From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Johann Opitz)
Once again, Christians are erring on the side of Caesar worship. The forceful resurgence of the Christian right in America in the early 1980s paved the way for the post-Carter conservative renaissance in America. Hurray for the home team! But it has led to a fetishism of the Republican Party and a mum's-the-word approach to criticism of GOP presidents. As this relates to the ongoing war on terror, it's become especially worrisome. While a recent USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll shows the majority of Americans are beginning to express fears of losing civil liberties because of the war on terror, the American Center for Law and Justice - Pat Robertson's legal advocacy group - is attacking the ACLU for criticizing the USA Patriot Act, the hastily passed, post-9-11 legislation that Bob Barr called "the most massive assault on our civil liberties since our history began," when it was being debated in Congress.
"Frog sex malformities linked to weedkiller, study says" was a popular media story last week. University of California junk scientist Tyrone Hayes once again tried to link the widely used herbicide atrazine with deformed frog sex organs and allegedly declining frog populations. Hayes' one-page write-up of his latest scary "research" appeared in the Halloween issue of the pre-eminent journal Nature. No doubt the article was a treat for publicity-hungry Nature and anti-chemical activists (the sponsors of the study). For the rest of us, though, it was just another of Hayes' tricks. First, the premise for the research is dubious. Hayes purports to be concerned about "the growing evidence that [frog] populations are in decline." But all he musters to support this allegation is a citation to a lone and controversial 10-year-old report.
Slavery's Effects Disappeared in Two Generations
Economic disparities between the descendants of former slaves and free blacks largely disappeared within just two generations following emancipation, according to a study by Dartmouth economist Bruce Sacerdote < http://economics.uchicago.edu/download/slavery.pdf > that may lend ammunition to opponents of slavery reparations. "There's nothing positive you can say about slavery," Sacerdote said. "But what the study shows is how little slavery actually has to do with today's problems. It seems rather unlikely that slavery itself caused a lot of the racism problems present in the U.S. today." While the study does not set out to directly address the national debate on the topic, Sacerdote noted that his finding could be used to argue against slavery reparations.
Death Tax Repeal Will Be Introduced Again In Congress
With a beefed-up Republican majority in the House and a new GOP majority in the Senate in the 108th Congress, House Policy Committee Chairman Christopher Cox, R-Calif., announced Thursday he would re-introduce legislation to permanently repeal the federal estate tax. Under current law, the estate tax, also known as the "death tax," will completely phase out of existence in 2010, but could spring back to life a year later, in 2011. This year, the House passed a permanent death tax repeal, but similar legislation failed in the Senate.
Federal Government Sues Kentucky's Lt. Gov. Henry, a Surgeon, Over Medicare, Medicaid Billing
Federal authorities filed a lawsuit Thursday accusing Lt. Gov. Steve Henry, an orthopedic surgeon who plans to run for governor next year, of defrauding Medicare and Medicaid. The allegations stem from Henry's role supervising orthopedic residents, or surgeons in training, at the University of Louisville. Under federal regulations, supervising physicians must be present during surgery to legally bill the two government programs for their time. Thursday's lawsuit, brought under the False Claims Act, alleges Henry improperly billed for 44 surgeries it says he missed. All 44 surgeries were between 1996 and 2001 - years following Henry's 1995 election as lieutenant governor. Each incident described in the lawsuit outlines Henry's whereabouts at the time. Most show the Democrat attending political functions when the surgery was performed, including an Oct. 10, 1996, surgery the lawsuit shows listed for the same hours it says Henry was awaiting the arrival of President Clinton a!
t a political rally. Henry called the accusations untrue in a news conference Thursday. He said he only missed 16 surgeries, not 44, and blamed the billing errors in the 16 cases on staff members. He said the mistakes were not made "recklessly or intentionally."
U.S. program to aid hospitals in Mexico
Answers Arizona's call for help paying for migrants' care
Their call for help finally has been answered. After years lamenting the lack of federal help to cover the costs of caring for undocumented immigrants, Arizona hospitals hope those unpaid bills will be greatly reduced by a new, experimental U.S. government program. The government won't reimburse the hospitals. Rather, the idea is to improve services at Mexican-border hospitals so patients won't have to be rushed to Arizona for treatment. The $350,000 grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development will arrive in the form of medical equipment at the Hospital General de Nogales. Other Mexican hospitals along the Southwestern border will be in line for aid should the Nogales, Sonora, test succeed.
Floriduh's Most Corrupt County 'Loses' 100,000 Votes
Neighboring Broward County, the most heavily Democrat county in the state - and, not coincidentally, the most corrupt county in the state - "misplaced" more than 100,000 ballots cast in Tuesday's election. "The county elections office discovered 103,222 votes Wednesday that had not been counted - although officials had said 100 percent of the precincts were included in Tuesday night's results," the Associated Press reported today. Red-faced Democrat officials insisted that their latest fiasco did not change the outcome of any races.
