January 2nd, 2012
BY Joyce Chen
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Kathy Griffin isn't known to have much of a filter, and on Saturday night's CNN New Year's Eve broadcast, the comedienne shed any remaining inhibitions - and her clothes.
Griffin, who cohosted the live coverage of the Times Square ball drop with Anderson Cooper, appeared feisty throughout the night, but she had one move up her sleeve that even Cooper couldn't have predicted.
As the camera cut away to shots of revelers and the Swarovski crystal ball, Griffin quickly stripped down to her bra and panties, startling Cooper and sending him into a fit of nervous giggles.
"Are you freaking kidding me?" Cooper asked, trying to compensate for an uncomfortable situation.
He then waved a "No Nudity" sign in Griffin's face.
Despite the best efforts of Cooper's crew to cover her up, however, Griffin refused to get dressed, instead waving to partygoers in Times Square and flirting with CNN contributor and former presidential adviser David Gergen.
"You're a big square who won't let me have any fun," Griffin taunted a nervous Cooper, trying to get him to follow suit. "Your turn!"
Only after Cooper cut to a back-and-forth with correspondent Gary Tuchman and his 14-year-old daughter in Central Park did Griffin finally get dressed.
But don't expect the razor-tongued comedienne to apologize for her antics anytime soon.
"I have a no-apology policy," Griffin told CBS news. "No apologies for jokes. I apologize in my real life all the time. I say ridiculous things, I make mistakes constantly.
"But when I'm on stage, I'm at a microphone ... it's a joke!"
More from the NY Daily News
January 2nd, 2012
By BRIAN STELTER
His comments were significant not only because Mr. Murdoch controls Fox News Channel and The Wall Street Journal, but also because they were made on Twitter, a Web site that allowed for his support to be forwarded far and wide on the eve of the Iowa caucuses. Mr. Santorum was a paid analyst for Fox News before he announced his bid for the presidency last year.
Mr. Murdoch seemed to stop short of an outright endorsement. “Can’t resist this tweet,” he wrote, “but all Iowans think about Rick Santorum.” It was unclear if he was saying that all Iowa voters are thinking about Mr. Santorum, or should be thinking about him.
Mr. Murdoch started to post on Twitter on Saturday, surprising some of the tens of thousands of people who have followed his account since then. The account, @rupertmurdoch, was labeled as verified by Twitter, a step taken by the company to indicate when celebrities and politicians are the owners of accounts. When asked on Monday if Mr. Murdoch — a computer neophyte — is indeed on Twitter, his top spokeswoman, Teri Everett, said, “Oh, yes.”
One of Mr. Murdoch’s first messages on Twitter praised a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Ron Paul as “great.” “Huge appeal of libertarian message,” he added.
On Sunday, he singled out Mr. Santorum for more specific praise. “Good to see santorum surging in Iowa,” he wrote. “Regardless of policies, all debates showed principles, consistency and humility like no other.”
In the past the editorial pages of The New York Post and, more recently, The Wall Street Journal have been perceived to be Mr. Murdoch’s platforms for supporting (and sometimes punishing) political candidates. Twitter, of course, gives him a new and much more personal forum to do so.
Mr. Murdoch’s arguably most influential media outlet, Fox News, employed Mr. Santorum for years, but suspended him in March when he was considering running for president. The suspension was made permanent in May after Mr. Santorum agreed to attend a Fox-sponsored debate for Republican candidates.
Despite being a former Fox employee, Mr. Santorum has spoken critically of the network a few times, including as recently as Monday morning. Speaking to the radio host Mike Gallagher, Mr. Santorum said the media had “completely tried to shape this race.”
“It’s not just the liberal media, I mean, it’s even Fox News,” Mr. Santorum said, adding, “You know, Bill O’Reilly has refused to put me on his program.”
On his Fox News broadcast on Monday night, Mr. O’Reilly acknowledged Mr. Santorum’s recent rise in the polls and said, “We have invited Rick Santorum to appear on Wednesday.”
