Tag Archives: federal

Not A Game by Senator John Kerry

Posted by: Betsm

Written by Senator John Kerry/Cross-posted from TPM

Senator John Kerry

Senator John Kerry

Too often, the way it’s played and the way it’s reported, Americans might think everything that happens in Washington is a game.

But look, this is anything but a game. The business before the Senate is literally life and death on many issues, and the parliamentary tricks to delay and obstruct the basic workings of our government have real-world consequences.

What am I talking about? Start with the latest example: one Senator’s effort to delay the votes on some critically-needed legislation for Americans out of work and hurting in our economy.

A lot of people today are clicking on this news story about Senator Bunning.

Political theater? Much more than that. Here’s what’s at stake: 2000 federal highway workers were furloughed this morning, losing the pay that their families depend on and halting work on critical national infrastructure. Nearly 1.2 million could lose their unemployment benefits without an extension of that program, pulling away a critical financial lifeline.

This has to end.

In the last Congress, the Republican minority more than doubled the previous record for filibusters, and they are on a pace to challenge or surpass that “accomplishment” this Congress as well. And filibusters are only the most obvious part of it. (TPM put together a great chart on filibusters which you can see here.)

On issue after issue, votes large and small, the strategy from the GOP at the highest levels has been the same: exploiting every Senate rule, playing every trick to try to slow things down. They put holds on bills that later pass by 90 votes, filibuster things they later vote for, block things they previously proposed. They used the filibuster to shoot down a debt commission that they themselves called on President Obama to implement! They block completely uncontroversial nominees and cause days of delays on the most critical of legislation. They even stalled on money for our troops last year, just to try to delay debate on health care reform.

It doesn’t have to be this way. There are good Senators on both sides of the aisle. Last week, five Republican Senators (including Scott Brown of Massachusetts, and I don’t care about party label, I call it the way I see it – Scott cast the right vote for Massachusetts there) joined with Democrats to break a GOP filibuster to pass a jobs bill helping small businesses hire in this tough economy. Senator Lindsay Graham and I are working hard together to develop a bill on energy and global climate change.

But as long as the GOP leadership continues with the scorched-earth campaign, it will be tough to get done the things we know we need to do.

We need this to end. Debate big differences. Disagree. Use the filibuster when big matters of principle hang in the balance – and sometimes they do. But at the end of the day, Washington has to function – people are counting on it. When it comes to unemployment insurance for workers who have been laid-off through no fault of their own, stop playing games immediately, allow a vote, and then get to work trying to solve some problems, not playing tricks with the Senate rules. The framers invested the minority with rights to protect the Senate – not to destroy it.

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Filed under Economy, Jobs, Partisan Politics, Politics, Republicans, Sen. John Kerry, Senate, Uncategorized, Unemployment

Republican Senator Jim Bunning’s Impasse Puts 2000 Federal Employees Out Of Work Today

AP~Two thousand federal transportation workers were furloughed without pay on Monday, and the Obama administration said they have a Kentucky senator to blame for it.

Federal reimbursements to states for highway programs will also be halted, the Transportation Department said in a statement late Sunday. The reimbursements amount to about $190 million a day, according to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

The furloughs and freeze on payments were the result of a decision last week by Republican Sen. Jim Bunning to block passage of legislation that would have extended federal highway and transit programs, the department said. Those programs expired at midnight Sunday.

The extension of transportation programs was part of a larger package of government programs that also expired Sunday, including unemployment benefits for about 400,000 Americans.

Bunning objected to the $10 billion measure, saying it would add to the budget deficit. He didn’t respond to a request Monday for comment.

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Filed under Jobs, Partisan Politics, Politics, Republicans, Senate, Uncategorized, Unemployment

Filmmaker Who Broke ACORN Story Arrested For Attempted Bugging Of Landrieu’s Office

Posted by: Audiegrl

James O'Keefe

James O'Keefe


A conservative activist who posed as a pimp to target the community-organizing group ACORN and the son of a federal prosecutor were among four people arrested by the FBI and accused of trying to interfere with phones at Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office.

