Category Archives: Big Government

Happy Holidays: FDA Moves to Ban Cake, Donut ‘Sprinkles’

Sprinkles

Early next year, the FDA is expected to finalize a new regulation intended to eradicate even trace amounts of partially hydrogenated oils, known as trans fats, from our diets.

Although the amount of trans fats Americans consume has declined significantly in recent years, the FDA’s quest to completely eliminate a particular type of trans fat threatens to eliminate the noble “sprinkle,” used to decorate holiday treats and donuts. Even a small amount of joy is suspect in the FDA’s brave, new, food-monitored world.

In recent years, research has determined that consuming large amounts of trans fats is harmful to the heart. Trans fats have been in the American diet since the 1950s, but recent awareness of its health risks have pushed food companies and restaurants to minimize its use. Today, Americans consume just 1.3 grams of trans fats a day, around 0.6% of total caloric intake. No research has shown this level of consumption to pose any risk.

by Mike Flynn22 Dec 2014 Washington, DC103 breitbart

Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels’ Step-Grandchildren Are All Billionaires

via Business Insider: 

The step-grandchildren of Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels are billionaires, although their wealth comes mostly from their biological relatives, Bloomberg’s David de Jong reports.

goebbels

Here’s how the relationship works:

  • In 1931, Goebbels married Magda Quandt, who’d previously been married to industrialist Guenther Quandt (as well as another man before).
  • Harald Quandt (actually the son of Magda’s first husband) wound up living with Goebbels after the marriage.
  • When Guenther — himself implicated as a Nazi follower though not involved in the regime’s crimes — died, Harald and his half-brother Herbert Quandt inherited his fortune.

That included ownership of two large manufacturing firms as well as stakes in Daimler-Benz and potash miner Wintershall AG.

Today, Herbert’s widow Johanna Quandt, 86, and their children Susanne Klatten and Stefan Quandt remain BMW’s dominant shareholders, de Jong says. Meanwhile, he writes, “the billionaire daughters of Harald Quandt — Katarina Geller-Herr, 61, Gabriele Quandt, 60, Anette-Angelika May-Thies, 58, and 50-year-old Colleen-Bettina Rosenblat-Mo — have kept a lower profile.”

Goebbels poisoned himself and his biological children as the war was ending.

Click here to read the full story from de Jong >

12 Fascinating People Who Are Heading To Congress Next Year

via Business Insider: 

 

The House of Representatives will have several fresh faces among the ranks in the upcoming term. 

The 2012 election was a particularly strong year for challengers — a whopping 66 new members will head to Washington when the 113th Congress kicks off in January.

With close to 15 percent of the new House comprised of fresh faces, there are a lot of new people to meet.

We’ve checked them out, and compiled a list of the 12 members who, because of their strange back-stories or all-star potential, are bound to make life on Capitol Hill more interesting next year.

 

Krysten Sinema (D-AZ)

Krysten Sinema (D-AZ)

Wikimedia Commons

Sinema, the first openly bisexual person elected to Congress, is one of the most fascinating up-and-comers in the Democratic Party.

A Tucson native, Sinema spent several years of her childhood living with her family in an abandoned gas station without running water or electricity. Despite her poor background, she graduated as valedictorian of her high-school class, and went on to graduate from Brigham Young University and earn three advanced degrees, in law, social work, and justice studies.

Sinema entered politics in 2005 as a member of the Arizona state legislature. She has earned a reputation for her fierce liberal politics, even taking on Arizona’s controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio. In 2010, TIME magazine named her to its 40 Under 40 list.

Source: The Almanac Of American PoliticsThe New York Times

Ted Yoho (R-FL)

Ted Yoho (R-FL)

YohoForCongress via YouTube

Yoho, a large animal veterinarian from Gainesville, scored one of the most shocking upsets of the 2012 primaries, defeating 12-term Republican Congressman Cliff Stearns by fewer than 1,000 votes.

During the primary, Yoho made a national media splash for his unconventional campaign, which included a fundraiser with a George W. Bush impersonator and a Herman Cain-style ad featuring “career politicians” rolling around in a pig trough. 

