Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) recently vetoed two pro-gun bills, one of which would have allowed people to carry guns into public buildings.
HB 2339 would have allowed gun owners with valid conceal carry permits to bring their guns inside a pubic building unless there were security guards, metal detectors and storage for the guns at each entrance, which many public buildings do not have, noted the Arizona Daily Star (video below).
“I am a strong proponent of the Second Amendment, and I have signed into law numerous pieces of legislation to advance and protect gun rights,” Gov. Brewer said. “However, I cannot support this measure in its proposed form.”
Gov. Brewer claimed the bill was an "unfunded mandate" that would force local city governments in the state to hire security guards and buy equipment.
The other bill that Gov. Brewer vetoed, HB 2517, would have limited local governments from passing any gun control laws that were stricter than Arizona state law. Local officials would have been fined $5,000 and possibly fired from their jobs. That bill would not allow public funds to be used to defend the officials who broke the law.
Gerry Hills, a member of Arizonans for Gun Safety, supported the vetoes.
"Lawmakers are far too concerned about pandering to the gun lobby, and for the most part they are out of touch with mainstream Republicans and mainstream Arizonans," Hills told AZCentral.com.
"For instance, libraries, which is a place where children and families and vulnerable populations go all the time, that's a burden to put in metal detectors and armed security guards," added Hills. "It's not the environment we want for our public buildings."
A watchdog report revealed that IRS employees who had been disciplined for tax and conduct issues received time off and monetary awards over a two-year period. While most IRS workers paid federal taxes like everyone else, some did not or had other disciplinary citations, but were rewarded anyways.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration published the report on Tuesday.
"While not prohibited, providing awards to employees who have been disciplined for failing to pay federal taxes appears to create a conflict with the IRS’s charge of ensuring the integrity of the system of tax administration,” said Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George.
2,800 employees were found to have been disciplined, including for failure to comply with federal tax regulations, in the two-year period between October 1, 2010 to December 31, 2012. Yet they received awards totaling over $2.8 million and 27,000 hours of time off.
The IRS responded to the report with a statement saying that it was already changing its policy to clearly link conduct with performance bonuses for executives and senior level employees.
"Even without a formal policy in place over the past four years, the IRS has not issued awards to any executives that were subject to a disciplinary action," the IRS said in a statement. "We are also considering a similar policy for the entire IRS workforce, which would be subject to negotiations with the National Treasury Employees Union."
The Washington Post reports that last year, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) sponsored a bill to have federal employees fired who had a incurred “seriously delinquent” tax debt, but it died in the House.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Republican, recently said that he would "never" legalize marijuana as the state of Colorado has done.
During an appearance on the "Ask the Governor" radio program on New Jersey 101.5 yesterday, Christie was asked by a caller if he supported making marijuana legal (video below).
“I am not going to be the governor who is going to tell our children and young adults that marijuana use is okay because it’s not. Not even in casual use,” Christie said to the caller.
“You say it’s going to come down the road," added Christie. "You know it may come down the road when I’m gone. It’s not going to come while I’m here.”
Christie also slammed Colorado, which has legalized marijuana, causing some parents to move there for medical marijuana treatments for their children, reported USA Today and Penn Live.
However, Christie ignored the medicinal purposes and tried to paint Colorado as "head shops popping up on every corner," noted CNN.
“For the people who are enamored with the idea with the income, the tax revenue from this, go to Colorado and see if you want to live there,” Christie stated. “See if you want to live in a major city in Colorado where there’s head shops popping up on every corner and people flying into your airport just to come and get high.”
“To me, it’s just not the quality of life we want to have here in the state of New Jersey and there’s no tax revenue that’s worth that,” added Christie.
He failed to mention that New Jersey's "quality of life" includes the country's second-highest state tax, while Colorado has no state income tax.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has said that he may limit deportations of undocumented immigrants who have not been convicted of serious crimes.
CBS reports via the Associated Press that on President Barack Obama’s orders, Johnson is reviewing U.S. deportation policy with the aim of lessening the number of deportations. The change could protect tens of thousands of immigrants who are sent back to their native countries because of immigration violations, like re-entering the country.
Two people have confirmed the possible change, including John Sandweg, former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The other is an immigration advocate who asked to remain anonymous because of the confidential nature of the discussions. Neither would comment on specifics.
Obama has come under fire from immigration advocates for not doing enough to reform the system. The Obama administration is responsible for deporting more immigrants than any other.
Deportations of immigrants who have no criminal records, or have only been convicted of minor crimes, have specifically come under scrutiny. A recent Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse report found that only 1 percent of deportees from 2013 were drug traffickers, while most were convicted of minor crimes like traffic violations, immigration violations, or marijuana possession. Most had no criminal record at all.
