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Monday, September 09, 2013

Adult Stem Cells Can Save Failing Hearts

Former Master Sgt. Barry Brown was teaching physical education to Miami high school students when he realized there was something terribly wrong. Super-fit and just 38, the newly retired Air Force fitness instructor suddenly couldn’t walk a quarter mile without experiencing a searing pain in his back.

"I had served in Iraq and Afghanistan and I assumed I was in the best shape of my life, so it just didn't make sense," Brown tells Newsmax Health.

Region’s Bike Week Events Kick Off Thursday; Live Concerts Wrap Up Each Day In Ocean City

OCEAN CITY – OC Bikefest and Delmarva Bike Week return this week for the first time under one command, providing event locations in both Wicomico and Worcester counties, but at the end of the day organizers are encouraging attendees to come together to enjoy national acts at the beach.

OC Best Fest promoter Cliff Sutherland of OC Jams LLC announced in early March that his company had purchased Delmarva Bike Week.

OC Bikefest is now in its third year rallying motorcycles to Ocean City. Sutherland first proposed OC Bikefest to the Town of Ocean City back in 2010 after the Harley Davidson dealership on Route 50 in West Ocean City closed to consolidate operations with its sister store in Seaford.


How Many Treasurys Do Russia And China Own?

Between the two of them, this much: $1,414 billion, or 25% of all foreign held US Treasury paper.

Now the question is - if the military escalation begins, would one or both dump without regard for price, crush the carefully manicured rate-driven recovery, and punch the ultimate decision-maker behind the Syrian war, the Federal Reserve and the banker uberclass, where it really hurts?


If Employment Is So Great, Why Are Withholding Taxes Declining?

It's difficult to have a meaningful national debate about economic policy when "headline numbers" are juiced to make things appear rosier than reality.

Since unemployment statistics are either suspect or blatantly bogus, we must look for other less manipulated statistics for some modicum of truth. Key statistics of employment, income and production are vital propaganda tools for the status quo, and the temptation to adjust them to manage perceptions is apparently irresistible.

Here in the U.S., unemployment statistics are a travesty of a mockery of a sham:

Real Unemployment Rate Rises To 11.4%, Difference Between Reported And Real Data Rises To Record (Zero Hedge)

Guggenheim On The US Jobs Growth "Mirage"


Ron Paul: A Homeschooling Revolution

Opposing infringement on parental control of education and promoting alternatives to government-run schools is a vital task for the liberty movement. When government usurps a parent’s right to control their child’s education, it is inevitable that the child will be taught the values of government officials, rather than of the parents. The result is an education system with a built-in bias toward statism. Over time, government-controlled education can erode the people’s knowledge of, and appreciation for, the benefits of a free society.

This is why throughout my congressional career I fought against any legislation that infringed on a parent’s right to control their child’s education, especially any legislation that limited a parent’s right to homeschool. Many so-called education experts claim that parents who are not “government-certified” educators cannot provide their children with a quality education. However, the numerous studies showing that homeschooled children out-perform their publicly-educated peers in every academic category shows that most parents are more than capable of providing their children with an excellent education.


More Than Half Of Americans Say No To Military Action In Syria, Polls Show

Don’t even think about it, Barack: Americans resoundingly tell Obama to stand down on Syria

Fully 60 percent of Americans asked about President Obama’s push for limited military action in Syria said no, that’s not a good idea, a CNN poll showed. In addition, Gallup confirmed that 51 percent of Americans are against the idea of strikes against Syria.

A new survey from CNN/ORC International of 1,022 adults finds that most — 6 in 10 — aren’t in favor of even the most limited of military missions in the war-torn nation.


The Phone Lines Melt

The phones are ringing off the hook in Congress — and virtually no one is calling in to support military intervention in Syria.

At the office of Representative Chris Gibson (R., N.Y.), who represents a swing district, the number of phone calls and e-mails from constituents regarding military action in Syria has “far exceeded the normal volume,” says Gibson aide Stephanie Valle.

In recent days, Gibson’s office has received “about 850 e-mails on it, and out of those, 840 are opposed to military intervention,” Valle adds.


Profiles In Pork

I’ll say one thing in defense of the men (and women) of the East German Stasi, the Soviet-era KGB, the Red Guards – and other such like throughout the history of totalitarian regimes: They had little real choice. It was either brutalize their fellow citizens – or join the ranks of the brutalized.