Activist James O’Keefe, 25, was already in Landrieu’s New Orleans office Monday when Robert Flanagan and Joseph Basel, both 24, showed up claiming to be telephone repairmen, U.S. Attorney Jim Letten’s office said Tuesday. Letten says O’Keefe recorded the two with his cell phone.

In the reception area, Flanagan, the son of acting U.S. Attorney Bill Flanagan in Shreveport, and Basel asked for access to the main phone at the reception desk.

After handling the phone, Letten’s office said, they asked for access to a phone closet so they could work on the main phone system. The men were directed to another office in the building, where they are accused of again misrepresenting themselves as telephone repairmen.

They were arrested later by the U.S. Marshal’s Service. Details of the arrest were not available. A fourth man, Stan Dai, 24, was also arrested, but Letten’s office said only that he assisted the others in planning, coordinating and preparing the operation.

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA)

Federal officials did not say why the men wanted to interfere with Landrieu’s phones or whether they were successful. Landrieu, a moderate Democrat, declined comment Tuesday. She has been in the news recently because she negotiated an increase in Medicaid funds for her state before announcing her support for Senate health care legislation.

Bill Flanagan’s office confirmed his son was among those arrested, but declined further comment.

An FBI criminal complaint charging the men was unsealed Tuesday, and a magistrate set bond at $10,000 each after they made their initial court appearances wearing red prison jumpsuits.

Much more on the breaking story @ TPM

UPDATE: What Is The Pelican Institute?

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Hat tip Media Matters

With O’Keefe arrest, Breitbart develops new-found appreciation for “facts”

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Filed under Bad Journalism, Creepy right-wing antics, Crime, Democrats, Law, Media and Entertainment, New Orleans, LA, Partisan Politics, Police, Politics, Republicans, Technology, United States

Breaking News: 2 Federal Agents Shot in Las Vegas Courthouse

Posted by Audiegrl


***UPDATE Sources say the gunman is 66-year-old Johnny Lee Wicks. He was apparently angry about a reduction in his social security benefits when he stormed into the Lloyd George Federal Courthouse and opened fire.

Read the Lawsuit filed by Johnny Wicks

Sixty-five-year-old Stanley Cooper, a court security officer, and an unnamed 48-year-old deputy U.S. Marshal were gunned down when Wicks opened fire in the lobby of the federal building in downtown Las Vegas around 8 a.m. Cooper is a retired Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department sergeant. A motorcade made up of dozens of police officers escorted his body from University Medical Center to the Clark County Coroner’s Office.

FBI Special Agent Joseph Dickey said the shooting started in the main foyer and continued outside. The gunman was killed across the street from the federal building, which is located on Las Vegas Blvd. between Bridger and Bonneville Avenues. Seven U.S. Marshals and security officers were involved in the gunfire. Some witnesses say they heard between 50 to 100 shots fired.

Wicks filed a lawsuit against the Social Security Administration in early 2008. In a handwritten complaint, he said discrimination had followed him from California to Nevada. Wicks wrote this about one California agent, “Doesn’t try to hide the way he feels about black people so he reduced my benefits.”

Wicks explained he suffered a stroke some years back. He claimed his benefits dropped from $886 to $445 a month and then to $128 a month.

U.S. Magistrate Judge George Foley reviewed the case and determined Wicks’ payments were reduced because Nevada, unlike California, does not provide a state supplement. When Wicks moved to Nevada he was no longer eligible for the supplement.

The case was ultimately dismissed in September of 2009.

Prior to Wicks’ arrival at the courthouse, investigators suspect he set his home on fire. He lived at Sunrise Senior Village on 30th Street in Las Vegas.


***UPDATE Marshals say they don’t know motive for shooting

***UPDATE U.S. Marshals Service Director John F. Clark said in a statement, “I can receive no news more grim or sobering than word of a line-of-duty death or injury to our U.S. Marshals personnel. … Rest assured, the brave and immediate actions of these two individuals saved lives by stopping the threat of a reckless and callous gunman who had no regard for who or how many victims were struck down by his senseless actions. They are heroes.”

***UPDATE 8 News Now has learned that the Deputy U.S. Marshal suffered buckshot wounds to his head and hand. At least five federal agents shot the gunman killing him. The gunman’s body is outside of the federal building. The court security officer is identified as being 65-year-old retired Metro Sgt.

