Friday, October 26, 2007

Take This Gavel And Shove It!

Natural disasters, like the fires consuming California right now, are useful for diverting your attention from flaming injustices. Usually, defying a judge's order is called contempt of court. But leave it to your lawmakers to find a way around that, especially on something having to do with security.

"JUDGES? WE DON' NEED NO STEEEENKING JUDGES!" Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff has overruled a federal judge who temporarily blocked construction on a border fence. The fence passes through the San Pedro Riparian Area of Southern Arizona, and environmental groups had sued, but a border-security law enacted by Congress gives Chertoff the power -- unbelievable as it may seem -- to trump a judge.

From KOLD News 13's Political Specialist Bud Foster:
The Defenders of Wildlife had planned to asked the federal court for a temporary injunction to buy more time but that has been rendered moot..

In a statement released just after the decision, it said, "Today's decision highlights the need for Congress to step in with legislation that would secure the nation's border while still being mindful of the impacts to the environment and local communities."

Congressman Raul Grijalva agrees with that assessment. In a statement of his own, he says "the secretary's decision to invoke a waiver for fence construction in the San Pedro is short sighted and will devastate the region and the river. It is an insult to those of us who live on the border. The secretary's responsibility is to protect the homeland, not selectively destroy our environment for political gain."

The judge's office had no comment on the decision other than to say it's not sure what it can do, if anything, now.
However, your Lightning Round knows exactly what the Bush Administration wants this judge to do: sit down and shut up.

HIKE! Elsewhere in the halls of Washington, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel is getting out the tax bucket and preparing to give the rich a good soaking. He's proposing a $48 billion tax hike on hedge fund and buyout firm executives.

As Bloomberg reports:
The New York Democrat said the proposal would more than double the tax rate on so-called carried interest, the compensation that executives at buyout and venture-capital firms, as well as real estate and oil and gas partnerships, receive for managing investments. It would also require hedge- fund managers to pay tax on income they defer in offshore accounts, he said.

The so-called patch, which lawmakers must pass this year to forestall a tax increase on 21 million households, will set up a showdown between Democrats who want to offset the lost revenue with new levies and Republicans who oppose any increase. The carried-interest measure will also be part of a broader overhaul that contains a permanent repeal of the minimum tax, a tax-rate surcharge on wealthy households and a lower corporate rate.
We don't expect Rep. Rangel's proposal to get very far, but hey, somebody needs to pay for that war in Iraq...

NAP TIME. Meanwhile, those fires are still burning in the Golden State. Rest assured, your Federal Government is on the case, but man, those planning meetings are a real bore, as we can tell from Vice President Cheney's nod-off caught on camera. RawStory has a look:

In all fairness, we found it hard to tell whether he was nodding off at all the first time we saw it. But after a few more viewings, we're convinced. Looks like somebody could use some Red Bull.

IT'S TEN O'CLOCK. DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR CHILD IS? You will if you outfit your young one with a GPS tracker jacket. As The Guardian reports:
You switch it on when you leave the house and what you get is nothing less than the ability to know where someone is - within four square metres - anywhere in the world. You can watch them move, check where they've been and get updates every 10 seconds. You don't even need to be permanently logged on to your computer, as you can have email alerts sent to your Blackberry or text messages to your mobile.
But, and this is a big but, kids can always take the jacket off. And with the cost ranging in the hundreds of dollars, this is one piece of clothing you don't want them to lose. As our assistant editor Sluggo Wisekampf said, "Ya wanna treat your kid like a dog, buy a leash!"

STICK YOUR FINGER THERE. A school lunchroom fingerprint scanner is upsetting parents in Salem, Oregon. They claim it violates privacy. The school claims it speeds up the cafeteria line by matching each student with their pre-paid lunch account.

As the Salem Statesman-Journal reports:
Jack Adams, the superintendent of the North Santiam School District, said the system does not take a student's actual fingerprint.

"It's a string, not a fingerprint," Adams said. "It's three mathematical pieces of information taken from a student's finger. It's stored on the school computer and can't be used in any other way."

But some parents are opposed to the finger-scanning of minors in schools. They say they're concerned that the prints their children register with the school could be stolen, misplaced or used for a form of fraud that hasn't even been invented.
If I'm a kid, I'm more concerned with putting one of my digits where every other kid has put theirs... eeeeeewwwwww, gross!

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