The United State is not quite there yet. It is merely at the late Czarist Russia – or Weimar Germany – stage.

Point being, one doesn’t have to sign up for law enforcement work as a Hail Mary way to avoid poverty, or the gulag . . . or the gas chamber.


Syria Video Turns The Debate On U.S. Intervention

The tape made ‘New York Times’ editors sick. Lloyd Grove on the footage of a rebel slaughter that’s upended talk of an authorized U.S. intervention. 

The raw video was so grisly, and so barbaric, that the New York Times staffers who watched and edited it for online publication were made “physically ill,” according to the newspaper’s spokeswoman. 

BREAKING NEWS: Obama Takes Sharp Turn From Syria ‘Red Line’

President Obama tells Fox News’ Chris Wallace the U.S. is willing to negotiate with Russia and Syria over proposal to have Syria turn over chemical weapons to international control.


Another Warmonger Wants Syria Attack

Because “bipartisanship” is the coin of the realm in Washington, D.C., the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama is trotting out former defense secretary Robert M. Gates to help cheerlead for the proposed American military intervention in the Syrian Civil War.

Gates was nominated to his post in 2006 by former president George W. Bush – and kept there by Obama until Leon Panetta was appointed in 2011.

“I strongly urge the Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, to approve the president’s request for authorization to use force in Syria,” Gates said. “Whatever one’s views on current U.S. policy toward Syria, failure by Congress to approve the request would, in my view, have profoundly negative and dangerous consequences for the United States not just in the Middle East but around the world both now and in the future.”


Obama Refers To UN Resolutions As 'Hocus Pocus'

The NSA Is Actively Violating The Law

The U.S. government contends that the bulk collection of U.S. phone records is authorized by section 215 of the PATRIOT Act.
Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), the author of the original USA PATRIOT Act, disagrees.

In a amicus brief filed in support of the American Civil Liberties Union's lawsuit against the National Security Agency's bulk collection of U.S. phone records, Sensenbrenner argues that the government has gone far beyond what the legislation authorizes.


Red States To Be Slammed By $12M Obamacare Ad Blitz

The White House is preparing to unleash a multimillion-dollar ad campaign in 13 red states at the end of the month designed to convince Americans to sign up for Obamacare insurance exchanges, Politico reported Thursday.

The states — Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas — will be inundated by the $12 million ad buy made by the Center for Medicare Services at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Every state but Missouri is led by a Republican governor, many of whom have made no secret of their disdain for Obamacare — and even in Missouri, a Republican-dominated legislature has set an anti-Obamacare agenda.


Good Beer And Autumn Wine Festivals On Tap For Fall

With summer fading, minds are quickly turning with the anticipation of fall favorites including fall festivals. The Good Beer Festival, Delmarva’s largest craft beer event will return to Salisbury, Maryland’s Pemberton Historical Park on October 12-13 and the Autumn Wine Festival follows just one week later on October 19-20. Advanced tickets and hotel packages for both festivals are on sale now. 

The Good Beer Festival brought to you by Tall Tales Brewery is first on tap offering festival-goers unlimited tastings from over 125 different American Craft Brews (no tasting tickets needed). A local beer garden offers the chance to experience the flavor of eight eastern shore breweries including Tall Tales, Evolution Craft Brewery, Third Wave, Burley Oak, 16 Mile, Dogfish Head, Fin City Brewing and Shorebilly. A new Firkin garden allows tasters the opportunity to try out unique, one-of-a-kind batches made exclusively for the event. In addition to great beer, the festival offers a winning and eclectic music mix with twelve bands live on stage. Sport fans need not fear, as the weekend’s biggest games will be aired in the WBOC Sports Zone. The festival also offers a Hangover 5K Run (or walk for those not up for it) on Sunday as well as a Home Brew Competition.

Just one week later, the Eastern Shore welcomes its second fall staple – the Autumn Wine Festival. Entering its 11thyear, this boutique-style event has aged to perfection. In partnership with the Maryland Wineries Association, the festival offers the perfect opportunity to explore Maryland wine from one scenic location. Over 20 wineries are anticipated this year, offering unlimited samplings (no tasting tickets). Those interested in a more intimate experience can upgrade their tickets to receive the VIP treatment, which offers a covered tent close to the main stage, exclusive tastings with vintners and winemakers, private guest appearance by Laurie Forster (The Wine Coach), a wine-making forum with MWA, festival t-shirt and goodie bag. Wine connoisseurs and first time samplers alike enjoy the annual festival, which also features live music, including a headlining performance by Dave Matthews Band collaborator Tim Reynolds and TR3 on Saturday. Earlier on Saturday, festival-goers can enjoy a laid back and hilarious take on wine tasting from award-winning sommelier Laurie Forster, The Wine Coach.

