March 22nd, 2012
The Washington Times / Jacquie Kubin
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
WASHINGTON, March 22, 2012—This may be the end of Rush Limbaugh, if Media Matters and the Liberal left have their way. Founded by journalist David Brock, Media Matters for America is a fully revealed Democratic political operative. Brock created the group with the intent to use its bully pulpit to discredit the Republican Party, its members and any and all conservative media.
Which is perfectly legitimate. Its tactics, however, are less than honorable.
Media Matters for America is a non-profit group, meaning that it enjoys certain tax credits and benefits in its self-described quest as "progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media."
Brock’s most recent actions are two radio advertisements that will air in eight cities in which Limbaugh’s statements in regard to Georgetown University student, and 30-year-old adult, Sandra Fluke’s demand that all insurance providers, employers and academia alike, regardless of religious affiliation or anti-bias, pay for birth control for her and all other women.
Being the spokesperson for yet another Obama policy put Fluke directly in Limbaugh’s sites and removed her legal protection as a private citizen. It is well reported that she is not just “a student” but also a liberal activist.
Brock’s actions have nothing to do with Fluke, or Limbaugh’s statements that weere no more or less objectionable than things routinely uttered by Bill Maher, Michael Moore, Chris Matthews, Ed Schultz, and others, all of whom have slung arrows of hatred calling women and conservatives all manners of epitaphs, including Maher referring to Sarah Palin as a “c***t:
“The bit I did about Palin using the word c-, one of the biggest laughs in my act, I did it all over the country, not one person ever registered disapproval, and believe me, audiences are not afraid to let you know. Because it was a routine where that word came in at just the right moment. Context is very important, and it’s also important to remember that stand-up comedy is the final frontier of free speech.”
Maher hides behind his title of comedian, but he is no less an opinion maker and talk show host than Limbaugh and therefore needs to be held to the same standards.
Ed Schultz called conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham a “slut” without reprisal or conservative talk show hosts demanding that advertisers run for the hills, as Media Matters is demanding that advertisers boycott Rush Limbaugh’s show.
A spokeswoman for Premiere Radio Networks, which syndicates Limbaugh’s show to nearly 600 radio stations nationally, said Media Matters has gone beyond criticism of Limbaugh’s words to an attempt to silence him and intimidate advertisers.
“This is not about women,” said Rachel Nelson, Premiere spokeswoman. “It’s not about ethics and it’s not about the nature of our public discourse. It’s a direct attack on America’s guaranteed First Amendment right to free speech. It’s essentially a call for censorship masquerading as high-minded indignation.”
Angelo Carusone of Media Matters says that ad time is purchased in Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Seattle, Milwaukee, St. Louism Macon, Georgia, and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. These cities were selected to support active local campaigns against Limbaugh, or because of perceptions Limbaugh may be vulnerable to cancellation in these radio markets.
Carusone says that, similar to the campaign against Glenn Beck that led to his separation from Fox Television, by keeping track of Limbaugh’s advertisers Media Matters hopes to influence station managers ‘market by market’ making it not worth the hassle to advertise on the show.
Media Matters, Brock, Carusone and the Democratic/Liberal party members may take Limbaugh down, First Amendment Rights be damned. However they won’t silence the voice of Conservative media or opinion.
Popular host and former GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is launching his own syndicated radio show in April that will air at the same time as Limbaugh’s.
L. Brent Bozell, president and founder of the Media Research Center, has reached out to MSNBC chief Phil Griffin to point out what can only be viewed as the hypocrisy in Media Matters for America and liberal media’s attacks on conservative counterparts.
Citing objectionable things said in the past by Ed Schultz and Al Sharpton, both MSNBC show hosts, Bozell has said “this isn’t about what Rush said last week, it’s about roaring hypocrisy and it’s about censorship.”
Bozell has launched istandwithrush.org to show the group's support for Limbaugh who Bozell says “has been singled out and condemned across the board by the national media.”
In his op-ed on FoxNews.com Bozell says that “liberals want this government-mandate controversy to be not about religious liberty, which is devastating, but about contraceptives, which works in their favor.”
“To the Left,” he writes, “this is simply an opportunity to put their attacks on religious liberty in a feminist frame, and an opportunity to try and shut down Limbaugh. It is all about censorship and hypocrisy.”
“There’s a great sense of selective outrage that is going on here,” Bozell says.
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March 22nd, 2012
BLS Note: Using the term property seizure is correct, in this case, as the Sacketts, and many others, once approached by the EPA, can do nothing with their property and will be fined tremendous amounts of money by the EPA.
Congratulations to the Sacketts and thank you to the Supremes, all nine, for upholding the most basic of US Liberties as sacrosanct.
