December 15th, 2010
Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., backed off threats today to force a reading of the New START arms-reduction treaty after the White House assailed the delay tactic as a “new low.”
Senate leaders had estimated that a full reading of the accord could take 15 hours, which would have thrown a wrench into ambitious plans to finish work on New START, an omnibus spending bill, and several other pieces of legislation before the Senate adjourns for the year.
With a big agenda and time running down in the lame-duck session, a full reading of the text could have delayed approval of the treaty and possibly forced it into the next legislative session, where it could face more Republican opposition.
Republicans were expected to force the reading after the Senate voted this afternoon, 66-32, to go into executive session to consider the treaty. But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said after the vote that a full reading of the treaty “is not essential.”
The Senate is expected to remain in morning business for the rest of the day, with speeches expected on the treaty. The chamber will formally return to the treaty Thursday morning, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said.
DeMint said earlier today he wanted to force a reading of the treaty “on behalf of a lot of Republicans,” amid concerns that the Senate will not provide enough time for debate on the arms-reduction accord.
“Even supporters of the treaty don’t think they need to jam a major arms agreement through right up against Christmas,” DeMint said, adding that he does not believe the treaty is being treated as the weighty issue it is.
Republicans, he said, are “signing up to watch the floor all night long, if we need to.”
DeMint spokesman Wesley Denton has said DeMint also is concerned by reports that U.S. and Russian officials have floated the idea of cooperation on European missile defense and reports that last spring, Russia had moved tactical nuclear weapons closer to its neighboring NATO countries.
Denton emphasized that debate on the treaty will not formally begin until Thursday, not today as planned.
"Senator DeMint opposes ramming the controversial START Treaty in the lame duck session," Denton said. "After Senator DeMint asked for the entire treaty to be read aloud to slow down the process, Senator Reid relented and agreed to delay the debate until tomorrow."
Jim Manley, a spokesman for Reid, blasted Republicans for playing “political games” and argued that delaying the treaty’s approval undermines national security.
“Every day we delay is another day it is easier for terrorists to get their hands on a nuclear weapon,” Manley said in a statement. “But this tiny minority of Republican senators would rather play games than make sure we have American inspectors on the ground monitoring Russia’s nuclear stockpile.”
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs reiterated previous arguments that the White House has put the treaty through nearly 1,000 questions and 20 Senate hearings. He also said it has received wide bipartisan support, including from every living Republican secretary of State.
The White House remains convinced that they have enough support in the Senate to secure the 67 votes required for ratification of a treaty. Behind the tax deal, it has been a top priority for the administration in the lame duck, receiving more attention than both the Dream Act and a repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
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December 15th, 2010
It seems as though in Austria, the popular yodel is an insult to Muslims.
An Austrian court has recently fined a citizen for yodeling while mowing his lawn, according to a report in The Kronen Zeitung newspaper.
The citizen, 63-year-old Helmut G., was told by the court that his yodeling offended his next-door Muslim neighbors, who accused him of trying to mock and imitate the call of the Muezzin.
In Muslim tradition, the Muezzin is the chosen person at a mosque who leads the call to prayer at Friday services and the five daily times for prayer from one of the mosque's minarets.
The yodel is a song which is sung with an extended note which rapidly and repeatedly changes in pitch and makes a high-low-high-low sound. Developed in the Central Alps as a method of communication between alpine mountaineers or between alpine villages, the yodel later became part of the region's traditional lore and musical expression. The technique is used in many cultures throughout the world and Austria is one of the countries where it is most popular.
Unfortunately for Helmut G., his neighbors were in the middle of a prayer when he started to yodel. The Kronen Zeitung reported that he was fined 800 Euros after judges ruled that he could have tried to offend his neighbors and ridicule their belief.
Helmut G. clarified that “It was not my intention to imitate or insult them. I simply started to yodel a few tunes because I was in such a good mood.”
December 15th, 2010
In urging lawmakers to vote for his tax deal, President Obama is using one of his go-to lines from the healthcare debate, according to a Democratic lawmaker.
Obama is telling members of Congress that failure to pass the tax-cut legislation could result in the end of his presidency, Rep. Peter DeFazio (Ore.) said.
"The White House is putting on tremendous pressure, making phone calls, the president is making phone calls saying this is the end of his presidency if he doesn't get this bad deal," he told CNN's Eliot Spitzer.
But the White House shot back late on Wednesday.
"The president hasn’t said anything remotely like that and has never spoken with Mr. DeFazio about the issue," said White House spokesman Tommy Vietor.
Obama's push shows that the president is going to the mat in order to push through Congress the compromise brokered with Republicans.
During the end of the healthcare debate, Obama reportedly told Democrats upset that the bill did not contain a public healthcare option that not passing it could put his presidency on the line and stall the liberal agenda for decades.
The White House has been aggressively selling the deal, which includes a two-year extension of all the expiring Bush tax cuts in exchange for a 13-month extension of unemployment benefits, to skeptical lawmakers and the public.
The Senate passed the $853 billion legislation by an overwhelming 81-19 margin, sending it to the House.