Both festivals are hosted at the beautiful Pemberton Historical Park in Salisbury, Maryland. Just off a clam shell road on the western side of Wicomico County, the park’s rural backdrop boasts sprawling meadows. In the fall, the meadows are lined with trees of vibrant orange, red and yellow. Pemberton’s 207 acres are highlighted by a charming 18th century plantation home.

Dates & Info:
Good Beer Festival
Saturday, October 12 / Sunday, October 13 from 12:30pm to 6:30pm

Autumn Wine Festival
Saturday, October 19 / Sunday, October 20 from 12:30pm-6:30pm

Tickets for the Good Beer Festival or Autumn Wine Festival are:
Available in Advance (sold until 6pm Friday of festival weekend): 1-day $25/2-day $40/Non-tasting ticket 1-day $5
At the Gate: 1-day $35; Non-tasting ticket $10
Autumn Wine Festival Only: VIP 1-Day $55 / 2-Day $90

North Carolina GOP Wants To End State Income Tax

Some North Carolina Republican legislators are working to make their state the eighth in the nation without a state income tax.

Republican North Carolina State Sen. Bob Rucho said on Wednesday that he plans to push for his state to end its state income tax and replace it with a consumption-based sales tax. Rucho told the Washington Post that the bleak economy of the last several years has made state revenues uneven, resulting in challenges for annual budget planning.

"We want to get away from that and go to a more flat consumption-based tax on sales taxes, both goods and services, and in return, we'll say, 'We'll go to zero with the income tax.' And that's something we think we can achieve. It just takes time to get there," said Rucho.



A 107-year-old man is dead after SWAT officers shot back at him during a standoff at a home in the southeast Arkansas city of Pine Bluff, police say.

But friends and fellow church members say that Monroe Isadore was legally blind and nearly deaf and shouldn’t have died that way.

“I’m in shock today,” Larry Smith, who attended church with Isadore at New Direction Baptist, told KLRT-TV.


Dems In Disarray Over Syria

While President Obama is plenty busy in Russia today trying to build international support for his call to strike Syria, he’s been doing some long distance diplomacy back home as members of his own party recoil from his call to arms. Obama called senators to drum up support for military action. The White House has also ditched a scheduled presidential trip to Los Angeles next week in order to keep selling in Washington. Obama heads home today, but Secretary of State John Kerry picks up the ball overseas, departing for Lithuania this morning for coalition building after a series of confrontations with Congress. With Republicans uneasy about the overall strategy, a crumbling Democratic coalition poses problems for the president’s plan.


Effort To Defund ObamaCare Tries To Regain Its Momentum This Week

Conservatives will take their defund-ObamaCare push back to Washington, D.C., this week with an event to rally support and combat a wide shift in focus away from the issue.

Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and a slew of House members and Tea Party leaders will host a rally Tuesday to pressure leaders not to pay for healthcare reform in the next bill to fund the government.

The anti-funding movement, which dominated headlines at the beginning of the summer, has not gained enough support to assure victory as Congress enters a series of fiscal negotiations over the next two months.


Psych Test

If you start with a cage containing five monkeys and inside the cage, hang a banana on a string from the top and then you place a set of stairs under the banana, before long a monkey will go to the stairs and climb toward the banana.

As soon as he touches the stairs, you spray all the other monkeys with cold water. After a while another monkey makes an attempt with same result ... all the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it. Now, put the cold water away.

Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one.

The new monkey sees the banana and attempts to climb the stairs. To his shock, all of the other monkeys beat the crap out of him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs he will be assaulted. Next, remove another of the original five monkeys, replacing it with a new one.

The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm, because he is now part of the "team". Then, replace a third original monkey with a new one, followed by the fourth, then the fifth. Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs, he is attacked. Now, the monkeys that are beating him up have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs. Neither do they know why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey. Finally, having replaced all of the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys will have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, not one of the monkeys will try to climb the stairway for the banana. Why, you ask? Because in their minds...that is the way it has always been!

This, my friends, is how Congress operates...and this is why, from time to time:

ALL of the monkeys need to be REPLACED AT THE SAME TIME.

