Archive for Politics

Bedbugs give some MD state employees the day off

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AP/WTOP reports:

The Maryland Department of the Environment [MDE] is giving some employees the day off after bedbugs were discovered in a portion of the agency’s headquarters building in Baltimore.

Agency spokesman Jay Apperson says employees who work on one floor of the building were granted administrative leave for Monday. The agency is conducting a comprehensive inspection to ensure all areas infested with bedbugs have been identified.

Apperson says the agency will remain open for business Monday.

Bedbugs were discovered in August and an exerminator has been hired, according to the report.

MDE offices are located at 1800 Washington Boulevard in Baltimore, a.k.a. the Montgomery Park building. The Maryland State Lottery & Gaming Control Agency is also in that building.

Student disciplined for displaying Confederate flag at game

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A Washington Post story on a Howard County student disciplined for displaying a Confederate flag at a high school football game:

Rebecca Amani-Dove, the spokeswoman, would not say what type of action was taken against the Glenelg student who displayed the flag while standing at the top of the bleachers during the season opener between Glenelg and River Hill high schools on Friday night. The student was immediately told to take the flag down.

“Carrying a Confederate flag is not illegal, but anything that causes disruption is actionable from an administrative perspective,” Amani-Dove said. “Administrative action was taken in alignment with our student code of conduct.”

Amani-Dove said the principals at Glenelg and River Hill sent letters to parents and addressed students about the incident on Monday.

Ken Ulman, county executive and Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor, weighed in as well (along with the school superintendent):

“Public displays of the Confederate Flag evoke division, hate and subjugation — precisely the opposite of the values we hold in Howard County, and in Maryland,” Howard County Executive Ken Ulman posted on his Facebook page Monday. “We must teach our kids why this is such a hurtful symbol to so many people. We must fight against injustice and intolerance in any form, especially at our schools.”

Howard County Schools Superintendent Renee A. Foose released a statement saying the incident “has been addressed in both of the school communities, and administrative actions have been taken in accordance with our Student Code of Conduct.”

Saying that to many, “the Confederate flag is a powerful symbol of racism, hatred, and unspeakable acts against humanity,” she said the county school system has policies that address civility, student conduct, and safe schools, and that “collectively, these policies support a culture that is intolerant of hateful and disruptive behaviors, words, and symbols.”

This is the same Howard County school system that indoctrinated students with a song praising President Obama a few years ago.

Of course, Ulman will get involved because there’s nothing he won’t get involved in – like his ban on sugary soft drinks at events in the county, which he later backed down on. The county also fired firefighters who spoke out against Ulman’s gun control stance on their personal Facebook accounts in 2013.

Top golf courses rejected Obama over Labor Day Weekend

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NBC New York reports on several New York-area golf courses that refused President Barack Obama’s business over Labor Day weekend:

The Trump National Golf Club, the Winged Foot and Willow Ridge were among some of the elite courses that rebuffed the president’s request to tee off there, according to several sources who were told about the president’s advance team’s calls to the club managers

Club managers apparently did not want to inconvenience their high-powered and high-paying members over Labor Day weekend by shutting down their courses to accommodate the president.

The president was in town Friday, Aug. 29 for fundraising events in New York and Rhode Island. He had been scheduled to stay overnight in Westchester County in order to attend the Saturday evening wedding of MSNBC host Alex Wagner and White House chef Sam Kass at Blue Hill Farm.

The story notes that the presidential advance team was looking for a tee time Saturday morning. If you will recall Obama unexpectedly returned to Washington Friday night and then went back to New York for the wedding Saturday. Labor Day weekend is a busy weekend for golf courses.

IRS says it lost emails from 5 other employees linked to probe

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Associated Press:

The IRS says it has lost emails from five more workers who are part of congressional investigations into the treatment of conservative groups that applied for tax exempt status.

[...]

On Friday, the IRS said it has also lost emails from five other employees related to the probe, including two agents who worked in a Cincinnati office processing applications for tax-exempt status.

The agency blamed computer crashes for the lost emails. In a statement, the IRS said it found no evidence that anyone deliberately destroyed evidence.

I am shocked they dumped this news on a Friday afternoon (not really.) I’m also just as shocked to learn that they are using the same excuse of a crash that they used when emails of Lois Lerner and others were reported to be missing.

Notre Dame’s student health plan to cover abortifacients, contraceptives

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National Catholic Register:

The University of Notre Dame has approved a student health-insurance plan that features contraceptives, abortion-inducing drugs and other preventive services covered under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ mandate.

