‘The Hive’ – Please Talk Amongst Yourselves

Here is our usual weekend discussion thread again, where comments on the general topics of the day are welcome.

But please remember to post and comment on specific news items in the ‘Reader Selected News’ thread below or via the ‘News Selected By Our Readers’ link found in the sidebar.

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Reader Selected News, Week Dec 22 – Dec 28

This thread is for the busy bees of S&L to post news articles that might not warrant their own thread.

Posting Guidelines

To make the articles as readable as possible, please:

  • Only post news from established news media outlets.
  • Avoid editorials or opinion pieces unless they are truly newsworthy.
  • Avoid items that most people most likely have seen elsewhere.
  • Post articles that fit under the topic of a recent thread as a comment there.
  • Always spell out the name of the source and post a link to it.
  • Always post less than one quarter of the original article.

Posts of articles that do not follow these guidelines may be edited or deleted.

Thank you.

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Merry Christmas To Our Extended S&L Family!

Merry Christmas!

From all of us here at Sweetness & Light, Inc., including the corporate management, administrative staff, editorial staff, (non-striking) writers, fact checkers, layout artists, typesetters, legal department, accountants, production assistants, paid and unpaid interns, runners, switchboard operators, security team, as well as the stock holders and the cleaning crew.

Which of course is really just me and you. And especially you.

Thank you all for reading the site. And thank you for your comments, news tips and very generous donations.

Best wishes, and have the happiest of holidays!

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Biden: No Reason Weapons Ban Shouldn’t Pass

From an unquestioning Politico:

Biden: ‘No reason’ assault weapons ban shouldn’t clear Congress

By JENNIFER EPSTEIN | December 20, 2012

Vice President Joe Biden is "absolutely committed" to fighting gun violence, he said Thursday as he hosted his first meeting responding to the Newtown shooting.

"We have to have a comprehensive way in which to respond to the mass murder of our children that we saw in Connecticut," Biden told law enforcement officials and members of the Cabinet at the start of the meeting. He and President Obama agree that "even if we can only save one life, we have to take action."

There’s "no reason" why Congress shouldn’t be able to pass a ban on assault weapons, he said. Referring to the bill he authored in 1994…

Someone should tell ‘Bite Me’ that Connecticut already has a ban on so-called ‘assault weapons’ that is identical to the lapsed 1994 federal ban.

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Administration Starts Fearmongering Re Layoffs

From the Washington Post:

Administration says furloughs are possible, but not immediately

By Joe Davidson | December 20, 2012

They don’t want it to happen. They don’t necessarily think it is going to happen. But Obama administration officials want federal employees to be ready if it does happen.

“It” is sequestration, the process of across-the-board budget cuts that are scheduled to begin taking effect in January unless the White House and Congress come to an agreement to prevent “it.”

To get folks ready, federal agencies sent messages to their employees Thursday to explain what sequestration is and is not and how it would, and would not, affect operations, albeit in general terms.

“Under sequestration, we would still have funds available after January 2, but our overall funding for the remainder of the year would be reduced,” said a message from “Charlie B,” also known as NASA Administrator Charles F.

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House GOP Puts Off Plan B Vote, In ‘Meltdown’

From an amused Associated Press:

House GOP puts off vote on ‘Plan B’

By DAVID ESPO | December 20, 2012

WASHINGTON (AP) — Confronted with a revolt among the rank and file, House Republicans abruptly scrapped a vote Thursday night on legislation allowing tax rates to rise for households earning $1 million and up, complicating attempts to avoid a year-end "fiscal cliff" that threatens to send the economy into recession.

This complicates nothing. Harry Reid would never have allowed the Senate to vote on ‘Plan B.’ So absolutely nothing has changed.

The legislation "did not have sufficient support from our members to pass," Speaker John Boehner conceded in a brief statement. At the same time he challenged President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to work on legislation to avoid across-the-board tax increases and deep spending cuts due to take effect in less than two weeks…

In a statement released a short while later, the White House said the president’s "main priority is to ensure that taxes don’t go up on 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses in just a few short days.

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19 MI Schools Close Over Threats, Doomsday

From the Detroit NBC affiliate, WDIV-TV:

Michigan schools cancel classes due to potential threats, end of world rumors

Schools in Lapeer, Genesee, Sanilac counties cancel classes for remainder of year due to potential threats of violence, end of world rumors

Dec 20 2012

DETROIT – Nearly a dozen school districts in Michigan have decided to cancel classes for the rest of the week.

Actually, the total numbers of schools closed turned out to be 19.

It has nothing to do with the weather. School leaders say rumors about the end of the world and potential threats of violence are partially behind the cancelations.

The Lapeer Community Schools district will be closed Thursday and Friday. Leaders in that district say there is no credible threat to students, just rumors, but the rumors have caused major distractions in the classroom.

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CNN Polls Benghazi, Guns And GOP Extremism

From the aptly named CNN Political Unit:

CNN Poll: Majority dissatisfied but don’t think administration misled on Benghazi attack

December 19th, 2012

Washington (CNN) – A slight majority of Americans are giving the White House low marks for how it has handled the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, according to a new national survey.

But a CNN/ORC International poll released Wednesday also indicates that a more solid majority of the public doesn’t believe the Obama administration intentionally tried to mislead Americans on the September attack that left the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans dead.