More Politics News from the NY Times
January 2nd, 2012
The Heritage Foundation
Let's be honest: We all know you're not really gonna quit smoking, start exercising, and eat more vegetables as of today. As Emerson wryly remarked: "All promise outruns performance."
The key to keeping your New Year's resolutions is to make them more realistic. Rather than try to drastically change the way you live, why not start with the more modest goal of changing the way you speak? And what better place to start for conservatives than with America's Founding principles?
As conservatives continue to rediscover the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, it is important to use words and embrace ideas that are consistent with our Founding principles.
If you're fond of the term "states' rights," have a soft spot for nullification, are tempted by isolationism or are wary of equality, here are four simple resolutions to begin getting right with America's principles. Once you have these down, you can start correcting your friends and move on to other core concepts.
1. Speak of Federalism, not "States' Rights"
States don't have rights. People do.
States have powers. Nowhere in the Constitution are states said to possess rights. Congress has certain powers, clearly enumerated in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, and the conservative-favorite Tenth Amendment makes clear that all the other powers are reserved to the states.
Not only is it incorrect to speak of states' rights, but the expression has more baggage than Samsonite and Louis Vuitton combined. In case you didn't know, "states' rights" was the rallying cry of segregationists. Since no right-thinking conservative will keep company with such people, let's just drop the term states' rights once and for all.
If you're concerned about federal encroachments on state sovereignty or the erosion of federalism--as you should be--then speak of federal encroachments on state sovereignty or the erosion of federalism. Or of the need to restore limited constitutional government, reinvigorate local self-government, decentralize power or check the growth of out-of-control government. With so many great formulations to choose from, why weaken the case for liberty by relying on "states'" rights?
2. Resist the Nullification Temptation
Are you unhappy with the constitutional abomination called Obamacare? Do you think that Congress has no power to compel you to purchase health insurance?
Good. Now encourage the repeal of the law or wait and see what mood Justice Anthony Kennedy will be in next June when the Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of Obamacare.
But please don't start talking about nullification as the magical silver bullet that other conservatives somehow overlooked in their efforts to repeal Obamacare (or any other unconstitutional law, for that matter).
Nullification is blatantly unconstitutional. As James Madison pointed out in 1798, 1800 and again during the Nullification Crisis of 1832, individual states do not have the power to unilaterally declare federal legislation unconstitutional. They have the power--in fact, the duty--to challenge laws they deem objectionable, but this must be done within the existing constitutional framework. Let us behold a republican remedy, as Madison would say, to this federal overreach.
3. Isolationism is un-American
Unless you're describing the Tokugawa Shogunate in Japan or the hermit kingdom of North Korea, "isolationism" should be eliminated from conservative foreign policy discussions.
As a nation dedicated to the universal truth of human equality, America simply cannot withdraw from the world and be indifferent to the fate of liberty. American exceptionalism is fundamentally incompatible with isolationism. More so than any other country, we have a duty to stand for liberty.
And no, the Founders were not isolationists. The Heritage Foundation's Marion Smith has written the definitive refutation of this bogus argument in "The Myth of Isolationism."
So if we're not isolationists, does that mean we're interventionists who want to make the world "safe for democracy"? Of course not. There is a middle ground between naive isolationism and crusading interventionism: a distinctively American foreign policy, anchored in the principles of the Founding, that secures our interests all the while upholding our commitment to liberty--a commitment which need not necessarily translate into military interventions.
4. Equality is not a four-letter word
Seeing how the Left blathers on incessantly about inequality and dreams of a Harrison Bergersonesque America, some conservatives are wary of equality. Yet no word is more central to the American tradition which we uphold than equality.
Equality is the first self-evident truth proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence and ours is a country "dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal." By this, of course, we mean equal natural rights and the equal opportunities afforded by free markets and the rule of law.
The real tragedy of inequality in America is not that some earn more than others--class envy is something that afflicts Europeans, not Americans. Rather, it is that big government breeds what Paul Ryan calls "a class of bureaucrats and connected crony capitalists trying to rise above the rest of us, call the shots, rig the rules, and preserve their place atop society."
