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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 28,388

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GOP Conservatives Adamant In Ruling Out Immigration Overhaul In 2014, Say Wait Till Next Year

Source: Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Conservative Republicans on Wednesday ruled out any immigration legislation in the House this year, insisting that the GOP should wait until next year when the party might also control the Senate.

House GOP leaders unveiled their broad immigration principles last week that gave hope to advocates and the Obama administration that the first changes in the nation's laws in three decades might happen in the coming months.

Immigration legislation is one of the top priorities for Obama's second term.

But several of the conservatives were adamant that the House should do nothing on the issue this year, a midterm election year when the GOP is angling to gain six seats in the Senate and seize majority control. Democrats currently have a 55-45 advantage but are defending more seats, including ones in Republican-leaning states.

Read more: http://www.greenfieldreporter.com/view/story/94254869460c4922af16c52b0bb4408b/US--Immigration-Congress

More Secretive Conservative Super PACS Assail Proposed IRS Rules

As a pair of Republican-controlled House panels hold hearings this week on the Internal Revenue Service, including the agency's efforts to regulate political spending by non-profit groups, newly available documents show a broad range of right-leaning organizations weighing in to oppose the agency's proposed rules. These comments — all negative — suggest that the latest IRS effort is a continuation of the agency's decision, which made headlines and drew reprimands last year, to scrutinize Tea Party groups.

"These new IRS regulations against Conservative, Patriot, TeaParty Groups are Criminal," wrote one commenter. "Leave Us Alone!"

A new analysis based on text of available comments filed with the IRS by Sunlight's Docket Wrench tool now shows evidence that more groups — including FreedomWorks, the American Family Association and the Homeschool Legal Defense Association — have rallied their grassroots bases with alerts. Last week, Sunlight reported that Numbers USA, a group pushing for restrictive immigration policies, and True the Vote, which dedicates itself to watchdogging election fraud, were behind large groups of comments that criticize the proposals. Overall, the agency reports receiving more than 21,000 comments to date; however, the text of the vast majority of these letters became available for analysis online only in the last several days.

In this January release and video from FreedomWorks, a Tea Party group, urges its members to oppose the proposed IRS regulations: "The number of comments matters," says president Matt Kibbe. But the video does not give any suggested language, making comments difficult to track. However, Docket Wrench shows that a small group of commenters listed FreedomWorks as their organization; likely many more were inspired by the alert. FreedomWorks operates a 501(c)4 advocacy group, which is not required to reveal its donors. While their identity remains secret, we do know something about their size: In 2012, the group received nearly 60 percent of its $15 million in revenues from just four donors, according to a report by OpenSecrets. There is also the FreedomWorks super PAC, which spent $847,000; all of its independent expenditures went to Senate races, supporting Republicans and opposing Democrats. In 2012, Sunlight broke the news that two mysterious companies gave more than half of the funding — about $12 million — for the super PAC that year.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/More_secretive_conservative_super_PACS_assail_proposed_IRS_rules.html#GCABtwT06ySfSJZz.99

Drought Forces California Farmers To Idle Cropland

By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Drought-stricken California farmers facing drastic cutbacks in irrigation water are expected to idle some 500,000 acres of cropland this year in a record production loss that could cause billions of dollars in economic damage, industry officials said.

Large-scale crop losses in California, the No. 1 U.S. farm state producing half the nation's fruits and vegetables, would undoubtedly lead to higher consumer prices, especially for tree and vine produce grown only there. But experts say it is too soon to quantify the effect.

Coming off its driest year on record, California is gripped in a drought that threatens to inflict the worst water crisis in state history, prompting Governor Jerry Brown last month to declare a state of emergency.

He urged citizens to reduce their water consumption by 20 percent voluntarily.

California water managers later said the drought would force an unprecedented cutoff in state-supplied water sold to 29 irrigation districts, public water agencies and municipalities, barring an unexpected turnaround.

Irrigation deliveries to another group of agricultural districts served by the state are expected to be reduced by half, and an even larger group of farmers who get water from the federally operated Central Valley Project are likewise bracing for sharp cutbacks this year.



Kerry To Israeli Critics: I’ve Been ‘Attacked Before By People Using Real Bullets’

I won't be intimidated in peace talks, says Kerry

(AFP) – 34 minutes ago

Washington — Amid a bitter spat between the US and Israel, Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday bullets were worse than words and vowed he would not be "intimidated" in his dogged quest for peace.

The two countries have been at loggerheads after senior Israeli figures attacked the top US diplomat for weekend comments in which he warned that if the peace talks fail, Israel could face a growing threat of a boycott by the international community.

Israeli ministers said his comments at a security conference in Munich were "offensive" and accused him of trying to "amplify" the boycott threat.

But Kerry hit back Wednesday that his words had been distorted, saying he had merely commented on what other people were saying.

The decorated veteran of the Vietnam war told CNN that he has "been attacked before by people using real bullets, not words, and I am not going to be intimidated."



New Surveillance Technology Can Track Everyone In An Area For Several Hours At A Time

DAYTON, Ohio — Shooter and victim were just a pair of pixels, dark specks on a gray streetscape. Hair color, bullet wounds, even the weapon were not visible in the series of pictures taken from an airplane flying two miles above.

But what the images revealed — to a degree impossible just a few years ago — was location, mapped over time. Second by second, they showed a gang assembling, blocking off access points, sending the shooter to meet his target and taking flight after the body hit the pavement. When the report reached police, it included a picture of the blue stucco building into which the killer ultimately retreated, at last beyond the view of the powerful camera overhead.