***UPDATE (AP)~~Hospital official says a court officer in Las Vegas federal building shooting has died.

Suspected gunman is shot dead, FBI says

The Lloyd George Federal Building in Las Vegas

MSNBC—Two federal agents were shot Monday when a gunman opened fire in the lobby of a federal building in downtown Las Vegas, and the gunman was shot and killed, the FBI said.

We have two marshals down,” Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Roxanna Lea Irwin said after the shooting ended at about 8 a.m. local time.

The condition of the federal agents was not immediately known.

Police and other federal agents swarmed the multi-story building, and paramedics wheeled at least two people out and down a ramp to ambulances. There was no immediate word on the identity of the shooter.

Las Vegas police spokeswoman Barbara Morgan said the gunman had been shot in the head.

It looks like he went in there and just started unloading,” Morgan said.

The multi-story building houses federal courts and offices for federal officials including U.S. Sens. Harry Reid and John Ensign.

Irwin said she saw shotgun casings on the floor of the lobby.

Two Shot at Las Vegas Courthouse

Police block off the area around the federal courthouse in Las Vegas on Monday.

CNN—Two people were shot Monday in the lobby of a federal courthouse in Las Vegas, Nevada, police said.

The shooting suspect was shot and killed, FBI Special Agent Joseph Dickey said.

The incident occurred about 8 a.m., said Barbara Morgan, spokeswoman for Las Vegas Metropolitan Police.

The two victims were a deputy U.S. marshal and a court security officer, according to U.S. Marshals spokesman Jeff Carter.

Authorities were in the process of evacuating the building, Dickey said.

One person was dead at the scene, and two others were transported to University Medical Center in unknown condition, according to Tim Szymanski, spokesman for the Las Vegas Fire Department.

No one else was in the lobby at the time of the incident, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police spokeswoman Barbara Morgan said.

This report will be updated as information becomes available.

On YouTube, a man who claimed to have a jury summons captured audio of the shots (contains graphic language):
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Special agent Joseph Dickey confirms that two federal agents were shot in Las Vegas Monday. One suspect was shot and killed, according to Dickey.

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Filed under Crime, Guns, Las Vegas, NV, Law, Police, Uncategorized, Violence

Conservative Trio Supports Transferring Gitmo Detainees To Illinois

posted by GeoT

**Update**

In a joint statement prepared by the Constitution Project, David Keene, founder of American Conservative Union, Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, and former representative and presidential candidate Bob Barr say moving suspected terrorists to the Thomson, Illinois prison facility, “makes good sense.” Taxpayers, they note, have already invested $145 million in the facility, which has been “little used.” And the surrounding community, they add, could benefit from increased employment once the prison becomes filled.

“The scaremongering about these issues should stop,” they add, noting that there is “absolutely no reason to fear that prisoners will escape or be released into their communities.”

source: Huffington_Post_Logo

**Update**

CHICAGO — Gov. Pat Quinn and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin on Sunday tried to build support and counter criticism of a proposal to sell a prison in rural northwestern Illinois to the federal government to house Guantanamo Bay detainees and other inmates.

Both Quinn and Durbin said the possibility of selling the prison to the federal government was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help create about 3,000 jobs, both at the prison and directly in surrounding communities in an area where unemployment has topped 10 percent.

source:

CHICAGO – The Obama administration may buy a near-empty prison in rural northwestern Illinois to house detainees from Guantanamo Bay along with federal inmates, a White House official said Saturday.

Thomson Correctional Center

The maximum-security Thomson Correctional Facility, about 150 miles west of Chicago, was one of several evaluated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and emerged as a leading option to house the detainees, the official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because a decision has not been made.

President Barack Obama wants detainees from the controversial military-run detention center in Cuba to be transferred to U.S. soil so they can be prosecuted for their suspected crimes.

It is unclear how many Guantanamo detainees — alleged terrorism suspects, many held without charges since the beginning of the war in Afghanistan — might be transferred to Illinois or when. Obama initially planned to close the Guantanamo Bay prison by Jan. 22, but the administration is no longer expected to meet that deadline.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has been hinting at a possible new use for Thomson, and he issued a statement saying he would hold a news conference Sunday to outline those plans.

