PNN - 8/26
RWS 7:00pm - 7:10pm
Dr De Luca 7:10pm – 7:30pm
Trish Sheldon 7:31pm – 7:45pm
Matt Keating 7:46pm – 7:58pm
Gayle Faath 8:00pm – 8:15pm
Ray Seamans 8:16pm – 8:45pm
Meredith Ockman 8:46pm – 9:00pm
Today we celebrate Women's Equality Day!
92 years ago today, women in the United States were granted the right to vote, when the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was certified. Thanks to those women who struggled before us to provide us with this right and set forth a positive path for our future.
• Planned Parenthood's Big Pink Bus Rally at UCF: Set for August 28th, from 4-6pm, Planned Parenthood Action Fund's (PPAF) Big Pink Bus will be touring the nation and making a stop in Orlando, FL! The bus will be parked at UCF's Recreation & Wellness Center and will attract supporters from across the region. We have an excellent speaker line-up for the rally and will lead a volunteers out to canvas afterwards! If you are driving to the rally and do not have a UCF decal, the cost to park will be $5. Garage B will be the best garage to park in. Rain may interfere with this event, so stay tuned for updates from me and the PPAF team!
• Planned Parenthood's Rally in Tampa: Many of you have also signed up to join PPAF in Tampa for the Women are Watching Rally being held at the RNC Convention on Wednesday, August 29th! This is an incredibly exciting trip and is free to all attendees! We will be leaving Orlando at 12pm and should hopefully return by 6pm. The bus pick-up location from Orlando will be the UCF bus stations between Garage A and Garage I. Guests to the campus may park in either parking garage with the purchase of a $5 parking decal. Since it is going to be a long day, we would encourage everyone to bring snacks!
Peace Rally in Tampa - [PNN Listen Anytime]
Vigil for Peace - Tampa... as IVAW, VFP, MSFO and Code Pink!
Date: Wednesday August 29th, 2012
Time: 11AM - 12:30 PM -- for the lunchtime crowd!
3699 W GANDY BLVD
TAMPA, FL 33611
Ample parking available at the Publix/Target parking lot on Gandy. Vigil for Peace is on the corner of Dale Mabry Hwy and Gandy Blvd just two kilometers North of the main gate of MacDill USAFB, the headquarters of US Central Command and US Special "Black" Operations.
WAR vs HUMAN NEEDS - 6 p.m. Bring-a-Dish, Eat, Socialize
7 p.m. - Legislative work for peace and human needs, Community Education on National Priorities, Discussions,
January session with Judith LeBlanc, national Peace Action Field Coordinator, your initiatives.
At Benders in Deerfield Beach.
Please (re)confirm your attendance, preferably the end of the prior week, August 24.
If you’re bringing a dish (for 5?)– what is it?
Will send out details – menu and directions, Monday, Aug 27.
MUST HAVE LIST OF ATTENDEES FOR ENTRANCE TO GATED COMMUNITY.
If you live in Sarasota, Florida, we invited you to join Amy Goodman and Democracy Now! for a special event to benefit WSLR 96.5-LPFM on Friday, August 31 at 12pm! Please share this event with friends and family you know in the area!
"Walk for Children of Syria"
Saturday September 8, 2012 (5:00 - 7:00 pm)
Bay-front Park - Downtown Miami (Torch of Freedom)
301 N. Biscayne Blvd. Miami, FL 33122
National call in day September 24
Call Assistant U.S. Attorney Barry Jonas at 312-353-5300 x 68027
Tell him to "End the investigation of anti-war and international solidarity activists."
SCPA Progressive Fest, Communities in Action
Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012 from 11:00 to 5:00 pm
Eau Gallie Civic Center
1551 Highland Avenue, Melbourne
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1. Facebook craazee
The former Marine who was detained in connection with Facebook posts critical of the government is being held in a psychiatric ward, Peter Bacqué of the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.
"I'm currently in John Randolph in the psychiatric ward being held against my will," Brandon Raub, 26, said in a telephone interview with the Times-Dispatch. "They were concerned about me calling for the arrest of government officials."