Nashville Business Journal
by Kent Hoover, Washington Bureau Chief
It unanimously ruled Wednesday that Mike and Chantell Sackett have the right to challenge an EPA decision that their lot near an Idaho lake was a wetland subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act. The couple had filled part of their lot with dirt and rock in order to build a house there. The EPA ordered them to stop construction and restore the land to its original condition.
The Sacketts asked the agency to reconsider its decision, but the agency rejected their request. The couple then attempted to contest the EPA decision in court, but lower-court judges ruled the EPA’s compliance orders are not subject to judicial review.
The justices on the U.S. Supreme Court disagreed.
"There is no reason to think that the Clean Water Act was uniquely designed to enable the strong-arming of regulated parties into ‘voluntary compliance’ without the opportunity for review -- even judicial review of the question whether the regulated party is within the EPA's jurisdiction," wrote Justice Antonin Scalia.
The National Federation of Independent Business , which filed an amicus brief in support of the Sacketts, said the court's decision in Sackett v. EPA was a major victory for small business owners.
"Property rights are of enormous import to the hundreds of thousands of small business owners who rely on their property for the success of their businesses," said Karen Harned, executive director of NFIB’s Small Business Legal Center. "In ruling [Wednesday] that individuals can challenge the EPA in court before being penalized or forced into compliance, the justices have assured landowners that their constitutional right to seek judicial review of government orders is inalienable. The extraordinary costs, administrative burdens and other punitive measures that can cripple small businesses are no longer an inevitability for the men and women of Main Street."
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March 22nd, 2012
Christian Science Monitor
Bemused curiosity turned into worry and aggravation for families in a small Wisconsin town longing for peace and quiet after three nights of mysterious booming noises that have sent some residents into the streets — sometimes still in their pajamas.
The strange disturbance sounds like distant thunder, fireworks, or someone slamming a heavy door. At first, many people were amused. But after a third restless night Tuesday into Wednesday, exasperation was mounting. And some folks are considering leaving town until investigators determine the source of the racket.
"My husband thought it was cool, but I don't think so. This is not a joke," said Jolene Van Beek, who awoke early Sunday to a loud boom that shook her house. "I don't know what it is, but I just want it to stop."
The booming in Clintonville continued Monday and Tuesday nights and into Wednesday morning, eventually prompting Van Beek to take her three sons to her father's home, 10 minutes away, so they could get some uninterrupted sleep.
If the number of phone calls to police is any indication, it was a relatively quiet night Wednesday. Police received several calls early Thursday morning, compared to more than 100 overnight Sunday to Monday when the racket began.
About 300 people attended a public meeting Wednesday night in a local high school auditorium to get an update on the situation. City Administrator Lisa Kuss (KOOS) assured residents that officials are doing everything they can to determine the source of the booming. But they still don't know what's behind the mysterious booms.
There have been no reports of injury, despite some residents saying they could feel the ground roll beneath their feet.
City officials say they have investigated every possible human cause. They checked water, sewer and gas lines, contacted the military about any exercises in the area, reviewed permits for mining explosives and inspected a dam next to City Hall. They even tested methane levels at the landfill in case the gas was spontaneously exploding.
"People in the area are certainly frustrated," City Administrator Lisa Kuss said.
The city is also investigating geological causes. Officials plan to bring in vibration-detection devices to try to determine the epicenter of any underground activity.
Authorities set up audio and video equipment overnight but didn't capture any evidence of shaking or booming despite at least one loud noise about 5 a.m. Wednesday, Kuss said.
About 300 people attended a public meeting Wednesday night in a local high school auditorium to get an update on the situation. Kuss assured residents that officials are doing everything they can to determine the source of the booming.
Sharon Binger said the disturbance has left cracks in her basement walls and floor, and that they're getting worse. She said her insurance company won't pay for the damage until she knows what caused it.
"This is an issue," she said, demanding answers from officials at the meeting. "There is something else going on."
Kuss urged Binger to write down when the cracks occurred and promised to send officials to the woman's home to look over the damage.
Debby Ernst has not heard the sound or felt the tremors but said she is still considering going elsewhere until the mystery is solved.
"It worries me. I'm scared," Ernst, a gas station cashier, said in a phone interview. "Who's to say it ain't going to get worse?"
However, a local scientist said nothing has surfaced that suggests townspeople should be afraid.
Steve Dutch, a geologist at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, said the ground beneath them is solid, and that there are no known earthquake fault lines in the area.
Dutch said he heard some people worrying that a sinkhole might open up and swallow homes. That can happen in areas where the ground is rich with limestone and other rocks that can be dissolved by water, he said. But the rock below Clintonville is mainly solid granite that's largely impermeable.