Mideast Expert: We've Seen This Movie Before

The Obama administration is currently laying out its case to persuade the war weary American public that military force is justified against the standing regime in Syria because President Bashar Assad has supposedly used chemical weapons on his own civilian population in the outskirts of Damascus.

As reprehensible as that accusation may be (and it is not clear if it is correct) there is no compelling U.S. national security interest in interceding in another sectarian civil war in the Middle East.

President Barack Obama’s words have boxed him into a corner; a year ago he said that if chemical weapons were used against a civilian population then President Assad would have crossed “a red line.”

As noble as the intent behind such rhetoric may be, it doesn’t justify U.S. military intervention into a conflict that has turned into an ugly civil war.


Clash Over Common Core

Opposition grows as national education standards approach

Erika Russell, a mother of four from Maine, had no intention of embroiling herself in the fight over Common Core.

As she put it, “I sent my kids to public school, so I wouldn't have to worry about what they’re learning.”

Then her then-9-year-old, second-grade daughter returned home from school one day in January of 2012 with a frown.

“She asked me, ‘Mom, Can you home school me?’ I said, ‘What about your friends?’ and she just told me she would see them at sports. Then, I knew something was wrong and I should start looking into this.”

Over the next 18 months, the 36-year-old Russell, who resides in Sidney in the central part of the state, helped found “No Common Core Maine,” a coalition of concerned parents, educators and activists– and one of a growing number of organizations nationwide who have made it their mission to stop Common Core's implementation.


If It Wasn't Syria, It Would Have Been Something Else

It is very possible that the president will not obtain a joint authorization to bomb Syria; if he chooses to go ahead and attack anyway, Obama will incite a constitutional crisis—the first time in history that a president has decided to go to war against the declared wishes of Congress. The public and the courts will adjudicate the legality of that act, and it would be contentious.

So the corner that Obama has painted himself into is now inescapable. Defying Congress will put the country into a Watergate/Monicagate mess. Not doing anything will confirm the administration’s impotence and only enhance Russia, Iran, Assad, China, Islamists, and almost anyone else who does not like the U.S. Doing something small, with or without congressional approval, will be looked upon as a cynical waste of human lives to restore Obama’s credibility, the sort of craven, immoral political act that a younger Obama made a career out of mocking. Doing something big will invite public and global outrage if only moderately successful, and doom the Obama presidency if unsuccessful.


US Intelligence Officials To Obama: It wasn't Assad

A dozen former US military and intelligence officials have told US President Barack Obama that they are picking up information that proves Syrian government was not responsible for the chemical attack near Damascus on August 21.

“We regret to inform you that some of our former co-workers are telling us, categorically, that contrary to the claims of your administration, the most reliable intelligence shows that Bashar al-Assad was NOT responsible for the chemical incident that killed and injured Syrian civilians on August 21, and that British intelligence officials also know this,” they wrote to Obama.


O’Malley Joins Call For Minimum Wage Hike, But Not Corporate Tax Cut

Throughout his two terms as governor, Martin O’Malley has portrayed himself in words and deeds as a champion of Maryland’s working class. He’s a neo-New Dealer who sees his political future through the lens of becoming known as “the working family’s governor.”

Now O’Malley has joined the Democratic stampede to support a major jump in the state’s minimum wage. He has also made it clear he won’t be sponsoring any bills to lower Maryland’s corporate income tax as a sop to the business community.

Neither move is unexpected.


Report: World Entering A Period Of Global Cooling

A report reveals that the global cooling that began in 1997 may continue until mid-century.

A cool Arctic summer has resulted in 60 percent more ocean area covered in ice than last year, the Mail Online reports. That has left several yachts and one cruise ship trying to sail the Northwest Passage either stranded or searching for a new route.

Many top scientists who had predicted a continuing rise in global temperatures after the two decades of increases in the 1980s and '90s are backtracking, the Mail reports.

"The pause – which has now been accepted as real by every major climate research centre – is important, because the models’ predictions of ever-increasing global temperatures have made many of the world’s economies divert billions of pounds into ‘green’ measures to counter climate change," the Mail said.


Court Martial For Christian By Lesbian Commander

Updating our earlier report on Senior Master Sergeant Phillip Monk, a Christian serving in the Air Force whose unit is now commanded by a lesbian: according to Monk’s complaint filed with his superiors, he was relieved of duty for refusing his commander’s order to say he supports gay marriage.