Raub accused the government of lying about 9/11 and spoke of "starting a Revolution."
Lawyers from The Rutherford Institute represented Brandon Raub during the three-hour hearing today at the John Randolph Medical Center and released a statement, saying Raub has been sentenced to "up to 30 days’ further confinement in a VA psych ward" after "government officials again pointed to Raub’s Facebook posts as the sole reason for their concern and for his continued incarceration."
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/former-marine-brandon-raub-is-being-held-in-a-psychiatric-ward-over-facebook-posts-about-911-2012-8#ixzz248xZsXI0
According to Raub's mother, authorities from the FBI, Secret Service and Chesterfield County PD came to their door on Thursday evening, questioned Raub about his Facebook posts, then handcuffed him and placed him in a Chesterfield PD squad car before taking him to John Randolph Psychiatric Hospital in Hopewell, Va.
Both the FBI and Secret Service said Raub was not arrested or charged, but the Rutherford Institute statement points out that "if the police have put handcuffs on you and you’re being held against your will, that qualifies as an arrest."
When asked about why Raub was placed in a psychiatric ward, FBI Richmond spokeswoman told us that the FBI "had nothing to do with that" and that the FBI typically doesn't "make determinations such as that."
"We went out to interview him because of complaints that our office had received about people coming across his posts and perceiving them as threatening so our office along with Chesterfield County Police Department on Thursday," Rybiski told us. "When we left we had not arrested him, we had not placed our hands on him, we did not detain him and we did not charge him."
Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary said: "The Secret Service assisted the FBI with the interview. He was not arrested by the Secret Service. The Secret Service will continue to monitor the situation. We have no further comment at this time."
The Chesterfield PD – who had previously said the situation "was an FBI matter and we were just there to assist them" – released this statement (emphasis ours):
Chesterfield Police assisted federal authorities in their efforts to interview Brandon J. Raub on Thursday, Aug. 16. After speaking to Raub, officers believed him to be in need of further evaluation.
Chesterfield officers at the scene contacted Chesterfield Mental Health Crisis Intervention. Crisis workers recommended that police take Raub into custody and bring him in for evaluation.
Chesterfield police took Raub into custody for evaluation in accordance with Virginia State Code § 37.2-808 Emergency custody.
Raub was placed in handcuffs after he resisted officers’ attempts to take him into custody.
Raub was evaluated by a Chesterfield mental health official, who determined that he should be held under a temporary [detention] order and transported to John Randolph Medical Center for additional evaluation.
Raub was not arrested and he faces no criminal charges in Chesterfield.
The Virginia statute states that a mental health professional can decide to issue a temporary detention order if "it appears ... that the person (i) has a mental illness and that there exists a substantial likelihood that, as a result of mental illness, the person will, in the near future, (a) cause serious physical harm to himself or others as evidenced by recent behavior causing, attempting, or threatening harm and other relevant information, if any, or (b) suffer serious harm due to his lack of capacity to protect himself from harm or to provide for his basic human needs, (ii) is in need of hospitalization or treatment, and (iii) is unwilling to volunteer or incapable of volunteering for hospitalization or treatment."
It should be noted that the authority on whether or not Raub displayed signs of mental illness lies with the trained Chesterfield mental health official or officials who evaluated him in person.
"I really love America, and I think that idea that you can be detained and sent somewhere without due process and a lawyer … is crazy," Raub said.
Raub said he served as a Marine in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2005 to 2011, was a combat engineer sergeant and does not own a gun. His mother said he returned from Afghanistan about a year ago and does not have PTSD or violent tendencies.
Raub wrote five articles about economics and the Richmond Liberty Movement for the website Don't Tread On Me and his Linked-In profile says he owns a small coin business through the Numis Network.
John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute, said the following: “For government officials to not only arrest Brandon Raub for doing nothing more than exercising his First Amendment rights but to actually force him to undergo psychological evaluations and detain him against his will goes against every constitutional principle this country was founded upon. This should be a wake-up call to Americans that the police state is here.”