The university’s decision to provide the group health plan for students comes as Notre Dame pursues its legal challenge to the HHS mandate. Critics thus expressed concern that the move could undermine the university’s legal case, especially when other options were available for circumventing compliance requirements for the mandate.

“The university need not provide student health insurance at all,” said Gerard Bradley, a constitutional scholar at Notre Dame’s law school, who outlined the options available to university administrators.

 

Bradley noted that only group health plans must comply with the mandate. Consequently, the university also had another option: It could have opted to self-insure the plan for students and avoid coverage of services that violate Catholic teaching.

Earlier this year, Notre Dame denied recognition to a group supporting traditional marriage. Throw in that and the flap over President Obama receiving an honorary degree and speaking there, along with some other moves, and Notre Dame’s Catholic character appears to be in the process of being degraded.

If nothing else, this move makes the HHS mandate suit the university is engaged in more complicated.

Ben Carson’s Gaffes

Ben Carson

My latest piece in The Ring at Practical Politicking discusses Dr. Ben Carson’s history of gaffes over the past couple of years and how they are evidence that so far he isn’t mounting a serious or credible campaign for President in 2016.

An excerpt:

[Matt] Lewis also noted that Carson would be “easily dismissed as a crank” if he stayed on the path he was on. It would appear that Carson hasn’t not changed course since Lewis made these remarks. While he may be good for a sound bite and throwing out red meat on the stump, this won’t make him a serious or credible candidate unless he makes changes quickly.

I previously wrote a feature article for Practical Politicking looking into whether Carson is a serious candidate. Today’s piece on his gaffes is a followup to that original piece.

Berkeley mandates free marijuana for the poor

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Fox News via Standing Firm:

Weed welfare?

That’s what the Berkeley City Council in California has unanimously approved, ordering medical marijuana dispensaries to donate 2 percent of their stash to patients making less than $32,000 a year.

The new welfare program in the liberal-leaning city is set to launch in August 2015.

The ordinance, which passed in August and is the first of its kind in the country, comes at a time when several states are debating how to handle a growing movement to legalize marijuana for both medical and recreational use.

But Berkeley’s decision to effectively order weed redistribution is prompting a vocal backlash.

The usual suspects have spoken for and against this measure.

ISIS beats, tortures, kills Iraqi Christian who won’t convert

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Christian Post

A Christian man in Iraq has reportedly been beaten, tortured, and killed by terror group ISIS for refusing to renounce his faith and convert to Islam.

Ankawa.com reported on Tuesday that the 43-year-old man, Salem Matty Georgis, remained in the Syriac Christian town of Bartella after it was captured by ISIS on August 7. A relative said that the man was suffering from heart disease and could not leave the town with his family because of his illness.

Georgis hid in his home for three weeks, but eventually had to venture outside in search of food. He was then confronted by an ISIS patrol in town.

“The patrol arrests him and tried to force him to convert to Islam, but he completely refused. Thus, the militants beat him and tortured him until he died in their hands,” the relative explained.

The militants dumped Georgis’ body, which was later discovered by a Bartella resident and buried.

The article goes on to quote eyewitness accounts about children’s camps and people being forced to watch lashings, beatings, beheadings, and crucifixions.

Video shows apparent beheading of journalist Steven Sotloff

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WaPo:

A new video attributed to the Islamic State terrorist organization purports to show the beheading of U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff, marking the second such execution in recent weeks by an group that controls parts of Iraq and Syria and has threatened to kill other captives.

The video shows a bound Sotloff being held at knifepoint by a black-clad militant against a desert backdrop that appears similar to the one shown in a video released last month depicting the beheading of American journalist James Foley. The video was obtained by the SITE Intelligence Group, an organization that tracks the online postings of Islamist militant groups.

Sotloff, a freelance journalist, had written Time magazine, Foreign Policy and other publications. He was believed to have been taken captive shortly after entering Syria in 2013.

It will be interesting to see how long it takes the Obama administration to respond to this report in light of their response to the Foley beheading.

Drunk federal agent arrested for brandishing gun

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Associated Press:

Police say an apparently drunk man arrested after allegedly brandishing a gun on a Burbank street is a federal agent.

According to a police statement, officers responded early Wednesday after someone reported being approached by a very drunk man who pulled out a handgun. The armed man directed the victim to follow him.

The victim managed to run off and the armed suspect was found by police less than a mile away.

Police say Andrew Leconte was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping and brandishing a firearm.

Investigators later learned that Leconte is an agent with the United States Marshals Service.

The 27-year old was released on bond. The Marshals Service refused comment.