Though House liberals and some conservatives have voiced opposition to the deal, some opponents have conceded that the likelihood of the deal failing at this juncture is very low.
Still, DeFazio has not been sold.
"I don't feel that way — I think this is potentially the end of his possibility of being reelected if he gets this deal," he said.
Updated 7:11 p.m. and 7:52 p.m. Sam Youngman contributed to this story.
December 15th, 2010
MOSCOW (AFP) – Russia's sharp new military uniforms, created by a top fashion designer, have landed hundreds in the hospital after proving too thin to withstand ferocious winter cold, a state daily said Wednesday.
Rossiyskaya Gazeta reported that between 60 and 250 servicemen have been laid up with everything from flu to pneumonia as Arctic chills sweep through the country's northern reaches.
"They literally felt naked outside," the paper quoted the mother of one solider as saying. "Many of them ended up in hospital. Ours developed pneumonia," she said of her son.
The government daily said defence officials have admitted not receiving complaints about the uniforms in time to do anything ahead of the winter season.
"It seems that all this happened because of slovenliness on our part," Joint Staff General Nikolai Makarov told the daily.
[List: 7 cold and flu myths, debunked]
The field versions, meanwhile, are lighter and come with thinner but more mobile boots.
Russia designed its first post-Soviet uniform in the 1990s, but it was unpopular with officers who complained that it made them look like they were serving in a Third World army.
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December 15th, 2010
From The Tenth Amendment Center
Written by: Bob Greenslade
The preamble to the document known as the Bill of Rights states that the sole purpose of the proposed amendments was to prevent the federal government from “misconstruing or abusing its powers.” To accomplish this, “further declaratory and restrictive clauses” were being recommended.
If the Amendments are broken-down into this declaratory and restrictive clause format, they read as follows:
Congress shall make no law (declaratory)
respecting an establishment of religion, (restrictive) or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof; (restrictive) or
(Congress shall make no law) abridging the freedom (declaratory)
of speech, (restrictive) or
of the press, (restrictive) or
(of) the right of the people peaceably to assemble, (restrictive) and
to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.(restrictive)
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, (declaratory),
the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. (restrictive)
No Soldier shall, (declaratory)
in time of peace (restrictive)
be quartered in any house, (restrictive)
without the consent of the Owner, (restrictive) nor
in time of war, (restrictive)
(be quartered in any house,) (restrictive)
but in a manner to be prescribed by law. (restrictive)
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, (declaratory)
against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated, (restrictive) and
no Warrants shall issue, (declaratory) but
upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, (restrictive) and
particularly describing the place to be searched, (restrictive) and
(particularly describing) the persons or things to be seized. (restrictive)
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, (declaratory) unless
on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, (restrictive)
(No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime) (declaratory)
except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, (restrictive) or
(except) in the Militia, (restrictive)
(except) when in actual service in time of War (restrictive) or
(except) public danger; (restrictive)
nor shall any person be subject for the same offence (twice) to be (declaratory)
twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; (restrictive) nor shall
(nor shall any person) be compelled (declaratory)
in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, (restrictive) nor
(nor shall any person) be deprived of life, liberty, or property, (declaratory)
without due process of law; (restrictive)
nor shall private property be taken for public use, (declaratory)
without just compensation. (restrictive)
In all criminal prosecutions, (restrictive)
the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial (declaratory)
by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, (restrictive)
which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, (declaratory)
and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; (declaratory) and
to (the accused shall) be confronted with the witnesses against him; (declaratory)
to have compulsory process for obtaining Witnesses in his favor, (declaratory) and
to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence. (declaratory)
In Suits at common law, (restrictive)
where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, (restrictive)
the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, (declaratory) and
no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise re-examined (declaratory)
in any Court of the United States, (restrictive) than
according to the rules of the common law. (restrictive)
Excessive bail shall not be required, (restrictive) nor
excessive fines (shall not be) imposed, (restrictive) nor
cruel and unusual punishments (shall not be) inflicted. (restrictive)
The enumeration in the Constitution,(declaratory)
of certain rights, (restrictive) shall
not be construed to deny or disparage others (declaratory)
retained by the people. (restrictive)
The powers not delegated to the United States (declaratory)
by the Constitution, (restrictive) nor
prohibited by it (the Constitution) (declaratory)
to the States, (restrictive) are
reserved to the States respectively, (restrictive) or
(reserved) to the people. (restrictive)
When the Amendments are broken-down into the declaratory and restrictive clause format, they show that every Amendment, without exception, places enumerated restraints on the powers of the federal government to prevent that government from misconstruing or abusing its powers concerning the rights of the people and the powers reserved to the States.
None of the Amendments define or limit the rights of the people or empower the federal government to determine the extent of the people’s rights under the Amendments. Thus, the only power the federal judiciary can have relative to the Bill of Rights is the power to uphold the constitutional restraints imposed on the powers of the federal government by the Amendments. Anything beyond that is a blatant usurpation of power.
Note: This beakdown of the Bill of Rights was a joint effort with Claude Ellsworth.