Yoho will carry the Tea Party torch in the 113th Congress, filling the role vacated by departing representatives like Florida’s Allen West. Last week, he made it clear he won’t march in lockstep with the Republican Establishment when he told NPR that he doesn’t plan on signing Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge. 

Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI)

Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI)

Getty Images

Despite being just 31 years old, Gabbard is already considered a rising star in the Democratic Party. She will be the first Hindu member, and, along with Democratic Representative-elect Tammy Duckworth, one of the first female combat veterans to serve in Congress.

Gabbard got her start in politics, when she was elected to the Hawaii state legislature at age 21, making her the youngest female state representative ever elected in the U.S.

While serving as a state lawmaker, Gabbard joined the Hawaii National Guard. In 2004, she opted out of a second term to voluntarily deploy to Iraq with a field medical unit. She went on to attend Officer Candidate School in Alabama, where she was the first woman to ever graduate at the top of her class, and voluntarily deployed again in 2008, serving as a military police platoon leader training counterterrorism units in Kuwait.

After returning from her deployment in 2009, Gabbard co-founded the environmental educational nonprofit Healthy Hawaii Coalition, started her own film production company, and served on the Honolulu City Council.

Source: Tulsi Gabbard 2012

Kerry Bentivolio (R-MI)

Kerry Bentivolio (R-MI)

AP

A Santa Claus impersonator and part-time reindeer farmer, Bentivolio emerged from the political shadows this year to win the election to replace Republican Rep. Thad McCotter, the one-time presidential candidate who resigned earlier this year amid a campaign signature scandal.

The campaign to replace McCotter was one of the most bizarre races of the 2012 cycle. Reports from the Detroit Free Press revealed that Bentivolio has a history of legal and financial troubles, and resigned from his job teaching high school amid accusations that he had threatened students.

Bentivolio also came under fire for his acting role in a 2011 film that appeared to blame former President George W. Bush for the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. And in the final weeks of the general election, Bentivolio’s own brother told reporters that the candidate is “mentally unbalanced” and would “eventually serve time in prison.” (Bentivolio responded by saying that his brother has “serious mental issues.”)

Despite these issues, Bentivolio ultimately prevailed, aided by outside spending groups including Liberty For All, a super PAC founded by young Ron Paul supporters. 

Politically, Bentivolio remains something of a mystery, so we’ll leave you with this quote, uncovered by the Free Press from a lawsuit against Bentivolio’s company Old Fashioned Santa:

“I have a problem figuring out which one I really am, Santa Claus or Kerry Bentivolio,” he said in his deposition. “All my life I have been told I’m Kerry Bentivolio, and now, I am a Santa Claus, so now I prefer to be Santa Claus.”

Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)

Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)

Getty Images

A double amputee veteran, Duckworth was one of the first Army women to fly combat missions in Iraq, and, along with Gabbard, will be one of the first female combat veterans to serve in Congress.

Duckworth joined the ROTC in 1990 while enrolled as a graduate student at George Washington University. She was deployed to Iraq in 2004, and lost both of her legs when she was hit with a rocket-propelled grenade while co-piloting a Blackhawk helicopter.

Although Duckworth has never before held public office, she has long been a favorite of top Democrats, including Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) who urged her to run for Congress in 2006. She narrowly lost that race, but rose to prominence in the party, earning major speaking roles at the 2008 and 2012 national conventions.

In November, she further delighted Democrats by defeating vulnerable Republican incumbent Rep. Joe Walsh to win the seat representing Illinois’ 8th district.

Source: The Almanac Of American Politics

Chris Stewart (R-UT)

Chris Stewart (R-UT)

AP

Those who were disappointed by the Tea Party losses in 2012 will be comforted by the election of Stewart, an End Times novelist who counts Glenn Beck as a fan.

Stewart’s first claim to fame came during his 14-year stint as a pilot for the Air Force, when he set the world record for fastest uninterrupted flight around the world (36 hours and 13 minutes). Since then, he has penned 14 novels, including the six-part End Times series the “Great And Terrible,” which envisions the United States in the aftermath of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack. He has also written two New York Times bestsellers, both of which were endorsed by Beck, whom Stewart counts as a friend. Beck and Stewart are now working on a 10-part EBook adaptation of the “Great And Terrible” series.