Now the Air Force has taken the first steps to criminally investigate Monk for talking to the media about his situation. Despite the fact that earlier this year the Obama-Hagel Pentagon said they would never court-martial a service member for their Christian faith, they have taken the first steps to possibly court-martial Monk.


Benghazi Whistleblower: I've Been 'Punished' For Speaking Out


NASA Launches Robotic Explorer To Moon; Spacecraft Has Equipment Trouble

NASA's newest robotic explorer rocketed into space late Friday in an unprecedented moonshot from Virginia that dazzled sky watchers along the East Coast.

But the LADEE spacecraft quickly ran into equipment trouble, and while NASA assured everyone early Saturday that the lunar probe was safe and on a perfect track for the moon, officials acknowledged the problem needs to be resolved in the next two to three weeks.

S. Peter Worden, director of NASA's Ames Research Center in California, which developed the spacecraft, told reporters he's confident everything will be working properly in the next few days.


Was Your Chicken Nugget Made In China?

Here's a bit of news that might make you drop that chicken nugget midbite.

Just before the start of the long holiday weekend last Friday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture quietly announced that it was ending a ban on processed chicken imports from China. The kicker: These products can now be sold in the U.S. without a country-of-origin label.

For starters, just four Chinese processing plants will be allowed to export cooked chicken products to the U.S., as first reported by Politico. The plants in question passed USDA inspection in March. Initially, these processors will only be allowed to export chicken products made from birds that were raised in the U.S. and Canada. Because of that, the poultry processors won't be required to have a USDA inspector on site, as The New York Times notes, adding:

"And because the poultry will be processed, it will not require country-of-origin labeling. Nor will consumers eating chicken noodle soup from a can or chicken nuggets in a fast-food restaurant know if the chicken came from Chinese processing plants."


Government Okays Sale AOf Smithfield Foods To China

The U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States will allow the sale of Smithfield Foods to a Chinese company, Shuanghui International.

Smithfield is already the world's largest pork producer and processor, with facilities in 26 U.S. states, including the largest slaughterhouse and meat-processing plant in the world in Tar Heel, N.C.

Smithfield also operates in Mexico and 10 European countries, with a global total of more than 46,000 employees, the company says.

The sale to the Chinese company is still subject to approval from Smithfield shareholders, who are scheduled to vote on it Sept. 24, according to a Cable News Network (CNN) report. If approved, it would be the largest acquisition of a U.S. company by a Chinese buyer.


NSA Can Access Most Smartphone Data, Report Says

The U.S. National Security Agency is able to crack protective measures on iPhones, BlackBerry and Android devices, giving it access to users' data on all major smartphones, according to a report Sunday in German news weekly Der Spiegel.

The magazine cited internal documents from the NSA and its British counterpart GCHQ in which the agencies describe setting up dedicated teams for each type of phone as part of their effort to gather intelligence on potential threats such as terrorists.

The data obtained this way includes contacts, call lists, SMS traffic, notes and location information, Der Spiegel reported. The documents don't indicate that the NSA is conducting mass surveillance of phone users but rather that these techniques are used to eavesdrop on specific individuals, the magazine said.


Households On Foodstamps Rise To New Record High: More Americans Live In Poverty Than The Population Of Spain

There was much discussion of Friday's "disappointing" non-farm payrolls goal-seeked, seasonally adjusted, X-13-ARIMA conceived jobs "number." The conclusion was that it showed an economy which one year after the start of QEternity was growing nowhere near where the Fed has projected and hoped it would be at this time. But in addition to the BLS jobs number, there was another just as important number that was released on Friday: the monthly foodstamp (SNAP) participation update. There was no discussion of this particular number and for good reason. If the NFP number was at least meant to show some economic stability, if subpar, the monthly foodstamp update shows month after month that the greatest depression is nowhere near ending for millions of American living in poverty (83% of SNAP households  have gross income at or below 100% of the poverty guideline ($19,530 for a family of 3 in 2013), and these households receive about 91% of all benefits. 61% of SNAP households have gross income at or below 75% of the poverty guideline or $14,648 for a family of 3 in 2013).

To wit: in June, the number of households receiving foodstamps rose to 23.117 million, an increase of 45.9k in one month, and also a new record high. As for the average monthly benefit per household: $274.55, just off record lows.