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/former-marine-brandon-raub-is-being-held-in-a-psychiatric-ward-over-facebook-posts-about-911-2012-8#ixzz248xkGj6W
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Ex-Marine ‘Detained’ For Facebook Posts [Updated]
First the establishment started going after current serving military men for their outspoken political views on Facebook and other web venues, men like Marine Sergeant Gary Stein. Now, it seems the government is going after veterans as well. This is the classic pattern of a burgeoning totalitarian state; attack a small group first (outspoken serving military) which the public ignores because it affects them little personally, then slowly expand out to eventually include everyone else. To all those insipid bottom feeders out there who refused to defend Gary Stein's right to free speech, here is what you have wrought. Because of your ignorance, the government has been able to set a social precedent which they now plan to apply to a whole new group of people, starting with former Marine Brandon Raub. The common statist slave will give the typical coward's response, which would sound a little something like this:
"...When are people going to learn that Facebook isn't private? You would have to be stupid to express such views where everyone can see..."
"They didn't arrest him, they just 'detained' him..."
"He's former military and should be 'ashamed' of his comments against the government., blah blah blah, etc..."
The bottom line is, the 1st Amendment is NOT conditional. ALL speech must be protected, no matter who you are, or where you happen to be speaking. Just because our current criminal government decides 1st Amendment protections do not apply to Facebook does not mean they have the authority to make such distinctions. In fact, the Constitution explicitly outlines how they are restricted from making such distinctions. If a government entity, ANY government entity, attempts to violate Constitutional restrictions, it must be removed by any means necessary.
Take note that the FBI used the accusation of "terrorist threats" by Brandon Raub as an excuse for the arrest even though there is no indication that any actual threats were present on his Facebook page..
(Brandon's comments included observations that 9-11 was done by the government (even going to such length, and an interestingly detailed thesis, of providing evidence to augment this), the War on Terror is a lie, Americans are killing innocent people in the ME, the current federal banking system is corrupt and unfeasible to Americans, and that the George Bush's family rapes little children)
I would say that all of these claims have enough circumstantial evidence behind them to warrant a serious independent investigation, and even if they didn't, there is no law against "conspiracy theory", at least not yet...
The police and FBI also failed to read Raub his Miranda Rights. Could this be one of the first public instances of the enforcement of NDAA detainment provisions against a U.S. citizen as a so called "domestic terrorist"? You know, those detainment provisions that Neo-Cons and Neo-Libs alike claim "don't exist"?
My question for the statist slaves is, how soon will it be before they get to you? Do you really believe your complacency and apathy will save you? Has that kind of philosophy saved any slave under any other tyranny of the past? This is NOT a free country anymore, and if we do not act to defend each individual who suffers under the weight of bureaucratic oppression, then everyone will lose everything. It is time to pick a side.
update Raub 8/24
Facebook-posting Marine veteran released from hospital 24 Aug 2012 The shifting fortunes of Marine veteran Brandon J. Raub moved in his favor Thursday after a Hopewell judge criticized his forced relocation to a veterans hospital in western Virginia for mental treatment and then ordered him released. Hopewell Circuit Judge W. Allan Sharrett found that a document ordering Raub's transfer this week from a Hopewell hospital to the Salem VA Medical Center was faulty and "so devoid of any factual allegations that it could not be reasonably expected to give rise to a case or controversy." Raub, 26, was released from the Salem hospital shortly after 5 p.m.
Judge orders release of US Marine detained for Facebook posts --They detained him without charge and admitted him to a local hospital for 'evaluation.' 23 Aug 2012 On the basis that there was zero reason to detain a retired Marine and commit him to a medical facility for psychiatric evaluation, a Virginia judge has demanded that Brandon Raub be released from custody immediately. Raub, 26, had his home visited one week earlier by FBI, Secret Service and local law enforcement agents who expressed concern over a series of Facebook posts he had made on his public social networking profile.