Like Beck, a fellow member of the Church of Latter-Day Saints, Stewart is a staunch believer in American Exceptionalism who believes that Americans’ core freedoms are under threat. He advocates far-right conservative social and fiscal policies, including dramatically slashing the size of the federal government and a ban on gay soldiers serving in the military.

Source: Mother Jones

Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY)

Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY)

AP

Although he has never before held public office, Maloney heads to Washington with a stacked political Rolodex.

The New York Democrat first got his start in politics working on both of Bill Clinton’s presidential campaigns. After Clinton’s re-election bid, Maloney nabbed a coveted White House job as the No. 3 to White House Chief of Staff John Podesta, and was later promoted to staff secretary, coordinating the flow of communication to the President.

After Clinton left office, Maloney did a stint in the private sector, but returned to politics in 2006, when he mounted a failed primary challenge against Andrew Cuomo in the New York Attorney General’s race. In 2007, he joined Eliot Spitzer’s administration as first deputy secretary.

After winning a hotly-contested Democratic primary this year, Maloney went on to eke out a narrow victory over Republican incumbent Nan Hayworth in New York’s newly-redrawn 18th district, boosted by strong support from the Democratic Party and liberal Super PACs. He will be the first gay representative to serve in New York’s congressional delegation.

Source: The Almanac of American Politics 

Ann Wagner (R-MO)

Ann Wagner (R-MO)

AP

Like Maloney, Wagner will already be a power player in party politics when she arrives in Washington this January, despite never having held public office.

A former chair of the Missouri Republican Party, Wagner is credited with shepherding the state’s shift from blue state to red state. She went on to serve as co-chair of the Republican National Committee during President George W. Bush’s re-election campaign, where she gained a reputation for being a powerhouse fundraiser by bringing in more than $100,000 for Bush’s second bid. The achievement earned her a cushy job as the U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg,

In the 113th Congress, Wagner’s profile is also likely to be boosted by the notoriety of her predecessor, Missouri Rep. Todd Akin, who is best known for his infamous “legitimate rape” remarks. As the GOP attempts to repair its image with female voters in the wake of the 2012 election, Wagner will likely take a visible role in the makeover.

Source: The Almanac of American Politics 

Joe Kennedy (D-MA)

Joe Kennedy (D-MA)

AP

After a two-year hiatus, the Kennedy family will once again see a member of its clan in Congress, when Joseph Kennedy III, the 32-year-old grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, is sworn in this January.

Expectations are high for Kennedy, who will replace retiring Congressman Barney Frank to represent Massachusetts’ 4th district. Given our national obsession with the Kennedy dynasty, the incoming congressman’s every move will likely be under a media microscope.

Unlike some of his relatives, however, Kennedy seems relatively drama-free. He graduated with a degree in industrial engineering from Stanford University — where he was also captain of the lacrosse team — and went on to serve in the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic before earning a law degree from Harvard University. Since 2009, he has worked as an assistant district attorney in Massachusetts.

This public service background — combined with his political pedigree and boyish looks — put Kennedy in a strong position to take on a visible role in the Democratic Party. And if his rousing tribute to great-uncle Ted Kennedy at this year’s DNC is any indication, the young Kennedy is ready to play the part.

Source: Joe Kennedy 2012 

George Holding (R-NC)

George Holding (R-NC)

AP

As a U.S. Attorney in North Carolina, Holding established a reputation in the state for prosecuting high-profile political corruption cases, mostly against Democrats.

He is best known for spearheading the criminal prosecution of John Edwards, who was indicted on campaign finance charges related to the nearly $1 million his political supporters gave to help hide his mistress, Rielle Hunter, during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Although Holding won the indictment, he did not argue the case because he had stepped down from the U.S. attorney job in order to run for Congress. The Edwards case was a focal point of Holding’s 2012 campaign, prompting accusations that he had initiated the indictment to serve his own political ambitions.