“I’ve witnessed 34 of these,” said Ross McNutt, the genial president of Persistent Surveillance Systems, which collected the images of the killing in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, from a specially outfitted Cessna. “It’s like opening up a murder mystery in the middle, and you need to figure out what happened before and after.”

As Americans have grown increasingly comfortable with traditional surveillance cameras, a new, far more powerful generation is being quietly deployed that can track every vehicle and person across an area the size of a small city, for several hours at a time. Though these cameras can’t read license plates or see faces, they provide such a wealth of data that police, businesses, even private individuals can use them to help identify people and track their movements.

Already, the cameras have been flown above major public events, such as the Ohio political rally where Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) named Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008, McNutt said. They’ve been flown above Baltimore; Philadelphia; Compton, Calif.; and Dayton in demonstrations for police. They’ve also been used for traffic impact studies, for security at NASCAR races — and at the request of a Mexican politician, who commissioned the flights over Ciudad Juarez.



Sen. Franken Has 'Deep Concern' About Google Glass App NameTag

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) is worried about the privacy implications of a new facial recognition app.

In a letter on Wednesday, Franken expressed "deep concern" about NameTag, a facial recognition app for Google Glass devices that have been "jailbroken" to circumvent Google's ban on facial recognition tools.

Franken, chairman of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on Privacy, asked NameTag to delay its launch until there are best practices for facial recognition technology, such as those that will come out of a Commerce Department initiative beginning this week.

“According to promotional materials, NameTag lets strangers get a broad range of personal information — including a person’s name, photos, and dating website profiles — simply by looking at that person’s face with the Glass camera," Franken said in his letter.

"This is apparently done without that person’s knowledge or consent, which crosses a bright line for privacy and personal safety.

Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/hillicon-valley/technology/197580-franken-questions-facial-recognition-app#ixzz2sUjrW7MS

In U.S., ‘Natural’ Food May Be Anything But

In the United States, pre-packaged foods loaded with artificial ingredients and chemicals can make it onto grocery store shelves boasting the label “natural.”

Why? Because in America, there is no definition of “natural.”

This gray area has led consumer advocates to threaten lawsuit after lawsuit against big food giants, alleging that their claims are misleading and illegal.

“There are just too damn many ‘natural’ lawsuits,” said lawyer Stephen Gardner of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), estimating there have been around 50 in the past decade.

“It only scratches the surfaces of the number of companies that are making these claims. We keep coming across them,” he said.



Congress Warns Justice Dept.: Support NSA Reform Or Lose Key Patriot Act Provision

While the USA Freedom Act isn't perfect, it is one bill in Congress that has a lot of support and will fix many problems with the current NSA overreach. Much more needs to be done, but the USA Freedom Act is a good starting point. And yet, the Obama administration and his Justice Department have yet to take a public stand on the bill, and that seems to be annoying plenty of folks in Congress. At the recent Judiciary Committee hearings, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, the original author of the Patriot Act and Section 215, made it abundantly clear that the DOJ/NSA's interpretation of his bill was simply incorrect and that they were abusing the system. As the sponsor of the USA Freedom Act to fix this misinterpretation, he pointed out that if the DOJ doesn't agree to support it, there's a good chance that Congress simply won't renew the provisions in Section 215 at all. Section 215, of course, is the part that has been misinterpreted by the DOJ, the FISA court, the NSA and the FBI to pretend it authorizes the collection of every phone record. In short, the message from Congress is: work with us to reform things, or we'll pull the authority altogether. Of course, some of us think that pulling the authority altogether might be a better long term solution.

And it's not just Sensenbrenner making those claims. Many others -- across the political spectrum -- made it clear during the hearing that the NSA's actions with regards to Section 215 were unacceptable and Congress is going to make them change things. Yes, nothing has happened yet, and Congressional bluster doesn't always lead to results, but it's becoming increasingly clear that the NSA (and the President's) desire to keep collecting everyone's metadata is not convincing anyone.


Fire Breaks Out At Underground Nuclear Repository In New Mexico (Carlsbad)

Source: Associated Press

CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — Emergency crews are battling a fire in the federal government’s underground nuclear waste repository in southeastern New Mexico.

Officials say a truck hauling salt caught fire about 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, N.M.

According to a press release and a spokeswoman who answered the emergency line, all employees have been evacuated and none of the radioactive waste has been impacted. But a press release says “multiple employees” are being taken to a hospital for potential smoke inhalation.

Melissa Suggs, a spokeswoman for the Carlsbad Medical Center, said six patients were brought to the hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation. “They are all listed in stable condition,” she said.

Read more: http://news.gnom.es/news/fire-breaks-out-at-underground-nuclear-repository-in-n-m

Sierra Club Sues U.S. Over Keystone XL Pipeline Documents

Source: Bloomberg

By Joel Rosenblatt Feb 5, 2014 4:32 PM ET

The Sierra Club sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over the agency’s refusal to disclose documents related to its review of TransCanada Corp. (TRP)’s planned Keystone XL pipeline to the Gulf Coast.

The Army Corps has wrongly withheld records describing the pipeline’s path in relation to communities and sensitive water resources, according to the environmental group’s complaint filed today in federal court in San Francisco.

TransCanada applied more than five years ago for a permit to build the pipeline through the U.S. heartland, connecting oil sands in Alberta with refineries along the coast of Texas and Louisiana. The 875-mile (1,409-kilometer) pipeline would run from the U.S.-Canada border to Steele City, Nebraska. From there it would connect to an existing network.

In its final environmental review, the U.S. State Department on Jan. 31 found the Canada-U.S. oil pipeline would not greatly increase carbon emissions because the oil sands in Alberta will be developed anyway.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-02-05/sierra-club-sues-u-s-over-keystone-xl-pipeline-documents.html
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