Facebook posts land Marine vet in psychiatric ward 20 Aug 2012 US police reportedly detained a Marine Corps veteran in a mental hospital over Facebook posts, triggering outrage in the online community. Brandon J. Raub claimed the FBI was concerned about his "calling for the arrest of government officials." Raub, 26, is now being held in the John Randolph Behavioral Health psychiatric ward. Raub was confronted by FBI agents at his home on Thursday and taken away in handcuffs. He was then reportedly questioned over several incendiary Facebook posts he made. "They were concerned about me calling for the arrest of government officials," Raub said. [OMG! I call for same, like, daily! And, I'm not going to STOP asserting the FACT that 9/11 was an inside job, six ways to Sunday. --LRP]
3. Record radiation found off Japan
Record levels of radioactive caesium were detected in fish caught within 20km of Japan’s damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, news reports said yesterday.
The operator Tokyo Electric Power Co said Tuesday it had found 25,800 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive caesium in greenling, 258 times higher than the government safety standard.
Fishing in waters off the plant has been voluntarily restricted since the nuclear disaster at the plant, which went into meltdown after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Less than a month after the start of the disaster, Tokyo Electric dumped more than 11,000 tons of wastewater containing radioactive substances into the Pacific.
The previous record of radioactive contamination in fish was 18,700 becquerels per kilogram detected in cherry salmon caught in March, according to the Fisheries Agency.
Wakao Hanaoka, a Greenpeace Japan official, said the government now needs to carry out a full investigation of radioactive contamination in a wide range of sea areas off Fukushima, which has not been done yet.
The organisation’s surveys show higher levels of radioactive contamination were found in fish and seaweed sampled in areas further from the Fukushima plant.
Factors that affect the spread of contamination include ocean currents and seabed configuration, Hanaoka added. DPA
4. More GM Food Data
Southern California remains the proverbial battlefield for GMO labeling, an increased interest is growing over ways to actually start avoiding GMOs in your daily life. By far the best tip, which may not be applicable at all times, is to stick to high quality organic sources. Preferably 100% organic or locally grown by organic-based farmers. This certainly is not always an option, so I've compiled a quick 'cheat sheet' of the top genetically modified crops and substances that you can remember when avoiding GMOs in your daily life.
Produce items like yellow squash and papaya are considered by many worldwide to be health foods, however chances are that these food items among about 8 others I will be discussing today are heavily modified. Keep in mind that Monsanto is continually on a mission to dominate virtually 100% of the food supply, having already conquered upwards of 90% conservatively of staple crops like soybeans and corn.
A number of non-organic food products actually do exist that are free of GMOs, but it is important to learn the deceptive marketing tricks used by fake 'health conscious' brands who wish only to trick you into purchasing their GMO-laden garbage. As it was revealed back in October of 2011, many 'eco-friendly' brands are actually sporting the presence of GMOs within their products. Even products that have a "Non-GMO" label on their package! That's right, it's vitally important that the Non-GMO product sticker states that it is "verified" by the Non-GMO project or another source. Otherwise, it has been found to be a worthless claim.
Is it any wonder then that many of these 'eco-friendly' and 'natural' producers like Kashi have actually dished out millions of dollars to fight against GMO labeling in California? It becomes increasingly more clear which companies simply do not care about your health when you examine who owns them at the highest level. Kashi, for example is owned by Kellogg. You can actually view the chart on our site that shows which mega corporations own many phony 'natural' entities.
Top List for Avoiding GMOs
Outside of avoiding these companies and doing your best to purchase organic produce that starts with the number 9 on the PLU code sticker (the sticker on fruits and vegetables), here are 10 foods that are the most likely to contain GMOs that you should avoid when not consuming an organic source:
5. Aspartame (yes, aspartame is genetically modified!
8. Yellow squash
9. Dairy (more than 1/3 of non-organic dairy products in the United States still contain Monsanto's genetically engineered hormone known as rBGH. Made from cloned DNA, the hormone is currently banned in over 27 countries).
10.Cotton (in the form of cotton oil).
Until proper legislation is enacted to label or ban GMOs entirely, it's important to protect yourself and your family on a daily basis from the effects of genetically altered food staples.
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5. Tampa Authorities Empty Jail In Anticipation of Mass Arrests at GOP Convention
Thousands of Republicans from around the country will descend upon Tampa, Florida next week for the Republican National Convention, and if recent history is any guide, so too will hundreds of protesters.
