted Whole Grain Oat Cereal is promoted for conditions that cause it to be a drug because the product is intended for use in the prevention, mitigation, and treatment of disease" the FDA letter said. "[Cheerios] may not be legally marketed with the above claims in the United States without an approved new drug application."

If the FDA were to win its enforcement action against Cheerios, all the boxes would have to be pulled from grocery-store shelves, and children could only get their morning "fixes" with a prescription from their doctors.

Two claims on the Cheerios cereal box upset the FDA: "Cheerios is clinically proven to reduce cholesterol 4 percent in 6 weeks" and, "Cheerios can help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, by lowering the 'bad' cholesterol."

Susan Cruzan of the FDA's press office told The Washington Times the FDA is not objecting to the fact that clinical studies do, in fact, find that Cheerios do what General Mills claims. What concerns the FDA, according to Ms. Cruzan, is, "This is a food product, and they do have a health claim." Specifically, the agency objects to the preciseness of the claims, which she says would make the product classified as a drug. General Mills "could say 'heart disease,' but they are being specific and saying 'coronary heart disease,' " she explains.

Bruce Silverglade, director of legal affairs at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, applauds the FDA's determination and cautions that Cheerios is a "21st-century version of snake oil" that "could dissuade consumers from following proper medical advice on taking cholesterol-lowering drugs and proper dietary advice." The harm supposedly is that customers will read the label as saying that if they eat Cheerios, they can eat bad things in their diet and still get the benefits Cheerios claim. . . .

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