Let us therefore reclaim the mantle of equality from those who've perverted it in the pursuit of equal outcomes.
More From Heritage
- David Azerrad is Assistant Director, B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics.
January 2nd, 2012
By MIKE BAKER
MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK, Wash. (AP) — A plane searching the slopes of Mount Rainier National Park for an Iraq War veteran suspected in the slaying of a park ranger found a body believed to be his lying face down in chest-deep snow Monday, authorities said.
It could be several hours before authorities reach the body. While they haven't identified the body, they believe it is that of 24-year-old Benjamin Colton Barnes.
"Obviously the strong probability is that it is" the gunman, Pierce County Sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer said.
Barnes is believed to have fled to the remote park to hide after an earlier shooting at a New Year's house party near Seattle that wounded four, two critically. Authorities suspect he shot ranger Margaret Anderson later Sunday.
Police cleared out the park of visitors and mounted a manhunt for Barnes, who was believed to have weapons and survivalist training. The body was found face down, Washington State Patrol spokesman Guy Gill said.
Barnes has had a troubled transition to civilian life, with accusations he suffers post-traumatic stress disorder and is suicidal.
He was involved in a custody dispute in July, during which his toddler daughter's mother sought a temporary restraining order against him, according to court documents. The woman told authorities he was suicidal and possibly suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after deploying to Iraq in 2007-2008, and had once sent her a text message saying "I want to die."
She alleged that he gets easily irritated, angry and depressed and keeps an arsenal of weapons in his home. She wrote that she feared for the child's safety. Undated photos provided by police showed a shirtless, tattooed Barnes brandishing two large weapons.
In November 2011, a guardian ad litem recommended parenting and communication classes for both parents and recommending Barnes be allowed to continue supervised visits with the child, two days a week. That visitation schedule was to continue until he completed a domestic violence evaluation and mental health evaluation and complied with all treatment recommendations.
On New Year's, there was an argument at a house party in Skyway, south of Seattle, and gunfire erupted, police said. Barnes was connected to the shooting, said Sgt. Cindi West, King County Sheriff's spokeswoman.
Two of the three people who fled the scene were located. West said authorities were trying to find Barnes and had been in contact with his family to ask them to convince him to step forward and "tell his side of the story."
At Mount Rainier around 10:20 a.m. Sunday, the gunman had sped past a checkpoint to make sure vehicles have tire chains, which are sometimes necessary in snowy conditions, Bacher said.
One ranger began following him while Anderson, a 34-year-old mother of two young children who was married to another Mount Rainier park ranger, eventually blocked the road to stop the driver. Before fleeing, the gunman fired shots at both Anderson and the ranger that trailed him, but only Anderson was hit.
Anderson would have been armed, as she was one of the rangers tasked with law enforcement, parks spokesman Kevin Bacher said. Troyer said she was shot before she had even got out of the vehicle.
Park superintendent Randy King said Anderson had served as a park ranger for about four years. King said Anderson's husband also was working as a ranger elsewhere in the park at the time of the shooting.
"It's just a huge tragedy — for the family, the park and the park service," he said.
Adam Norton, a neighbor of Anderson's in the small town of Eatonville, said the ranger's family moved in about a year ago. He said they were not around much, but when they were, Norton would see Anderson outside with her girls.
"They just seemed like the perfect family," he said.
The shooting renewed debate about a federal law that made it legal for people to take loaded weapons into Mount Rainier. The 2010 law made possession of firearms in national parks subject to state gun laws.
Bill Wade, the outgoing chair of the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, said Congress should be regretting its decision to allow loaded weapons in national parks.
He called Sunday's fatal shooting a tragedy that could have been prevented. He hopes Congress will reconsider the law that took effect in early 2010, but doubts that will happen in today's political climate.
Associated Press writer Donna Gordon Blankinship contributed from Seattle.
January 2nd, 2012
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
About 40,000 state laws taking effect at the start of the new year will change rules about getting abortions in New Hampshire, learning about gays and lesbians in California, getting jobs in Alabama and even driving golf carts in Georgia.