To prepare, Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee has ordered the Orient Road Jail, a 1,700 bed prison in Tampa, emptied, relocating some inmates to another nearby prison and releasing others on bond. The entire facility has been transformed into a one-stop booking, detention, and bond-issuance center capable of handling large numbers of arrests, which begs the question: will Tampa police keep demonstrators on a short leash?
Sheriff Gee says no, but also indicated in a letter posted on a county website that his department would have very little tolerance for anything more than chanting and holding up signs:
To the agitators and anarchists who want only to bring a dark cloud to this event, let me be clear: criminal activity and civil disturbances will not be tolerated and enforcement actions will be swift.
Four years ago, police in Minneapolis, Minnesota were criticized for their treatment of protesters and reporters covering the RNC, and were even forced to settle in an excessive force lawsuit. And in 2004, police in New York City were found to have been surveilling dozens of protest groups for months leading up to the RNC, even embedding undercover officers within several larger groups.
6. A poetic treatment - of the Adkins Axiom
you can get pregnant in a car
you can get pregnant in a bar
you can get pregnant on a hill
you can get pregnant on the pill
you can get pregnant near or far
it doesn't matter who you are
you can get pregnant in a house
you can get pregnant by a louse
you can get pregnant here or there
you can get pregnant anywhere
in a plane or on a train
in a box or with a fox
standing up or sitting down
it matters not when sperms around
you can get pregnant if your raped
science truths you can't escape
I do not like the awful lies
that hurt the ones whom it implies
can control their conception
through "legitimate rape" sperm detection
You should not lead our sacred land
if anti-science is your plan
I do not like what you are saying
I do not like it, Mr. Akin
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7. The Pursuit of Julian Assange Is an Assault on Freedom and a Mockery of Journalism
The British government's threat to invade the Ecuadorean Embassy in London and seize Julian Assange is of historic significance. David Cameron, the former PR man to a television industry huckster and arms salesman to sheikdoms, is well placed to dishonor international conventions that have protected Britons in places of upheaval. Just as Tony Blair's invasion of Iraq led directly to the acts of terrorism in London on 7 July 2005, so Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague have compromised the safety of British representatives across the world.
Threatening to abuse a law designed to expel murderers from foreign embassies, while defaming an innocent man as an "alleged criminal," Hague has made a laughing stock of Britain across the world, though this view is mostly suppressed in Britain. The same brave newspapers and broadcasters that have supported Britain's part in epic bloody crimes, from the genocide in Indonesia to the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, now attack the "human rights record" of Ecuador, whose real crime is to stand up to the bullies in London and Washington.
It is as if the Olympics happy-clappery has been subverted overnight by a revealing display of colonial thuggery. Witness the British army officer-cum-BBC reporter Mark Urban "interviewing" a braying Sir Christopher Meyer, Blair's former apologist in Washington, outside the Ecuadorean embassy, the pair of them erupting with Blimpish indignation that the unclubbable Assange and the uncowed Rafael Correa should expose the Western system of rapacious power. Similar affront is vivid in the pages of The Guardian UK, which has counseled Hague to be "patient" and that storming the embassy would be "more trouble than it is worth." Assange was not a political refugee, The Guardian UK declared, because "neither Sweden nor the UK would in any case deport someone who might face torture or the death penalty."
The irresponsibility of this statement matches The Guardian UK's perfidious role in the whole Assange affair. The paper knows full well that documents released by WikiLeaks indicate that Sweden has consistently submitted to pressure from the United States in matters of civil rights. In December 2001, the Swedish government abruptly revoked the political refugee status of two Egyptians, Ahmed Agiza and Mohammedel-Zari, who were handed to a CIA kidnap squad at Stockholm airport and "rendered" to Egypt, where they were tortured. An investigation by the Swedish ombudsman for justice found that the government had "seriously violated" the two men's human rights. In a 2009 US embassy cable obtained by WikiLeaks, entitled "WikiLeaks puts neutrality in the Dustbin of History," the Swedish elite's vaunted reputation for neutrality is exposed as a sham. Another US cable reveals that "the extent of [Sweden's military and intelligence] cooperation [with NATO] is not widely known" and unless kept secret "would open the government to domestic criticism."
