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Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 01:08 PM
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‘Take it off! This is America!’: Man who yanked hijab pleads guilty to religious obstruction

Near the end of his Southwest Airlines flight from Chicago to Albuquerque in December, Gill Parker Payne decided he had to take action.

Seated a few rows in front of him was a woman he had never met before. She was wearing a religious headscarf, known as a hijab, which Payne recognized as a Muslim practice. He stood up, walked down the aisle and stopped next to her seat. Looking down at the woman, Payne instructed her to remove the covering.

“Take it off! This is America!” Payne, 37, later recalled saying. When she didn’t do it herself, Payne did: He grabbed the hijab from the back and pulled it all off. Violated, the woman, identified by the Justice Department only as K.A., quickly pulled the hijab back over her head.

On Friday, as part of a plea deal with the federal government, Payne pleaded guilty to obstructing the woman’s exercise of her religious beliefs. “Because I forcibly removed K.A.’s hijab, I admit that the United States can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that I intentionally obstructed K.A.’s free exercise of her religious beliefs,” he said in a written statement in the plea agreement.


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First Openly Gay Army Secretary Nominee Stalled by Single Senator

It's been eight months since President Barack Obama nominated Eric Fanning to become secretary of the Army — the first openly gay man to be recommended to that branch's highest ranking civilian position.

Since then, he's no closer than he was months ago to a confirmation. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, is holding up Fanning's confirmation because the lawmaker wants Obama to promise not to move Guantanamo Bay detainees to the Fort Leavenworth, Kansas military installation.

"Let me be very clear on this — as a veteran, a Marine — I support Mr. Eric Fanning for this post," Roberts said on the Senate floor late last month. "If the White House calls and assures me that terrorists held at Guantanamo will not come to Ft. Leavenworth, I will release the hold - immediately."

White House officials suggested Roberts is grandstanding.

"It is hard to imagine that Senator Roberts takes this particularly seriously," White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters in a press briefing last month. "You may recall the last time that anybody has talked about Senator Roberts was when he filmed a video of himself crumbling up the president's plan to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay and throwing it in a wastebasket. So maybe he relishes the opportunity to be before the camera, but it's not apparent that he takes this critically important national security issue all that seriously."


Sanders giving Clinton a taste of her own medicine

By Eric Zorn

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has a near lock on the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, yet Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, her only rival, continues to campaign hard from the rear, winning primary races, whipping up crowds and ignoring calls for him to drop out in the interest of party unity.

I'm sure she can relate. Eight years ago at this time, Clinton was the die-hard rival who refused to quit in the face of near mathematical certainty that Barack Obama would be the Democratic nominee.

She was the one who, like Sanders, was pointing to polling data suggesting that, despite her opponent's lead, she was the most likely winner in November against the Republican nominee.

"The White House is won in the swing states, and I am winning the swing states," she told her supporters after clobbering her opponent in the West Virginia primary on the second Tuesday in May 2008, just as Sanders clobbered her on the second Tuesday in May 2016. "This race isn't over yet. Neither of us has the total delegates it takes to win."



House GOP floats $23B in food stamp cuts in budget package

Source: CBS

WASHINGTON -- Republicans controlling the House are proposing $23 billion worth of food stamp cuts over the coming decade. They are part of a $170 billion spending cut package aimed at getting tea party lawmakers to vote for a broader 10-year budget plan.

The food stamp cuts would be to benefits for able-bodied recipients without children and those who receive a greater benefit because they also qualify for home-heating subsidies. They are a small part of the 10-year, approximately $720 billion budget for the program.

GOP leaders have struggled to win enough support among Republicans for their broader budget plan since it permits higher agency budget levels than last year's budget deal.

It's not clear the package of binding "sidecar" spending cuts will add enough support to pass the GOP budget.

Read more: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/house-gop-floats-food-stamp-cuts-in-effort-to-revive-budget/

Trump signals backing for cuts to Social Security, Medicare

Billionaire Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, shifted his position on cuts in Social Security and Medicare on the eve of his visit to Capitol Hill for meetings with Republican congressional leaders.

After claiming to reject such cuts throughout the Republican primary campaign—distancing himself from rivals who all backed one or another version of “entitlement reform”—Trump signaled Wednesday that he was reversing his position.

His top policy adviser Sam Clovis addressed a Washington DC conference hosted by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, a group established by the billionaire former Nixon cabinet member to push for the dismantling of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security in the name of cutting the federal budget deficit.

Even attending the conference was something of a signal, given the Peterson group’s identification with entitlement spending cuts. Clovis underscored the message, telling the conference, “I think after the administration’s been in place, then we will start to take a look at all of the programs, including entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare.”

He added that Trump would not propose any changes in these programs during the election campaign, but wait until a new administration and Congress were elected. At that point, he said, “We’ll take a hard look at those to start seeing what we can do in a bipartisan way.”


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