Pro-gambling measures win approval
America's $62 billion legal gambling industry has emerged as a clear Election Day winner, as electorates from Arizona to Maryland approved pro-gambling measures or elected officials who favor more wagering in their states. One of those victories came in Tennessee, where voters cleared the way for the state to become the 38th with a lottery and the 48th with at least one kind of government-sanctioned gambling. Hawaii and Utah are the only states with no legal gambling.
CA: It's a power Brown-out for mayor of Oakland
A set of measures he proposed are slapped down by an unimpressed electorate.
Voters here, seemingly captivated four years ago by the idea that a former governor desired to lead their city, pummeled Mayor Jerry Brown's political star this week by defeating a trio of local ballot measures he championed in response to a rising homicide rate. Worsening Brown's election night was the loss suffered by the City Council candidate he endorsed and the narrow defeat of a fourth measure he strongly supported that would have allowed him to continue governing under "strong mayor" rules.
CA: State auditor: Charters lack supervision
Public school districts and state education officials are failing to monitor the academic success and financial health of California's charter schools, state Auditor Elaine Howle said in a report released Thursday. The inch-thick report on the taxpayer-funded alternative schools also found that some public school districts may be collecting fees from charter schools they sponsor without using the money to hire and train staff members to conduct oversight. Howle's report stemmed from a series of charter school failures in California, particularly last January's shutdown of the Fresno-based GateWay Academy, which had collected $1.3 million in debt, hired uncredentialed teachers and staff members who had not passed criminal background checks, and operated as many as 14 campuses between Pomona and Oakland.
CA: PUC gives a break to big users of energy
In a key decision on who should pay for California's electricity crisis, state regulators Thursday gave a lower bill -- for now -to some of the state's biggest businesses and institutions. As a way to salvage one of the hallmarks of electricity deregulation, a sharply split Public Utilities Commission agreed that some utility customers, mostly residents and small businesses, should temporarily pay billions more while many larger customers pay less. The decision was designed to preserve the affordability of "direct access" -- a program that lets consumers get their electricity from an alternative provider instead of Pacific Gas and Electric Co. or other utilities. On a 3-2 vote, the PUC decided that starting Jan. 1, direct access customers should pay a special surcharge of 2.7 cents per kilowatt-hour to begin repaying their share of extra costs run up during the state's power crisis. The vote stirred furious debate because the 2.7 cents is widely acknowledged to be too low,!
meaning that for years, utility customers will be loaning the difference to direct access customers.
Thomas Sowell: Race and cant
Cant has become the norm in discussions of any issue involving race or ethnicity. However, a new book by Linda Chavez -- a memoir of her own remarkable life -- should make it inescapably clear what counterproductive and even vile things have been going on in the name of racial betterment. The book is titled "An Unlikely Conservative," a title based on Ms. Chavez's poverty-stricken childhood and her initial role as an activist on the political left.
Winona and the Wichita massacre
Here is a story of two trials and how they were covered in the news. Or not covered. You tell me what it says about the media's twisted values. The first trial was held in Beverly Hills. The accused was Hollywood starlet Winona Ryder, charged with shoplifting at a Saks Fifth Avenue store. A Nexis search turned up more than 500 stories on the trial published over the past week alone. Television, news and radio reporters from around the world breathlessly described Ryder's daily court attire -- her hairbands, her coatdresses, her shoes, her bra straps, her lipstick. ... This, you see, was news that mattered. News fit to print. Meanwhile, in unglamorous Wichita, Kan., the eight-week trial of Jonathan and Reginald Carr came to a close. The brothers were found guilty of four counts of capital murder, along with numerous charges of rape, aggravated robbery, burglary and theft, committed during an unspeakably brutal killing spree in December 2000. The perpetrators were black. The!
victims -- including friends Jason Befort, Heather Muller, Bradley Heyka and Aaron Sander -- were white. The Carrs were convicted of murdering these four young people, execution-style, on a frozen soccer field after a night of terror in Befort, Heyka and Sander's townhouse. ... But with the exception of local Kansas newspapers, the Associated Press, The Washington Times, Fox News, Court TV and conservative Internet sites, the Carr trial made almost no news. If you read The New York Times or The Washington Post or watched the evening news this week, the Wichita Massacre never happened. Not to worry, though. The latest investigative report on where Winona Ryder got that Hermes handbag is coming up next. Stay tuned.
Registration required: Are sex offenders unique?
If a convicted child molester moved into the house across the street, I'd want to know. But I'd also want to know if my new neighbor had been convicted of homicide, assault, robbery, burglary, larceny or fraud. Which suggests one of the problems with sex offender registration laws, the focus of two cases the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on Wednesday. These laws -- which require sex offenders who have served their sentences to report their whereabouts to the government, which passes the information on to the public -- are both too narrow and too broad. They are too narrow because they do not cover a wide range of potentially dangerous characters whom citizens might want to avoid. They are too broad because the sex offender label sweeps together serial predators with individuals who pose little or no threat to the public. For example, Alaska's law, one of the two the Supreme Court will consider, applies to people convicted of possessing child pornography.
Johann Opitz <email@example.com> RKBA!