The Swedish foreign minister, Carl Bildt, played a notorious leading role in George W. Bush's Committee for the Liberation of Iraq and retains close ties to the Republican Party's extreme right. According to the former Swedish Director of public prosecutions Sven-Erik Alhem, Sweden's decision to seek the extradition of Assange on allegations of sexual misconduct is "unreasonable and unprofessional, as well as unfair and disproportionate." Having offered himself for questioning, Assange was given permission to leave Sweden for London where, again, he offered to be questioned. In May, in a final appeal judgment on the extradition, Britain's Supreme Court introduced more farce by referring to nonexistent "charges."
Accompanying this has been a vituperative personal campaign against Assange. Much of it has emanated from The Guardian UK, which, like a spurned lover, has turned on its besieged former source, having hugely profited from WikiLeaks' disclosures. With not a penny going to Assange or WikiLeaks, a Guardian UK book has led to a lucrative Hollywood movie deal. The authors, David Leigh and Luke Harding, gratuitously abuse Assange as a "damaged personality" and "callous." They also reveal the secret password he had given the paper in confidence, which was designed to protect a digital file containing the US embassy cables. On 20 August, Harding was outside the Ecuadorean embassy, gloating on his blog, "Scotland Yard may get the last laugh." It is ironic, if entirely appropriate, that a Guardian UK editorial putting the paper's latest boot into Assange bears an uncanny likeness to the Murdoch press' predictable augmented bigotry on the same subject. How the glory of Leveson, Hackgate and honorable, independent journalism doth fade.
His tormentors make the point of Assange's persecution. Charged with no crime, he is not a fugitive from justice. Swedish case documents, including the text messages of the women involved, demonstrate to any fair-minded person the absurdity of the sex allegations - allegations almost entirely promptly dismissed by the senior prosecutor in Stockholm, Eva Finne, before the intervention of a politician, Claes Borgstr. At the pre-trial of Bradley Manning, a US Army investigator confirmed that the FBI was secretly targeting the "founders, owners or managers of WikiLeaks" for espionage.
Four years ago, a barely noticed Pentagon document, leaked by WikiLeaks, described how WikiLeaks and Assange would be destroyed with a smear campaign leading to "criminal prosecution." On 18 August, the Sydney Morning Herald disclosed, in a Freedom of Information release of official files, that the Australian government had repeatedly received confirmation that the US was conducting an "unprecedented" pursuit of Assange and had raised no objections. Among Ecuador's reasons for granting asylum is Assange's abandonment "by the state of which he is a citizen." In 2010, an investigation by the Australian Federal Police found that Assange and WikiLeaks had committed no crime. His persecution is an assault on us all and on freedom.
8. GOP Approves ‘Most Conservative Platform In Modern History’
A week from the 2012 Republican National Convention, Republican committee members spent Tuesday articulating and affirming the principles they stand for in a draft of the official party platform. Led by Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA) and featuring other Tea Party stars like Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), the committee approved a draft of the platform McDonnell said “will reflect the heart and soul of the Republican Party” and one committee member called “the most conservative platform in modern history.”
• NO ABORTION IN CASES OF RAPE OR INCEST. The proposal for a “human life amendment” passed without a hitch — and without any exceptions for rape or incest. The committee didn’t stop there; they also adopted language that would ban drugs that end pregnancy after conception, which could potentially include Plan B, the “morning after pill.”
• SALUTE TO MANDATORY ULTRASOUNDS. The GOP officially praises states’ “informed consent” laws that force women to undergo unnecessary procedures, require waiting periods and endure other measures meant to discourage them from getting an abortion. One such law receiving a “salute” was crafted by committee head McDonnell, who passed a notorious mandatory ultrasound requirement after he signed an unsuccessful bill to require an even more invasive transvaginal probe ultrasound during an abortion consultation.