Only four in ten Americans believe that the inaccurate statements by administration officials in the days following the Benghazi attack were intended to deliberately mislead the public, with 56% saying those statements reflected what the Obama administration believed at the time had occurred in Libya…

Well, that’s settled then.

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Man Charged With Assault After ‘Cheese Rage’

From the Smoking Gun:

Charges Filed In Cheeseburger Rage Incident

McDonald’s patron became irate over his botched drive-thru order

December 19, 2012

DECEMBER 19–A Pennsylvania man has been charged with assault and disorderly conduct for his alleged rampage last month at McDonald’s, a meltdown reportedly triggered when his drive-thru order contained a hamburger with an unwanted piece of cheese.

Sean Varone, 35, was named in a District Court criminal complaint filed yesterday in York County, Pennsylvania.

The only surprise is that this didn’t happen in Florida, but in the heart of Amish country.

According to cops, Varone became irate on November 30 after he “found his sandwich had cheese on it which was not what he ordered.” After he was provided a second hamburger–which also had cheese–Varone parked his vehicle and entered the McDonald’s.

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5 Times More Will See Medicare Premiums Rise

From the Associated Press:

Medicare premiums could rise for many retirees

By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR | December 20, 2012

WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s a health care change that President Barack Obama and Republicans both embrace: Expand a current, little-known law so more retirees the government considers well-off are required to pay higher Medicare premiums.

You see? The Republicans are to blame, too!

That plan is likely to be part of any budget deal to reduce the overhang of federal debt, raising $20 billion or more over 10 years. It could come as a shock to many seniors who will have to pay the higher premiums even though they consider themselves solidly middle-class, and by no means wealthy…

The elections are over. Be prepared for a lot of shocks.

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Outrage! Lack Of AMT Fix Could Delay Refunds!

From CNN’s Money.com:

Lack of AMT fix could delay 100 million tax returns

By Jeanne Sahadi | December 19, 2012

As many as 100 million taxpayers may be unable to file their returns until late March and would face refund delays if Congress fails to reach a fiscal cliff deal by Dec. 31 that includes an Alternative Minimum Tax fix.

That’s the latest estimate from the IRS, which would have to do some serious system reprogramming in the absence of an AMT provision.

Oh, no! Not "reprogramming!" By the way, how many people file their taxes before March?

By the way, how come we never hear how making the IRS enforce Obama-Care might delay tax refunds. Why is that?

Here’s the problem: Income exemption levels under the "wealth tax" — as the AMT is known — were never adjusted for inflation since it was enacted decades ago.

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Coldest Week Since 1938 Kills 45 Across Russia

From the Moscow Times:

Cold Snap Claims Lives Across Russia

19 December 2012

Health officials said Wednesday that record-breaking cold weather caused the deaths of 21 people on Monday.

One hundred and forty-seven people were hospitalized with frost bite and 250 people suffered cold-related injuries the same day, RIA-Novosti reported.

Monday’s fatalities come a week into a period of unseasonable cold.

Overall, 45 people have died and 266 people have been hospitalized since temperatures ranging from minus 18 degrees Celsius in the capital to minus 50 degrees in parts of Siberia gripped the country a week ago.

How come we never hear about how many people die from hypothermia? It is one of the biggest killers in the world. Hypothermia kills far more than heat and hurricanes combined.

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Senators Mad ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Shows ‘Torture’

From two unquestioning reporters at The Hill:

Senators: ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ film a ‘dangerous’ mix of fact, fiction

By Carlo Muñoz and Jeremy Herb | December 19, 2012

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) says the film “Zero Dark Thirty” is a combination of “fact, fiction and Hollywood” that dangerously links the use of torture with the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Feinstein and Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.) are sending a letter to Sony Pictures, the film studio distributing the Oscar contender, to make their complaints known.

“I thought it was terrible," said Feinstein, one of a handful of lawmakers to see the film ahead of its limited release this week. “It is a combination of fact, fiction and Hollywood in a very dangerous combination.”

McCain, who was tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, said Tuesday that he was “sickened” by the film when he saw it, according to The Associated Press, saying the filmmakers fell hook, line and sinker for the torture storyline.

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Lanza Mom Tried To Get Him Out Of The House

From the New York Daily News:

Inside the mind of Newtown killer Adam Lanza; he ‘was like a ghost’

His mother spotted his precipitous withdrawal before he went on his rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School. ‘He didn’t understand why she wanted him to go out into the world. She told me she couldn’t reach him — and she was worried,’ says a family friend.

By Matthew Lysiak | Wednesday, December 19, 2012

In the days before the massacre, the mother of Adam Lanza was pushing her loner son to leave the Newtown home that provided his refuge from reality, a family friend told the Daily News Wednesday.

“He sat in his room playing video games for hours and hours,” the friend said. “She thought the best thing was for him to get out of the house and into the world.

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NRA Sees Its Membership Grow By 8,000 A Day

From Fox News:

NRA sees rise in membership after Connecticut school shooting

December 19, 2012

The National Rifle Association, while staying mostly quiet in the immediate aftermath of the mass shooting in Connecticut, has registered an average of 8,000 new members a day since the tragedy, an NRA source told Fox News.

While this broadly aligns with trends seen after similar incidents in the past, the surge in membership this time is said to dwarf past trends.

The source, based on his access to an internal memo prepared by the organization’s membership division, said both the number of individual contributions to the NRA and their average amount have risen significantly in this period.

Amid the uptick, the NRA is planning what it describes as a “major” news conference on Friday.

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