Holding has already proven himself as a GOP, particularly as the party seeks to move North Carolina firmly into its column for 2014. In addition to being an effective attack dog, Holding is a millionaire (his family owns First Citizens Bank) and a power fundraiser. His name is already being floated as a possible GOP candidate to run against Democratic incumbent Kay Hagen in North Carolina’s 2014 Senate race.

Source: PoliticoThe Raleigh News and Observer

Joaquin Castro (D-TX)

Joaquin Castro (D-TX)

AP

A Democratic state lawmaker from Texas, Joaquin Castro is the identical twin brother of San Antonio Mayor Juliàn Castro, who stepped into the national spotlight as the keynote speaker at this year’s DNC. 

The Castro brothers, both of whom graduated from Stanford and Harvard Law School, emerged as rising stars in the national Democratic Party during the 2012 campaign, hitting the trail to stump for President Barack Obama and other candidates. Joaquin, who was running a relatively easy campaign in Texas’ 20th district, also stepped up to raise money for his fellow congressional candidates, earning the esteem of the DCCC by raking in more than $100,000.

Thanks to his convention speech, Juliàn is the more well-known Castro twin, at least for now. But that could change when Joaquin heads to Washington, where he will be thrust into the national debate and media spotlight. Interestingly, Joaquin is also the unmarried twin — a fact that, while politically irrelevant, makes him more likely to surface in the Beltway gossip scene.

Thomas Massie (R-KY)

Thomas Massie (R-KY)

AP

Massie is a beneficiary of both the Tea Party movement and the Ron Paul Revolution, whose combined support propelled him to victory over the Establishment-backed candidate in the Republican primary in Kentucky’s 4th district.

A political newcomer, Massie is an accomplished scientist and engineer, with two degrees from MIT. In 1993, He and his wife, a fellow MIT graduate, started the successful firm SensAble Technologies to market his invention, “The Phantom,” which allowed users to have tactile interaction with objects in cyberspace,according to a 1996 essay in Fortune magazine. 

Massie sold the company in 2003 and returned to Kentucky to run a farm, where he built an off-the-grid timber-frame house that runs on solar energy. He made his first foray into politics in 2010, when he ran for office as a county judge and won. He credits his involvement to his growing concern about government overreach and spending.

This academic background sets Massie apart from his House colleagues, particularly those who rose up on the support of the Tea Party. Although it is too soon to tell what he will do in Congress, we’ll be watching to see whether Massie takes the lead for the GOP on emerging issues like Internet freedom and copyright reform.

Could a tea partyer replace Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.?

via Yahoo:

 

The congressional seat vacated by Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. this week is attracting no small amount of interest.

Since Jackson announced on Wednesday that he was leaving office after 17 years for mental-health reasons, the local media have cited a number of sources saying they want to represent Illinois‘ Second District. They include his wife, Chicago Alderman Sandi Jackson; his brother, John Jackson; and former US Rep. Debbie Halvorson, who lost to Congressman Jackson in the March Democratic primary.

Other names include Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Illinois State Sen. Toi Hutchinson, and Sam Adams, an Illinois attorney who led former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s defense team.

RECOMMENDED: 10 richest members of Congress

Some Democrats see a danger in so many would-be members of congressman. “My fear is that there is going to be so many wannabes blinded by ambition … that we could find a tea party” candidate winning, said Rep. Bobby Rush, who represents Illinois’ First District, hours after Jackson’s resignation.

With President Obama taking 82 percent of the vote in the Nov. 6 election, that would seem a remote prospect. Whoever advances from the Democratic primary would seem to be the overwhelming favorite.

Still, independent candidate Marcus Lewis has already announced his candidacy. He lost to Jackson in November, taking only about 14 percent of the vote. He made his intentions known late Wednesday, telling supporters he planned to run “to stop the trickery” associated with the seat “for decades.”

In his resignation letter sent to House Speaker John Boehner Wednesday, Jackson noted that he was also preparing for a federal indictment that media reports say should be announced against him in the near future. The House Ethics Committee is investigating whether Jackson tried to bribe imprisonedGovernor Blagojevich for an appointment to Mr. Obama’s former Senate seat, or at least tried to engage in the process through an emissary. Jackson denies the charges.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is also reportedly investigating allegations that Jackson improperly used campaign funds to decorate his Washington home.