Source:

More information:

Although nothing has been finalized as yet and the administration is still considering its options. However, if the government decides to shift the detainees of the Guantanamo Bay in this maximum security prison then the federal bureau would have to purchase the prison and then later lease a part of the facility to the Department of Defense so that few inmates from Guantanamo can be kept there.On Monday, officials are scheduled to visit the correctional center to inspect its conditions so that a final decision can be taken soon. At the same time, it has also been emphasized by the government, that ultimately the decision would be undertaken depending on how people in the remote town react to the relocation of the inmates.

However, the fact that administration is planning to shift the detainees has been welcomed by the residents of Thomson, as it is likely that the new venture would create a large amount of job opportunities in the small town and in turn would significantly contribute to improving the economic situation of the town. The prison in Thomson was built in the year 2001 but large part of the prison was not operational due to financial constraints.

souce: Thaindian_News_Logo

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Filed under 9/11, Al-Qaeda, Chicago, IL, FBI, Homeland Security, Illinois, Terrorism, Uncategorized

Feds to Issue New Medical Marijuana Policy

AP/—Federal drug agents won’t pursue pot-smoking patients or their sanctioned suppliers in states that allow medical marijuana, under new legal guidelines to be issued Monday by the Obama administration.

Two Justice Department officials described the new policy to The Associated Press, saying prosecutors will be told it is not a good use of their time to arrest people who use or provide medical marijuana in strict compliance with state law.

The guidelines to be issued by the department do, however, make it clear that agents will go after people whose marijuana distribution goes beyond what is permitted under state law or use medical marijuana as a cover for other crimes, the officials said.

The new policy is a significant departure from the Bush administration, which insisted it would continue to enforce federal anti-pot laws regardless of state codes.

Fourteen states allow some use of marijuana for medical purposes: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

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More @ Associated Press

History of Weed Part I

History of Weed Part II

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Filed under Culture, Green, Law, Politics, Uncategorized, Video/YouTube

Derogatory Free Speech: Court Overturns Lawsuit Against Church

Posted by Audiegrl

Funeral ProtestEUR—A federal court has ruled that it’s acceptable for church members to picket outside the funeral of a gay soldier holding signs that read reading “God hates fags” and “Thank God for dead soldiers” because their message was protected under the First Amendment Right of free speech.

In doing so the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., reversed a lower court’s $5 million award against Westboro Baptist Church concluding that members didn’t violate the privacy of the family of fallen Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder when they picketed his 2006 funeral in Westminster.

According to the Baltimore Sun, the Westboro membership is made up largely of the members of a single extended family who say the deaths of U.S. service members are God’s way of showing he disapproves of America’s alleged tolerance of homosexuality.

More @ EUR

Mathews father, Albert Snyder talks with reporters Oct. 31 at the federal courthouse in Baltimore. (AP Photo/The (Baltimore) Sun, Glenn Fawcett)

Mathews father, Albert Snyder talks with reporters Oct. 31, 2007. (AP Photo/The (Baltimore) Sun, Glenn Fawcett)

Associated Press—A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the signs contained “imaginative and hyperbolic rhetoric” protected by the First Amendment. Such messages are intended to spark debate and cannot be reasonably read as factual assertions about an individual, the court said.

A jury in Baltimore had awarded Albert Snyder damages for emotional distress and invasion of privacy. The 2006 funeral of Snyder’s son, Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder in Westminster, Md., was among many military funerals that have been picketed by members of the fundamentalist Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas.

Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder

Fallen Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder

Albert Snyder’s attorney, Sean E. Summers, said he and his client were disappointed.

“The most troubling fact is it leaves these grieving families helpless,” Summers said. “If you can’t use the civil process, you have no recourse.”

He said he will appeal the ruling to either the full appeals court or to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We feel we owe that to Mr. Snyder and other families who have been harassed, humiliated and abused,” Summers said.

More @ Associated Press

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Filed under Culture, Gay (LGBT) Rights, Law, Military, Partisan Politics, Politics, Republicans, Supreme Court, Uncategorized