Delaware State Police Assist Milford Police Department With Fatal Crash

Location: South DuPont Highway (US113) southbound, north of Marvel Road, Milford, DE

Date of Occurrence: Sunday September 8, 2013 at approximately 10:24 p.m.

Operator and Vehicle Information:

Operator #1: Jeffrey A. White, 52, Georgetown, DE
Vehicle #1: 2003 Harley-Davidson motorcycle

Operator #2: Brian L. Williams, 34, Laurel, DE
Vehicle #2: 2004 Chevrolet Blazer

Milford, DE- The Delaware State Police Collision Reconstruction Unit is currently investigating a fatal crash that occurred within Milford city limits.

The incident occurred around 10:24 p.m. Sunday evening as Jeffrey A. White was operating a 2003 Harley-Davidson motorcycle southbound on South DuPont Highway (US113), north of Marvel Road at a high rate a speed. As he approached slower moving traffic, he began making aggressive passing maneuvers. Brian L. Williams was operating a 2004 Chevrolet Blazer southbound on US113 in the left lane when the motorcycle began to pass and change lanes from the right to the left lane striking the Blazer’s right front fender. The motorcycle overturned and ejected White onto the roadway where he was pronounced dead. The Blazer made an abrupt turn to the left after the impact and entered into the median where it overturned onto its left side.

Brian Williams, who was properly restrained, was not injured in the crash.

It is unknown whether drugs or alcohol were a factor on behalf of Jeffrey White. He was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.

The State Police Collision Reconstruction Unit was contacted by Milford PD to assume the investigation into this crash. US113 southbound was closed for approximately 5 hours while the incident was investigated and cleared.

If anyone may have witnessed this incident, they are asked to contact Master Corporal K. Argo at 302-644-5020 ext. 117 or by utilizing the Delaware State Police Mobile Crime Tip Application available to download at: Information may also be provided by calling Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1-800-TIP-3333, via the internet at, or by sending an anonymous tip by text to 274637 (CRIMES) using the keyword "DSP."

Spotted Near The US Embassy In Lebanon

There are some in Congress who may be fooled by a few YouTube videos, but the international community, especially the part of it that may soon be on the receiving end of a few hundred of Raytheon's finest, is proving far less gullible.
A protester holds a burning poster against a possible US military strike on Syria, near the US embassy in Lebanon, AFP.

Will Congress Support Military Action In Syria?

As members of Congress consider President Obama’s request to authorize military force in Syria, following evidence that President Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons killed over 1,400 people, a ThinkProgress analysis of the public statements of 413 Representatives found that 223 lawmakers have either decisively ruled out supporting the measure or say they are unlikely to back it. Just 39 of the 413 members of the House of Representatives said they will definitely or likely vote in favor or the resolution.

A vote in the House is not expected until next week at the earliest. 151 members have publicly said they are undecided and the positions of 20 members are unknown. All told, 324 members either have not decided, or indicated they are willing to consider changing their position.


Tax Change Affects Restaurant Tips For Large Groups

An updated tax rule is causing restaurants to rethink the practice of adding automatic tips to the tabs of large parties.

Starting in January, the Internal Revenue Service will begin classifying those automatic gratuities as service charges—which it treats as regular wages, subject to payroll tax withholding—instead of tips, which restaurants leave up to the employees to report as income.

The change would mean more paperwork and added costs for the restaurants—and a potential financial hit for waiters and waitresses who live on their tips but don't always report them fully.

Darden Restaurants Inc., DRI +1.26% owner of Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse and Red Lobster, has long included automatic 18% tips on the bill for parties of eight or more at its more than 2,100 restaurants, but is experimenting with eliminating them because of the IRS ruling, said a spokesman.


NAACP President To Step Down

NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Jealous, who is credited with boosting the finances and helping to stabilize the nation's largest civil rights organization, said Sunday that he plans to step down at the end of the year.

The Baltimore-based National Association for the Advancement of Colored People said that its rosters of online activists and donors have grown tremendously during his five-year tenure. Jealous was the group's youngest-ever leader when he was hired as its president at age 35 in 2008.

In a written statement Sunday, Jealous, now 40, said he plans to pursue teaching at a university and wants to spend time with his young family.


Statement From Governor Martin O’Malley On NAACP President Ben Jealous

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Governor Martin O’Malley issued the following statement on National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) President Ben Jealous's decision to step down as head of the NAACP at the end of the year:

“Under Ben Jealous’s leadership, the NAACP has continued its fight for fairness and equality across our nation. He has served as a voice for those whose voices have been silenced, and a remarkable example of what we can do together for justice and opportunity.