“I am doing my best to address the situation responsibly, cooperate with the investigators, and accept my responsibility for my mistakes, for they are my mistakes and mine alone,” Jackson wrote.

Since Jackson submitted his letter, Ms. Halvorson says her phone has been ringing. Supporters and other local leaders urging her to run, she says. She represented Illinois’ 11th District for one term before losing two years ago. This year, she lost to Jackson 71 to 29 percent in the Second District primary.

“This district has been so underrepresented, and not just over the last six months, it’s been a long time. You can’t have somebody going into this seat with a learning curve,” she says.

Most people felt Jackson would wait until after the Christmas holiday to resign, Halvorson says. She said the timing put her “in a crazy spot” in which she’ll have to “figure out what is in the best interest of the district.”

“I never thought I would be at this again, but we also have another 100 days,” she says. “We have to prove that honor needs to be put back into the seat and that being a member of Congress is an admirable position. We have work cut out for us.”

On Monday, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to announce the date for a special election that he promised will be “as economical as possible for taxpayers.” Estimates by the Illinois State Board of Elections suggest it will cost about $5.15 million for both a primary and a general election.

The special election date must fall within 115 days of the vacancy. Cook County Clerk David Orr said he fellow county clerks are urging Quinn to schedule the special election for April 9, with a primary on Feb. 26, in order to coincide with election dates in suburban areas, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Mr. Orr warned candidates against making announcements or circulating petitions before the election date is set.

“People can always be talking to voters, there’s nothing to stop them from that, but at this point I would not encourage petition gathering until we have a better handle on this,” he said.

The Second District covers portions of Will and Kankakee Counties and southern Cook County, including the South Side of Chicago.

Judge Grants Reprieve To Student Expelled For Refusing To Wear Tracking Device Badge

via CNS:

 

Andrea Hernandez won’t have to leave her high school for refusing to wear a badge designed to track her every move there – yet – her attorneys announced today.

A district court judge for Bexar County, Texas, has granted a temporary restraining order to prevent Northside Independent School District from removing a Hernandez from John Jay High School’s Science and Engineering Academy because she refused to wear a name badge designed to use a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip to track students’ precise location on school property, the Hernandez’s attorneys announced today.

“The court’s willingness to grant a temporary restraining order is a good first step, but there is still a long way to go—not just in this case, but dealing with the mindset, in general, that everyone needs to be monitored and controlled,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute.

“Regimes in the past have always started with the schools, where they develop a compliant citizenry. These ‘Student Locator’ programs are ultimately aimed at getting students used to living in a total surveillance state where there will be no privacy, and wherever you go and whatever you text or email will be watched by the government,” Whitehead warned.

The school had reportedly offered to allow Hernandez to wear a non-functional badge, giving the appearance of support for the program, but she declined.

Homeland Security spent $430 million on radios its employees don’t know how to use

via Raw Story:

janetnapolitano-afp

Getting the agencies responsible for national security to communicate better was one of the main reasons the Department of Homeland Security was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

But according to a recent report from the department’s inspector general, one aspect of this mission remains far from accomplished.

 

DHS has spent $430 million over the past nine years to provide radios tuned to a common, secure channel to 123,000 employees across the country. Problem is, no one seems to know how to use them.

Only one of 479 DHS employees surveyed by the inspector general’s office was actually able to use the common channel, according to the report. Most of those surveyed 2014 72 percent 2014 didn’t even know the common channel existed. Another 25 percent knew the channel existed but weren’t able to find it; 3 percent were able to find an older common channel, but not the current one.

The investigators also found that more than half of the radios did not have the settings for the common channel programmed into them. Only 20 percent of radios tested had all the correct settings.

The radios are supposed to help employees of Customs and Border Patrol, the Transportation Security Administration, the Coast Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Secret Service, and other agencies with DHS communicate during crises, as well as normal operations.

DHS officials did not immediately respond to questions from ProPublica about what effect the radio problems could have on how the agency handles an emergency.

The $430 million paid for radio infrastructure and maintenance as well as the actual radios.