Several federal rules change with the new year, too, including a Social Security increase amounting to $450 a year for the average recipients and stiff fines up to $2,700 per offense for truckers and bus drivers caught using hand-held cellphones while driving.
NBC News, the National Conference of State Legislatures, The Associated Press, and other organizations tracked the changes and offered their views on the highlights.
Many laws reflect the nation's concerns over immigration, the cost of government and the best way to protect and benefit young people, including regulations on sports concussions.
Eight states will raise the minimum wage, NBC News reported. They include Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Colorado, Ohio, Vermont and Florida, NBC News said. San Francisco will become the first city to raise its minimum wage above $10 per hour. The new $10.24 minimum is nearly $3 above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, set in 2009.
Jan. 1 is the effective date in many states for laws passed during this year's legislative sessions. In others, laws take effect July 1, or 90 days after passage.
Alabama, with the country's toughest immigration law, will require all employers who do business with any government entity to use a federal system known as E-Verify to check that all new employees are in the country legally.
Georgia is putting a similar law into effect requiring any business with 500 or more employees to use E-Verify to check the employment eligibility of new hires. The requirement is being phased in, with all employers with more than 10 employees to be included by July 2013.
Supporters said they wanted to deter illegal immigrants from coming to Georgia by making it tougher for them to work. Critics said that changes to immigration law should come at the federal level and that portions of the law already in effect are already hurting Georgia.
"It is destroying Georgia's economy and it is destroying the fabric of our social network in South Georgia," Paul Bridges, mayor of the onion-farming town of Uvalda, said in November. He is part of a lawsuit challenging the new law.
Tennessee will also require businesses to ensure employees are legally authorized to work in the U.S. but exempts employers with five or fewer workers and allows them to keep a copy of the new hire's driver's license instead of using E-Verify.
A South Carolina law would allow officials to yank the operating licenses of businesses that don't check new hires' legal status through E-verify. A federal judge last week blocked parts of the law that would have required police to check the immigration status of criminal suspects or people stopped for traffic violations they think might be in the country illegally, and that would have made it a crime for illegal immigrants to transport or house themselves.
California is also addressing illegal immigration. The California Dream Act expands eligibility for private scholarships to students brought to the country illegally when they were infants.
The second part of the Dream Act, expanding eligibility for financial aid, will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2013. Additional legislation authorizes any student, including one without lawful immigration status, to serve in any capacity in student government.
Protecting the young
In Colorado, coaches will be required to bench players as young as 11 when they're believed to have suffered a head injury. The young athletes will also need medical clearance to return to play.
The law also requires coaches in public and private schools and even volunteer Little League and Pop Warner football coaches to take free annual online training to recognize the symptoms of a concussion. At least a dozen other states have enacted similar laws with the support of the National Football League.
People 18 and under in Illinois will have to wear seat belts while riding in taxis for school-related purposes, and Illinois school boards can suspend or expel students who make explicit threats on websites against other students or school employees.
Florida will take control of lunch and other school food programs from the federal government, allowing the state to put more Florida-grown fresh fruit and vegetables on school menus. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam says the change will help children eat healthier.
A California law will add gays and lesbians and people with disabilities to the list of social and ethnic groups whose contributions must be taught in history lessons in public schools. The law also bans teaching materials that reflect poorly on gays or particular religions.
Opponents have filed five potential initiatives to repeal the requirement outright or let parents remove their children while gays' contributions are being taught.
In New Hampshire, a law requiring girls seeking abortions to tell their parents or a judge first was reinstated by conservative Republicans over a gubernatorial veto. The state enacted a similar law eight years ago, but it was never enforced following a series of lawsuits.
In Arkansas, facilities that perform 10 or more nonsurgical abortions a month must be licensed by the state Health Department and be subject to inspections by the department, the same requirements faced by facilities that offer surgical abortions in the state.
It affects two Planned Parenthood facilities that offer the abortion pill, though they're not singled out in the statute.