The policy review wouldn’t have the impact of the legislation overhaul that immigration advocates are calling for, but it may be a start.
"The only way to truly fix it is through congressional action," Obama told reporters on Thursday. "We have already tried to take as many administrative steps as we could. We're going to review it one more time to see if there's more that we can do to make it more consistent with common sense and more consistent with, I think, the attitudes of the American people, which is we shouldn't be in the business necessarily of tearing families apart who otherwise are law-abiding."
E. Ray Moore, a Republican candidate running for South Carolina Lieutenant Governor, warned Christian parents at an April 12 "Liberty Rally" in Charleston, S.C. about the dangers of public schools, which he referred to as “Pharaoh’s school system.”
“We cannot win this war we’re in as long as we keep handing our children over to the enemy to educate,” said Moore, noted RawStory.com (video below).
“It’s fundamentally and largely responsible because of the public school system we’ve had six or seven generations, when most of us have put our children in the godless, pagan school system," added Moore.
"It cannot be fixed, the socialistic model, and we need to abandon that," said Moore. "As conservatives and Christians, if you think you’re going to win this war you’re in, and leave your children in those schools, it will not happen.”
The GOP candidate is a former chaplain for the Army Reserves and the founder of Exodus Mandate, which describes itself as "a Christian ministry to encourage and assist Christian families to leave Pharaoh’s (government) school system for the Promised Land of Christian schools or homeschooling."
Moore told the conspiracy website WorldNet Daily that his campaign will "focus on a restoration of pro-life, pro-family, pro-private, Christian and home education and pro-sound money (or a return to the gold standard) principles."
He does not support South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (R) spending $160 million on the education of poor children and classroom technology, which Moore calls “a failing public school system.”
In June 2012, the GOP-controlled House voted to hold U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for failing to provide some information regarding Operation Fast and Furious, a program that began under the Bush administration.
Earlier this month, Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder had a tense exchange during a House committee hearing that recalled the contempt vote, notes The Daily Caller (video below).
“I realize that contempt is not a big deal to our attorney general, but it is important that we have proper oversight,” said Gohmert. "Don't go there," replied Holder.
During an appearance on the Family Research Council’s Washington Watch radio show last Friday, Gohmert expressed eagerness in having Holder arrested (audio below), reports RightWingWatch.org.
However, neither Gohmert or Family Research Council head Tony Perkins called for Bush White House aide Karl Rove to be arrested when he ignored a congressional subpoena in 2008, reported CNN.
"When you have someone like an attorney general who is in contempt of Congress, what can we do?" said Gohmert. "Someone in contempt of Congress comes waltzing into the House chamber and he’s in contempt of Congress as found by the Congress, what can be done?"
"I was told that actually you can pass a resolution directing the sergeant at arms to detain anyone who is in contempt of Congress until such time as they comply with the requirement that put him in contempt," added Gohmert. "In this case, they didn’t provide information from the Justice Department, they had it, they refused to provide it, we found him in contempt."
Later in the broadcast, Gohmert stated, "But apparently another option would be to direct a sergeant at arms, somebody comes into our jurisdiction at Capitol Hill, you restrain them until such time, and there is a cell there on Capitol Hill."
In 2010, President Barack Obama identified himself as an African-American when he filled out a U.S. census form.
According to The Huffington Post, Obama checked a box that read, "Black, African Am., or Negro."
However, 52 percent of Americans said in a new poll by the Pew Research Center that Obama is of mixed race, and 27 percent claimed he is black, reports The Hill.
Obama, whose mother was white and whose father was black, was identified as being of mixed race by 61 percent of Hispanics.
The Washington Post notes that 55 percent of African-Americans think Obama is black. Fifty-three percent of whites believe he is of mixed race.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee insisted yesterday that while he opposes gay marriage, he is "not homophobic."
During a speech to the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, the possible 2016 GOP presidential candidate said, "I'm not against anybody. I'm really not. I'm not a hater. I'm not homophobic. I honestly don’t care what people do personally in their individual lives."
According to CNN (video below), Huckabee added, "But when people say, ‘Why don’t you just kind of get on the right side of history?’ I said, ‘You’ve got to understand, this for me is not about the right side or the wrong side of history, this is the right side of the Bible, and unless God rewrites it, edits it, sends it down with his signature on it, it’s not my book to change.’ Folks, that’s why I stand where I stand."
TalkingPointsMemo.com reports that Huckabee was upset that the U.S. Supreme Court would not hear a case of a Christian photographer who refused to provide services for a gay wedding.