 

In a response letter to the report, Jim H. Crumpacker, the Department of Homeland Security’s liaison between the Government Accountability Office and the inspector general, wrote that DHS had made “significant strides” in improving emergency communications since 2003. But he acknowledged that DHS “has had some challenges in achieving Department-wide interoperable communications goals.”

The recent inspector general’s report is the latest in a string of critical assessments DHS has received on its efforts to improve communication between federal, state and local agencies. The Government Accountability Office reported in 2007 that the Department of Homeland Security had “generally not achieved” this  goal.

DHS has assigned a blizzard of offices and committees to oversee its radio effort since 2003, which the inspector general’s report claimed had “hindered DHS’ ability to provide effective oversight.”

Also, none of the entities “had the authority to implement and enforce their recommendations,” the report concluded. Tanya Callender, a spokeswoman for the inspector general, said the current office overseeing the effort hadn’t been given the authority to force agencies to use the common channel or even to provide instructions for programming the radios.

The inspector general recommended DHS standardize its policies regarding radios, which DHS agreed to do. But it rejected a second recommendation that it overhaul the office overseeing the radios to give it more authority.

“DHS believes that it has already established a structure with the necessary authority to ensure” that its various agencies can communicate, Crumpacker wrote in his response letter.

 

SKOREAN MAN SENTENCED FOR RETWEETING NKOREAN POSTS

via AP:

 

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A South Korean man has received a suspended 10-month prison term for retweeting North Korean propaganda posts.

The Suwon District Court cited the National Security Law in its ruling Wednesday against Park Jeong-geun. The law prohibits praising and glorifying North Korea. Park could have received seven years in prison.

The court says it suspended the prison term partly because Park promised not to repeat his act. It says Twitter’s widespread influence over society is the reason Park’s actions threatened national security

The 24-year-old Park retweeted dozens of posts from North Korea’s Twitter account last year. He reportedly denies that he meant to praise Pyongyang and says he was only trying to lampoon North Korea.

Seoul and Pyongyang technically remain at war because their 1950-53 conflict ended with a truce.

China arrests blogger for Twitter joke

via Guardian:

Internet petition for Chinese blogger arrested after posting Twitter joke about Communist leadership congress

China-congress-Beijing

China has arrested a Beijing blogger for joking on Twitter about the 18th Communist party congress, suggesting a horror movie scenario involving the Great Hall of the People (pictured) collapsing on delegates. Photograph: Carlos Barria/REUTERS

Chinese internet users are rallying around a Beijing blogger detained by police after posting a joke on Twitter about the pivotal Communist Party congress.

Chinese authorities have been especially sensitive to dissent about the party meeting, which last week ushered in a new generation of leaders. Activists were sent out of Beijing beforehand, and police rounded up hundreds of people who tried to draw the central authorities’ attention to grievances against local governments.

Zhai Xiaobing’s tweet on 5 November suggested that the next “movie” in the “Final Destination” horror franchise would be about the Great Hall of the People collapsing on party delegates.

He tweeted: “An earthshaking debut will be seen at the global premiere on Nov 8!” The congress began on 8 November.

After Zhai’s Twitter account fell silent for a few days, a friend of his, Liu Yanping, grew worried and visited his home in Miyun county in Beijing’s north-eastern suburbs. Family members there told her that Miyun county police had taken Zhai away on 7 November and seized his computer, Liu said.

A Miyun county police officer who would only give his surname, Sun, told the Associated Press on Wednesday that Zhai was being investigated for “spreading terrorist information”. The charge carries a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment.

Zhai’s supporters say the allegation is absurd and more than 400 people have signed an online petition calling on police to release him – and to have more of a sense of humour.

“I was very shocked when I realised what happened to him. I’ve consulted a few lawyers and I feel that it’s clear his Twitter joke does not amount to spreading terrorist information,” Liu said. “It’s just preposterous.”

Liu said she and a few other activists have been in touch with Zhai’s family and would help hire a lawyer. She said state security officials had visited Zhai’s wife to warn her to keep a low profile.

Zhai’s wife, when reached by phone, declined to comment on her husband’s situation.