Nevada's three-month old ban on texting while driving will get tougher, with tickets replacing the warnings that police have issued since the ban took effect Oct. 1. In Pennsylvania, police are preparing to enforce that state's recently enacted ban on texting, scheduled to take effect by spring.
In North Dakota, drivers under age 16 must have instructional permits for a year, up from six months, before they can get full licenses. The law, passed during the last legislative session in an effort to improve teen driver safety, also limits nighttime driving for learners. The law also bans drivers younger than 18 from using cell phones in their cars.
"Thirteen North Dakota teens were involved in fatal crashes during 2010," says North Dakota Department of Transportation Drivers License Director, Glenn Jackson. "The new law will give younger drivers a chance to get more supervised experience behind the wheel, and if it saves even one life, it's worth it."
New laws requiring voters to present photo identification will go into effect in Kansas, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Texas. A law in New Hampshire will require election day registrants who do not present a photo ID to return a mailed identify verification. An additional Tennessee law will require election officials to identify possible non-citizens who are registered to vote and require them to present proof of citizenship in order to remain registered voters.
In Ohio, a measure that creates one primary in March, instead of two that would have cost the state an extra $15 million, goes into effect later in January.
California allows active duty military personnel who are serving outside the state to file candidacy papers through a power of attorney.
A few laws try to address budget woes.
In Delaware, new state employees will have to contribute more to their pensions.
State workers hired after Jan. 1 in Nevada will have to pony up for their own health care costs in retirement.
Among federal laws, a measure Congress passed last week to extend Social Security tax cuts and federal unemployment benefit programs raises insurance fees on new mortgages and refinancings backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration by 0.1 percent beginning Jan. 1.
That covers about 90 percent of them and effectively makes a borrower's monthly payment on a new $200,000 mortgage or refinancing about $17 a month more than it would have been if obtained before the first of the year.
Other highlights by state:
- New restrictions govern who can testify as an expert witness in civil and criminal trials in a measure aiming to limit what critics call "junk science" theories of how or why a crime occurred.
- Employers cannot use consumer credit reports to evaluate job candidates, except for some exempted positions or when employers obtain consent from applicants.
- Civil unions or domestic partnerships for same-sex couples are legalized, giving them the same state rights and obligations of those who are married but clarifying that marriage is between a man and a woman.
- New safety requirements for cities that allow drivers to steer their golf carts off the green and onto roads and multi-use paths, including brakes, reverse warning devices and a horn.
- Any agency administering public benefits must require each applicant to provide at least one "secure and verifiable document."
- Municipalities with 911 call centers can require retailers selling prepaid cellphones to charge a fee to support the emergency systems.
- People convicted of first-degree murder must be added to a new public database, similar to the sex offender registry, when they're released from prison or any other facility. The database would include names, addresses, workplaces, schools attended and photos for offenders for up to 10 years after release.
- Motorcyclists stopped at a red light may proceed through if it fails to change to green after a reasonable length of time.
- Animal-control centers scanning a lost pet for a microchip also must look for other common forms of identification, including tattoos and ID tags.
- The state attorney general gains new subpoena powers to investigate open meeting law complaints, and members of public bodies who knowingly participate in violations are subject to civil penalties up to $500.
- Music therapists and dietitians face new licensing requirements, while educators must now undergo a criminal background check when their licenses are renewed. Fire performers and apprentices must apply to the state fire marshal for certificate of registration.
- A statewide emergency alert system is established for vulnerable elderly people, similar to the Amber Alert system for abducted children.
- More criminals convicted of misdemeanors will be housed in county jails rather than in state prisons to save money and reduce repeat offenses.
- State tax collector will have fewer powers to force corporations to redo their tax returns if they're suspected of dodging taxes.
- Penalties increasing for raping a child, creating a minimum sentence of 25 years but allowing judges to increase the time when appropriate, up to 60 years for the worst cases.
- Penalties also increase for people who fire a weapon into an occupied home, a measure that seeks to curtail drive-by shootings.
- New laws make any daily drink specials illegal, essentially banning happy hour.
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NBC News, Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this story
NBC News, Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this story