"Why is it that Christians stand back and take it in the teeth time and time and time again?" Huckabee said. "But we cannot change this country if we do not rise up and vote with an informed mind and a committed spirit and if we're not willing to stand along."
James Mitchell, a CIA psychologist who is often referred to as the architect of the CIA's “enhanced interrogation” program, recently defended the use torture by the CIA on terrorist suspects.
A soon-to-be-released Senate intelligence committee report on CIA torture says the CIA's interrogation methods weren’t approved by the U.S. Justice Department or CIA headquarters, and that members of the CIA knowingly impeded the Bush White House and Congressional oversight, as well as oversight by the CIA’s Inspector General’s Office, notes McClatchy DC.
The report also says that the CIA's use of waterboarding, stress positions, sleep deprivation, confinement of suspects in a box and slamming suspects into wall did not yield any useful information.
However, Mitchell told The Guardian in a recent interview, "The people on the ground did the best they could with the way they understood the law at the time. You can't ask someone to put their life on the line and think and make a decision without the benefit of hindsight and then eviscerate them in the press 10 years later.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) says the Senate report “exposes brutality that stands in stark contrast to our values as a nation" and "chronicles a stain on our history that must never again be allowed to happen.”
In response, Mitchell told The Guardian: “I’m skeptical about the Senate report, because I do not believe that every analyst whose jobs and promotions depended upon it, who were professional intelligence experts, all them lied to protect a program? All of them were wrong? All of these [CIA] directors were wrong? All of the people who were using the intel to go get people were wrong? And 10 years later a Senate staffer was able to put it together and finally there’s clarity? I am just highly skeptical that that’s the truth.”
However, the Senate report doesn't say that "every" CIA analyst lied "to protect a program" as Mitchell claims.
Mitchell still insists that the torture techniques he created did produce results, even though he couldn't present any actual proof.
Mitchell even went as far as to claim that the torture techniques used by the CIA were "not illegal based on the law at the time."
However, the torture techniques were never legal under U.S. law, but were deemed legal by a Bush administration memo in August 2002, months after Mitchell and fellow psychologist Bruce Jessen had already started creating torture techniques in December 2001 and training the CIA in torture in March 2002, noted Salon.com.
Even the FBI objected to the CIA’s interrogation of terrorist suspect Abu Zubaydah in March 2002, calling it “borderline torture.”
Amazingly, Mitchell claims to be a supporter of Amnesty International, which has condemned the CIA and the U.S. for years for the very torture Mitchell created, trained others to do and implemented.
Mitchell denied any involvement in the torture in 2009 after a Senate Armed Services Committee report named him and Jessen.
“We didn't have a damn thing to do with that,” said Mitchell. Instead, he blamed Pentagon contractors and civilians “who wanted to help out and made some dumb mistakes."
Steven Kleinman, an Air Force Colonel who stopped abusive interrogations in Iraq, slammed Mitchell's logic.
Kleinman told The Guardian, “Why would anybody think that a model that would produce those outcomes would also be effective in producing the opposite?"
According to a new study, mass deportations are a direct result of the drug war, which sends foreign residents home on minor, non-violent charges.
A just-released report by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University analyzing the effects of the Secure Communities program, a surveillance initiative by the U.S. government meant to track violent non-citizens, finds that the program has overwhelmingly targeted non-violent drug offenders.
The report examines the reasons behind the 40,000 drug-related deportations that have taken place every year since 2008. A total of almost 250,000 people have been deported for nonviolent drug offenses in the past six years.
Nonviolent drug offenses accounted for 11 percent of total deportations in 2013, and 19 percent of criminal deportations, the analysis found.
Furthermore, marijuana possession specifically proved to be a major cause of deportation. It was the most common cause of drug-related deportations, and the fourth most common for any criminal deportation. 6,600 people were deported each year the last two years for possessing marijuana.
The focus of these deportations is not on violent drug traffickers, the report notes.
“Convictions for drug trafficking accounted for only one percent of deportees recorded as convicted of a crime,” the report’s authors write, “while marijuana possession was more than three times that level.”
A series of Huffington Post infographics shows that marijuana possessions leads cocaine possession, cocaine sale, and assault in the top ten serious criminal convictions of deportees in 2013. More than three times as many people were deported for marijuana possession as for drug trafficking.
The Supreme Court ruled in April of last year that immigrants could not be automatically deported because of minor drug offenses.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor said in her opinion that possessing a small amount of marijuana wasn’t enough to automatically send someone out of the country, siding with defendant Adrian Moncrieffe, a long-time U.S. resident from Jamaica who wanted to contest his deportation after being found with a small amount of pot.