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Just four days before he left office, President Bush instructed former White House aide Karl Rove to refuse to cooperate with future congressional inquiries into alleged misconduct during his administration. On Jan. 16, 2009, then White House Counsel Fred Fielding sent a letter (.pdf) to Rove’s lawyer, Robert Luskin. The message: should his client receive any future subpoenas, Rove “should not appear before Congress” or turn over any documents relating to his time in the White House. The letter told Rove that President Bush was continuing to assert executive privilege over any testimony by Rove—even after he leaves office. A nearly identical letter (.pdf) was also sent by Fielding the day before to a lawyer for former White House counsel Harriet Miers, instructing her not to appear for a scheduled deposition with the House Judiciary Committee. That letter reasserted the White House position that Miers has “absolute immunity” from testifying before Congress about anything she did while she worked at the White House—a far-reaching claim that is being vigorously disputed by lawyers for the House of Representatives in court.
James Ridgeway of Mother Jones-A test case for the new government will be how it deals with the pharmaceutical industry, which rivals the gun manufacturers and tobacco companies for the position of most amoral industry in America.
Democrats have long been promising to stand up to Big Pharma on issues like Medicare drug pricing and importing drugs from Canada, but they’ve accomplished little since they won Congressional majorities in 2006. If they truly want to reign in the drugmakers now that they have the clout, they’ll need to not only move forward on these hot-button issues, but also completely overhaul the Food and Drug Administration, which stands as one of the most corrupt and compromised bodies in the federal government today.
Last week offered a glimmer of hope, with a bipartisan bill aimed at one of the many scurrilous practices employed by drug companies to win swift approval for their products and push them on the public. Called the Physician Payments Sunshine Act of 2009, the legislation was introduced last Thursday by Senators Herb Kohl (D-WI), Chair of the Senate Special Committee on the Aging, and Charles Grassley (R-IA), in the past a rare Republican voice opposing some of Big Pharma’s outrages. They are calling for establishment of ”a nationwide standard requiring drug, device and biologic makers to report payments to doctors to the Department of Health and Human Services and for those payments to be posted online in a user friendly way for public consumption.”
Bruce Falconer of Mother Jones-Get ready. There’s a battle brewing in Virginia over gun rights, and if the comments to my recent piece on assault weapons are any indication, it’s not going to be pretty. After years of trying, the Senate Courts of Justice Committee last week voted 8-7 to pass legislation closing the so-called “gun-show loophole.”
While commercial sellers are already required to perform instant background checks before completing a sale, small-time, amateur dealers (who, according to the Washington Post, make up an estimated 35 percent of sellers are Virginia gun shows) are not. The fear is that this opens an opportunity for the mentally insane or criminally minded to bypass safeguards meant to keep weapons out of their hands.
The bill’s provisions are modest at best. It does nothing more than extend the intent of the law to cover all gun transactions. Gun show operators would be required to ensure that all dealers, including amateurs, have the ability to conduct instant checks. In practice, this would amount to the small inconvenience of strolling across the aisle to use computers already maintained by professional dealers.
The law would not apply to black powder or antique weapons, nor would it affect buyers with permits to carry concealed firearms.
The bill must now pass the full Senate, before moving on to the House of Delegates, where Republicans are expected to fight fiercely to defeat it.
GOP leaders — led by John Boehner and Eric Cantor — have spent days bashing the economic stimulus package being touted by President Obama and Democrats because it doesn’t sufficiently cut taxes. But is it probable that the alternative plan House Republicans unveiled as a more responsible approach earlier this week would have actually raised taxes for untold numbers of Americans? That’s the surprising claim that House Democratic staffers who have taken a look at the GOP plan are now making. They insist to me that the Republicans did some almost comic number shuffling in drawing up their proposal, the upshot of which would be that the actual tax bill would go up for many. And they’re now preparing to make an issue of this in the districts of Republican House members by painting Republicans as the would-be tax hikers. According to Dems on the House Ways and Means Committee who have crunched the numbers, the GOP plan, which would reduce income taxes, would as a result shove millions over on to the Alternative Income Tax rate, which would be higher for them.
So much for less taxes!
(Illseed News) A recent study will have men shaking in their boxers if they choked the chicken a bit too much in their younger years. Researchers at the University of Nottingham have determined that men who masturbate often in their 20s and 30s are far more prone to developing prostate cancer. The scientists surveyed 800 men and about half of them had suffered from prostate cancer. The same data could be attributed to gentlemen that got their mack on frequently with the ladies, but the higher sexual activity was generally credited the act of self-love. Ironically, men over 40 that masturbate or shag a lot of babes can reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
Could this be why republicans have twice the prostate cancer rates of democrats?
(CNN) – Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell painted a downright dismal view of the state of his party Thursday afternoon, telling Republican National Committee members the GOP is in grave danger of being marginalized to a regional party.
“We’re all concerned about the fact that the very wealthy and the very poor, the most and least educated, and a majority of minority voters, seem to have more or less stopped paying attention to us,” the Kentucky Republican said on the second day of the four-day gathering.
“And we should be concerned that, as a result of all this, the Republican Party seems to be slipping into a position of being more of a regional party than a national one.
“In politics there’s a name for a regional party, it’s called a minority party,” said McConnell.
Here’s a clue Mitch of what America wants of the GOP, get back to the basics of the 1970’s and 80’s, stop the preferential treatment of the rich at the expense of the middle class, and most importantly, stop pandering to the Christian right and their socially oppressive agenda.
(CNN) — Environmentalists are encouraged by President Barack Obama’s focus this week on renewable energy and stricter emissions standards, although some economists are skeptical he can pull the country out of the recession while cleaning up the planet. Obama must strike a careful balance between stimulating the economy in the coming months and investing in the long-term future of the environment, said Raj Chetty, professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley.
Washington Times-The divorce rate among soldiers and Marines increased last year as military marriages suffered continuing stress from America’s two ongoing wars.
There were an estimated 10,200 failed marriages in the active duty Army and 3,077 among Marines, according to figures obtained by the Associated Press for the budget year ended Sept. 30.
That’s a divorce rate of 3.5 percent among more than 287,000 married troops in the Army, up from 3.3 percent in the previous fiscal year, according to Defense Department figures.
“With increasing demands placed on Army families and soldiers, including frequent deployments and relocations, intimate relationships are tested,” said Army spokesman Paul Boyce.
Classic GOP “Family Values” and “Supporting the Troops”
WASHINGTON (CNN) — The U.S. Army is recalling more than 16,000 sets of body armor even though the secretary of the Army disagrees with a Department of Defense report that some of the ceramic plates failed testing and might not offer the protection required for troops on the battlefield.
The report by the Department of Defense inspector general’s office, expected to be released officially on Friday, says the Army had flawed testing procedures before awarding contracts to make the armor plates.
“DoD does not have assurance that its body armor provides a standard level of protection,” according to the report.
Army Secretary Peter Geren denied any problems with testing but said the armor is being recalled as a precaution and will be replaced with other plates that are not part of the recall, according to Army officials.