• NO LEGAL RECOGNITION OF SAME-SEX COUPLES. The committee embraced extreme anti-gay language, even rejecting a proposal to endorse civil unions for gay couples after vehement objections from Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and Romney adviser Jim Bopp, who called it a “counterfeit marriage.” The rejection of civil unions, along with the refusal to include a line affirming the legal equality of same-sex couples prompted the organization GOProud to declare, “Those who have engaged in this public platform fight have provided distraction from important issues and damaged Mitt Romney’s campaign.”
• REPLICATE ARIZONA-STYLE IMMIGRATION LAWS. Kris Kobach, who wrote the now mostly invalidated immigration laws in Arizona and Alabama, pushed for language calling for a border fence, a national E-Verify system to make it harder for undocumented workers to find employment, the end of in-state tuition for illegal immigrants and an end to sanctuary cities. The committee overwhelmingly approved the proposals, as well as a line chastising the Department of Justice to halt the lawsuits against draconian immigration laws in Arizona, Alabama, South Carolina and Utah: “State efforts to reduce illegal immigration must be encouraged, not attacked.”
• AUDIT THE FED. The pet project of Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) to audit the Federal Reserve has now been embraced as an official Republican goal. For the first time, the platform calls for an annual audit of the Federal Reserve.
• NO WOMEN IN COMBAT. The platform condemns “social experimentation” in the military, which covers everything from the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to allowing officers to wear their uniforms in gay pride events to letting women serve on the front lines.
• NO STATEHOOD, MORE GUNS FOR WASHINGTON DC. FRC’s Perkins, who recently blamed President Obama and the Southern Poverty Law Center for the shooting at FRC’s Washington headquarters, requested and received a section specifically urging the DC Council to expand gun rights. The same section also opposes DC statehood, which would allow the District to govern itself and put an end to Congressional attempts to impose abortion bans on DC.
• NO NEW TAXES, EXCEPT FOR WAR. The platform calls for a Constitutional amendment requiring a super-majority to approve any tax increase, “with exceptions for only war and national emergencies.” It would also deliberately hobble future Congresses through a cap limiting all government spending to historical average percentage of GDP — “so that future Congresses cannot balance the budget by raising taxes.”
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9. citizen execs spend big on travel
The public hearing had grown heated. Board members of Citizens Property Insurance were pushing a controversial plan that would force hundreds of thousands of Florida homeowners to pay more for less coverage.
"It's not that we're unsympathetic to the people that might be adversely affected by this," board chairman Carlos Lacasa sought to assure the gathering in Tampa.
That feel-your-pain moment came April 26, just three weeks after Lacasa and two Citizens executives returned from a business trip to London. Total tab: nearly $9,200, including two nights in a boutique hotel and a $234.91 dinner for three at an award-winning French restaurant.
It is just one example of how executives at the state-run company have been living large at the same time they are asking hard-pressed Florida property owners to pay more for insurance.
A Times/Herald review of hundreds of expense reports filed over the past three years shows that Citizens executives spent lavishly on themselves even as they pleaded poverty and raised rates by unprecedented amounts.
Traveling executives often stayed in luxury hotels costing as much as $600 a night even when less expensive accommodations were available nearby.
Free of spending caps imposed on rank-and-file employees, executives dined at swank restaurants and repeatedly spent more than $50 per person on such fare as rack of venison, sea bass and Dungeness crab.
Citizens spent tens of thousands of dollars on travel just in Florida, including trips to board meetings held in four-star hotels.
Citizens' chief financial officer broke company rules at least five times by using corporate credit cards to pay for alcoholic beverages and personal expenses.
The governing board for Florida's state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. will consider proposals to more than triple insurance rates for sinkhole coverage in some areas next year and boost premiums for new policyholders, drawing criticism from homeowners associations.
Homeowners in some parts of the state could see significant increases in high risk areas if the sinkhole rate hike is approved, jumping premiums from $1,382 to $4,179 a year on average in Pasco County. By comparison, Alachua County would only see a small increase from $55 to $62 a year. The insurer had a net loss of $968 million in sinkhole claims between 2007 and 2011.
Citizens also said it needs a 15.2 percent increase for homeowners policies statewide and new residents, but will only ask for 7.5 percent because of the 10 percent cap currently in place. A Citizens spokeswoman said she thought the board would consider capping the rate and gradually phasing in the increase.
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