The online petition, written by the outspoken blogger and free-speech advocate Wen Yunchao, urges the authorities to lighten up.

“We solemnly request that Beijing police find a little sense of humour and not make a big deal out of nothing,” it said. “In particular, do not destroy the goodwill and anticipation the public has for the new office holders after the 18th party congress by limiting and persecuting an ordinary citizen’s normal freedom of speech in such a groundless fashion.”

Further inquiries were directed to the Beijing Public Security Bureau, which did not immediately respond to a faxed list of questions.

A rights group said Zhai’s case could be seen as a test of whetherChina‘s incoming leaders will continue the recent steady crackdown authorities have imposed on the country’s small community of activists, dissidents and lawyers.

“The new leadership has two choices: continue down the path of criminal prosecution to signal that they are unwilling to change, or release Zhai to show goodwill that it is responding to popular demands for greater freedom,” said Maya Wang, a researcher for Human Rights Watch, based in Hong Kong.

Iowa City Moves Forward With Backyard Chickens

via KCRG:

 

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa City moved closer Tuesday night to allowing people to keep chickens in their backyards, but supporters should be careful not to count their chickens before they hatch.

The City Council voted 5-2 on each of the first considerations of two ordinances related to what are often called backyard or urban chickens. Two more readings of each are necessary for the ordinances to pass. One would change the city’s zoning code to allow chickens in city limits and the other would establish a permit process.

Even if those are approved, the council still must vote on a policy laying out the regulations chicken owners would have to follow. And council members were divided on an aspect of that.

Mayor Matt Hayek said he was not sure he would support a policy unless it required people who want chickens to get permission from their neighbors. Connie Champion agreed.

Michelle Payne and Terry Dickens cast the dissenting votes, saying the vast majority of people they had spoken with were opposed to backyard chickens. Four votes would provide the majority needed to defeat a backyard chicken policy.

Council members Susan Mims and Rick Dobyns said they would not support neighbor veto power. Mims said no other zoning issue in the city gives people such authority.

The backyard chicken issue has been discussed in the community for years and was the subject of two petitions asking the city to allow chickens in town.

If chickens were allowed, Iowa City would join Cedar Rapids, Mount Vernon, and other towns across Iowa and the nation that let people keep chickens in city limits.

More than a dozen supporters – many of them wearing small, red paper cutouts of chickens on their shirts – were at City Hall Tuesday night. They said chickens would provide a local source for food, be environmentally friendly, educational for kids and promote healthy food.

“We need to make sure that our food is the most healthful that it could be,” said Shannon Gassman of Iowa City.

Opponents, however, worried about the possible noise, smell and general nuisance of having chickens near them and said organic eggs are easy to get in the Iowa City area.

Jay Honohan of Iowa City doubted the alleged superiority of eggs from backyard chickens.

“You’re looking at a guy who’s 82 and I’ve been eating those eggs at Hy-Vee all my life,” he told the council.

The preliminary policy would require a permit and says no more than four hens would be allowed, and no roosters. There also would be regulations against slaughtering chickens and selling eggs and governing the use and location of coops.

Archaic Gambling Laws

via Lew Rockwell Blog:

 

During Prohibition, my grandmother (widowed) on my mother’s side made beer in a hidden room and sold it locally, until a neighbor snitched on her. My mom, a youngster, used to distribute the beer in pails. My dad drove a taxi for a short spell and he too carried booze. None of them was flush with cash. My mother-in-law, who was quite hard up, used to run card games in her home.

This brings me to a police raid in Florida against a free poker playing league. Florida and other states have laws against gambling:

“849.01 Keeping gambling houses, etc.—Whoever by herself or himself, her or his servant, clerk or agent, or in any other manner has, keeps, exercises or maintains a gaming table or room, or gaming implements or apparatus, or house, booth, tent, shelter or other place for the purpose of gaming or gambling or in any place of which she or he may directly or indirectly have charge, control or management, either exclusively or with others, procures, suffers or permits any person to play for money or other valuable thing at any game whatever, whether heretofore prohibited or not, shall be guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.”

The states run huge lotteries. The big guys run racetracks. The big guys build casinos. The little people can’t enter these businesses.