“Ben shares our belief in the dignity of every individual. Thanks to his unwavering partnership in Maryland, together, we’ve been able to move our State forward. Ben has helped us repeal the death penalty, pass the Dream Act, ensure marriage equality, and expand voting in our State - among so many other great achievements.

“I wish Ben well in his future endeavors.”

Now...One More Thing To Worry About!

by Delegate Mike McDermott

Today, the Maryland State Police announced a new policy which is currently allowing non-certified personnel from a several statewide organizations to have complete access to the MSP Form 77’s filed by individuals seeking to purchase a Regulated Firearm. The decision to allow non-vetted, non police personnel to access these forms is unprecedented and is part of a plan to help the MSP get caught up with the tremendous backlog they currently face with applications.
The Form 77 contains an incredible amount of identity information including: name, birthdate, address, Social Security number, Drivers License number, and information relevant to the firearm being purchased. With so many issues surrounding identity theft and compromised personal information, citizens filling out these forms do so with the idea that the only people visiting and accessing the information are law enforcement personnel. Law enforcement personnel must have background checks completed, polygraph exams, drug testing, psychological evaluations, etc. before they are considered for employment. This type of extensive vetting insures, to the best of the governments ability, that the individual is trustworthy and can be trusted with various types of sensitive information and access to confidential information. Vetting of this nature is important.
Cutting corners by allowing non law enforcement personnel to provide clerical support to an overwhelmed MSP may appear to be a good idea, but the risk cannot be overlooked. Many folks are expressing various degrees of outrage that this is taking place. They already feel threatened with the loss of liberty by the current implementation of SB-281, now they feel violated by a process that they have submitted to as law abiding folks.
To be sure, the criminals are not submitting their information for review. Their identities will remain secure.
This wave of applications should have been seen as it was approaching more than a year ago. The increase in firearms purchases was a sign of things to come and should have clued in the governor and MSP to prepare to hire and expand the Firearm’s Section. Having failed to take this type of action doomed the state to find itself in the current predicament. Any business in the private sector that failed in such a way would already have gone out of business.
Perhaps, if this use of personnel from various state agencies was seen as a possible means of getting caught up, those assigned should have been vetted and had background checks performed on them many months ago. At least this would have provided some degree of reassurance to the folks who are submitting these applications. As it sits, citizens can only wonder if this action will come back to haunt them and their families in the future.
Since it appears these outside agency personnel are being utilized in an overtime capacity, would it not have been prudent to simply utilize overtime to have other MSP personnel do the same duty? Or perhaps the other state law enforcement agencies (and there are many) could have been tasked as well over the past several months to insure that only vetted, certified staff would be accessing these records. Had these options been utilized over the past 6 months, we would have avoided this massive use of non law enforcement staff in the “ ninth” hour.
I have contacted the MSP Legislative Liaison and shared my concerns and those of the thousands of firearms applicants across Maryland who, once again, feel betrayed by their state. The reasoning behind their decision is included in their press release from today.

I join with the vast number of those who have contacted my office on this matter and express my great concern over these actions. A failure to plan on the part of those who should have known better is not a good reason to compromise our standards and process.
I will be contacting Colonel Marcus Brown and Governor Martin O’Malley to give voice to these concerns and I urge all firearms owners in Maryland to contact their offices as well and voice your concerns over this practice.

Citing German Intelligence

Syrian forces may have used gas without Assad's permission, says German daily

Commanders had been urging Assad for authorization to use chemical weapons for more than four months but hadn't received it, Bild reports based on intercepted radio messages.
Syrian government forces may have carried out a chemical weapons attack close to Damascus without the personal permission of President Bashar Assad, Germany's Bild am Sonntag paper reported on Sunday, citing German intelligence.

Syrian brigade and division commanders had been asking the Presidential Palace to allow them to use chemical weapons for the last four-and-a-half months, according to radio messages intercepted by German spies, but permission had always been denied, the paper said.

This could mean Assad may not have personally approved the attack close to Damascus on August 21 in which more than 1,400 are estimated to have been killed, intelligence officers suggested.


SFD Calls For Service 9-8-13

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BREAKING NEWS: Assad Threatens 'Repercussions' If US Attacks Syria

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad threatens ‘repercussions’ from any American strike on Syria.

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