However, he speculated that water and granite could hold the key to the mystery. Granite has small cracks that water can fill, but if the underground water table falls especially low, water can seep out, leaving gaps that cause the rocks to settle and generate loud noises.
"Maybe the very dry winter caused more water to be removed from the water table, either through pumping or natural flow," he said.
A seismic station near Clintonville, a town of about 4,600 people about 40 miles west of Green Bay, has recorded unusual ground shaking since Sunday night. Scientists say such activity can be caused by mining and heavy truck traffic, but since there are no mines or major construction in the area, the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey will take a closer look at the data.
Some residents are having fun with the mystery, which has drawn media attention from around the nation.
Jordan Pfeiler said people stayed up late on the first two nights to walk around listening for booms. They came up with outlandish theories to explain the noise — for example, that the White House was building an underground bunker in the area or that mole men had found a home there.
"And the aliens, of course, there's always the aliens," she said.
Van Beek understands the temptation to crack jokes, but it's no laughing matter to her.
"Everything people think it is has been ruled out. They just don't have answers," she said. "At this point all I want is for it to stop."
Other strange sounds heard round the world
Dinesh Ramde reported from Milwaukee. He can be reached at dramde(at)ap.org.
March 21st, 2012
The largest laser in the world was turned on for a fraction of a second last week -- and it unleashed the most powerful laser blast in history.
The National Ignition Facility (NIF) -- a laser test facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif. -- turned on its 192 laser beams for a brief instant on March 15, unleashing a record-setting 1.875-megajoule blast into a target chamber.
The lasers were combined, gathered and focused through a series of lens into a 2.03-megajoule shot, said Ed Moses, NIF director -- a record for the facility.
That pulse of energy lasted for just 23 billionths of a second, yet it generated 411 trillion watts of power, NIF said -- 1,000 times more than the entire United States consumes at any given instant.
“It’s a remarkable demonstration of the laser from the standpoint of its energy, its precision, its power, and its availability,” Moses told Nature magazine.
But it’s barely half the battle. NIF hopes to dramatically increase the power of the laser shots by the end of year, intending to ultimately use the facility to harness the energy reaction that occurs naturally within the sun: fusion.
“This event marks a key milestone in the National Ignition Campaign’s drive toward fusion ignition,” Moses said.
In fission, atoms are split and the massive energy released is captured. The NIF aims for fusion, the ongoing energy process in the sun and other stars where hydrogen and helium nuclei are continually fusing and releasing enormous amounts of energy. In the ignition facility, beams of light converge on pellets of hydrogen isotopes to create a similar, though controlled, micro-explosion.
As the beams move through a series of amplifiers, their energy increases exponentially. From beginning to end, the beams' total energy grows from one-billionth of a joule to a potential high of four million joules, NIF said -- a factor of more than a quadrillion.
And it all happens in about five millionths of a second.
Because the laser is on for the merest fraction of a second, it costs little to operate -- between $5 and $20 per blast, said spokeswoman Lynda Seaver. But the potential is enormous.
NIF’s managers hope by the end of the year to reach a break-even point, where the energy released is equal to if not greater than the energy that went into the blast.
“We have all the capability to make it happen in fiscal year 2012,” Moses told Nature.
Experts aren't so sure, citing challenges that NIF and other types of fusion have had in the past.
Glen Wurden, a plasma physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, told Nature scientists should be wary of putting all their eggs in the laser basket.
“It’s premature right now,” he told the magazine, citing the troubles that have plagued a competing approach to fusion and its flagship project in France.
March 21st, 2012
Terrorist Killed Jewish School Children
Explosions have been heard outside an apartment in Toulouse as French police sought to end a 24-hour siege involving a gunman accused of killing seven people.
Self-declared al Qaeda militant Mohammed Merah has been holed up in the ground floor property since the early hours of Wednesday.
Negotiations have continued all day but Merah reportedly said he would surrender at night "to be more discreet".
Deputy mayor of Toulouse had said an assault on the building had begun - a claim then denied by interior ministry official Pierre-Henry Brandet.
Mr Brandet said: "They were moves to intimidate the gunman who seems to have changed his mind and does not want to surrender. There is no assault."
Mohammed Merah as shown in undated video aired on France 2 tv channel
Explosions rocked the district of the southwestern city and orange flashes lit up the sky.
Reuters new agency cites a police source as saying the blasts blew open the door of Merah's apartment but local French media reported that the wanted man was still inside.
There were also reports of gunfire at the site. Merah is thought to be armed with a Kalashnikov assault rifle, a Mini-Uzi submachine pistol and a collection of handguns.
Street lighting in the area was turned off earlier as officers continued to surround the apartment block.
The 23-year-old, a French national of Algerian descent, is suspected of killing three Jewish schoolchildren, a rabbi and three paratroopers in a wave of attacks in southern France in recent days.
He has reportedly told police that he carried out the murders to "avenge Palestinian children".
He had also admitted that he planned to kill a soldier on Wednesday morning.
"This will not last for days, because of physical and mental fatigue. All the experience with crazed gunmen like this is that they stop at some point," defence minister Gerard Longuet said on TF1 television.
"What we want is to capture him alive, so that we can bring him to justice, know his motivations and hopefully find out who were his accomplices, if there were any," he added.
President Nicolas Sarkozy has said Merah wanted to bring the nation "to its knees".
The politician, speaking at a memorial service for three soldiers killed by the gunman last week, said the killer had failed to divide France.
The scooter allegedly used in the attacks has been seized by police.
The French prosecutor handling the case, Francois Molins, said Merah had been to Afghanistan twice and had trained in the militant stronghold of Waziristan.
His brother, who has been arrested, had been implicated in a network sending fighters to Iraq.
A car belonging to him has also been seized after it was said to contain explosives.
Mr Molins told reporters the US army sent Mohammed Merah back to France after he was arrested in Afghanistan.
Afghan police apparently detained the man at a road checkpoint and handed him over to the US army "who put him on the first plane headed to France," he said.
He also apparently told French media that he has video footage showing his killing sprees and that he is planning to post them online.
Mr Molins said the suspect "expresses no regret, only that he didn't have time to have more victims. And he even bragged, he said, of bringing France to its knees".
Shots rang out at the start of the operation this morning after officers spoke to the suspect at the door. At least two policemen were injured in the gunfire.
france shootings: what we know about the gunman
Terrified neighbours were evacuated from their flats roughly nine hours after the siege began.
The suspect threw a handgun out of the window in exchange for a communications device but still had other weapons.
He told police he is a "mujahideen" or Islamic warrior fighting to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children killed in conflict with Israel.
The French government said its intelligence services had been tracking him for years.
Merah had a criminal record and was in trouble with the police as a juvenile.
French interior minister Claude Gueant said: "This person has made trips to Afghanistan and Pakistan in the past... and says he belongs to al Qaeda and says he wanted to avenge Palestinian children and to attack the French army. He has links with people involved in jihadism and Salafism (a strict branch of Islam)."
Read Tim Marshall's piece on clues left by the suspect
Later he added: "He had for several years been tracked by the DCRI (French intelligence agency) and its agents in Toulouse but there was never anything to suggest that he was preparing a criminal act."
The Palestinian premier Salam Fayyad has strongly condemned the suspect's claim he was acting to avenge Palestinian children.
"It is time for these criminals to stop marketing their terrorist acts in the name of Palestine and to stop pretending to stand up for the rights of Palestinian children who only ask for a decent life," he said.
Officers brought the suspect's mother to the scene and tried to get her to help in the negotiations but she refused, saying she had "little influence" over him.
The suspect's mother, brother and the brother's girlfriend have been arrested.
Explosives were found in the brother's car, police said.
Neighbours leaving the cordoned off area said he is on the ground floor of a small building in what is usually a quiet housing estate.
Wafia Bendali, 26, who lives on the third floor of the building, said: "We heard gunfire three times, and we turned on the television. Then, the police phoned to say to stay in the house."
Another neighbour, Farida Boumama, 48, said her family woke up to voices at 3am and heard gunfire an hour later.
"I went to open the window to look out and police shouted, 'Go inside and close the shutters,'" she said.
Jonathan Sandler, his sons Arieh and Gabriel, and Miriam Monsonego
One resident told French radio: "They've got to get us out of here. They've got to come and get us."
Talking very quietly and crying in panic on the phone to France Info, she said: "Nobody is coming to help us. Nobody is helping us. We've been like this, terrified, since 3am."
Another told how the police climbed across her balcony, telling her: "Stay in your apartment. Do not go out - it's dangerous."
France launched one of the biggest manhunts the country has ever seen following the deaths of three children and a teacher at a Jewish school on Monday.
A gunman riding a scooter attacked the Ozar Hatorah school in broad daylight just as pupils were arriving.
It was soon linked to two separate shootings in nearby Montauban earlier this month in which three French soldiers were killed and another seriously injured.
All of the soldiers killed were of North African descent and police have said the three attacks were all carried out by an assailant using the same gun and scooter.
The four victims of the school shooting were buried at a Jerusalem cemetery today after being flown to Israel.
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