Here Are The Sleaziest Things Congress Has Done During The Shutdown

We’re now almost two weeks into the government shutdown, and there’s been no shortage of outrage over the fact that Congress remains unable to figure out how to end it. Recent polling has shown record levels of support for replacing every member of Congress, and lawmakers are now less popular than witches and dog poop.

This level of unpopularity may not come as a surprise to anyone who’s followed the actions of Congress. The shutdown, brought on late last month by House Republicans who insisted that any measure to fund the government must also delay or dismantle Obamacare, has taken a nationwide toll on federal workers and programs. With around 800,000 federal employees furloughed without pay and programs for veterans, women and children increasingly becoming hobbled by the congressional impasse, lawmakers have been more successful at upsetting the people they serve than at ending the shutdown.

Here are some of the sleaziest things members of Congress have done so far: Read more

Race driver Sean Edwards killed as car hits wall at Queensland Raceway at Willowbank | The Courier-Mail

HIS father famously stopped during the 1976 German Grand Prix to pull another driver to safety from the burning wreck.

But yesterday, nobody was able to save British driver Sean Edwards – the son of Formula 1 driver Guy – when the Porsche he was a passenger in hit the wall at Queensland Raceway, bursting into flames.

via Race driver Sean Edwards killed as car hits wall at Queensland Raceway at Willowbank | The Courier-Mail.

House disarray as US debt bills falter

Efforts by the House of Representatives to end the US debt ceiling showdown have collapsed in startling fashion, with the Republican leadership failing to muster enough support for its own plans to avert default.

House Speaker John Boehner’s team unveiled two paths out of the crisis on Tuesday, including a stripped-down Republican bill extending the US debt ceiling until February 7 and funding government for the next two months.

The first effort never got off the ground and a rules committee postponed a key hearing that would allow the second measure to reach the floor, essentially killing it.

“There will be no action, no votes and the Rules Committee will not be in tonight,” the committee’s Republican chairman Pete Sessions told reporters as the party failed to close ranks behind the proposal.

The plan came 15 days into a government shutdown, and little more than 24 hours before the United States hits a deadline when it will start running out of funds to pay its bills.

It leaves very little wiggle room for the House and Senate to fashion an agreement before the Thursday deadline that will not get hung up in procedural steps, which could happen in the Senate if any member objects to a fast-track process for a deal.

Amid rising anxiety on the markets, the financial rating agency Fitch put the United States on warning for a downgrade from its top grade AAA spot.

Aides said the House failure throws the responsibility of crafting a deal to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and top Republican Senator Mitch McConnell, who had put earlier negotiations on hold after Boehner surprised many by trying to cobble together a House plan.

“Given tonight’s events, the leaders have decided to work toward a solution that would reopen the government and prevent default,” said McConnell’s communications director Michael Brumas.

The rapid collapse of the House bill – precipitated, some say, by a memo from conservative think tank Heritage Action which threatened to score lawmakers poorly if they voted for the measure – shocked some Republicans.

“Unbelievable day. No House bill on CR (the continuing resolution to fund government) or debt,” Republican Lee Terry said on Twitter, adding it was now “up to McConnell” to stand tough on maintaining federal spending cuts.

Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic minority leader who lost the speaker’s gavel to Boehner in early 2011 after Republicans won back control of the House, took a swipe at her rival over the debacle.

“If @SpeakerBoehner is looking for something to vote on tonight, how about the Senate bill to open govt?” she tweeted.

Boehner’s latest measure stripped out provisions that delayed taxes which help fund President Barack Obama’s health care law.

It also funded government until only December 15, so that Republican lawmakers could take another shot at removing an “Obamacare” provision known as the contraception mandate before it goes into force January 1.

The bill would have also eliminated health insurance subsidies for members of Congress, aides and White House and cabinet officials and stripped the Treasury’s power to take special measures to manage US debt obligations.

“Even if this bill passed tonight, what would it have done?” Republican congressman Peter King, an outspoken critic of Tea Party-backed efforts to dismantle Obamacare through a shutdown and debt ceiling fight.

“After shutting down the government for two and a half weeks, laying off 800,000 people, all the damage we caused, all we would end up doing was taking away health insurance from congressional employees. That’s it?

“That’s what you go to war for? That’s what we shut down the United States government for?” he added.

$1.1 TRILLION RANSOM DEMAND OR OBAMA WILL CRASH GLOBAL ECONOMY

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President Barack Obama is demanding a $1.1 trillion “ransom”–or else he will not allow the debt ceiling to be raised. That’s the effective offer on the table from the president and Senate Democrats. They have now refused to pass a “clean” short-term debt ceiling hike unless Republicans agree to reverse the “sequester” spending cuts in the 2011 Budget Control Act that were enacted–at Obama’s suggestion–to end the last debt ceiling crisis.

The president, who has invited congressional leaders to conduct talks at the White House Monday afternoon, still continues to insist that he “will not pay a ransom for Congress reopening the government and raising the debt limit.” Yet he and his party are the ones insisting on a “ransom,” now that Republicans appear to be in the mood to compromise after opinion poll results last week showed them losing politically in the showdown.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) has claimed that the sequester dispute means that Democrats and Republicans are only $70 billion apart in budget negotiations. That is a blatant lie, as the total value of the sequester over ten years is $1.1 trillion. Democrats do not want a reprieve for one year–they want the entire sequester canceled so that they can continue spending on such priorities as the annual cowboy poetry festival in Nevada.

Last week, President Obama asked the press to “imagine if a Democratic Congress threatened to crash the global economy unless a Republican president agreed to gun background checks or immigration reform.” Now the White House and a Democrat-controlled Senate are threatening exactly that–unless Republicans agree to fork over $1.1 trillion, paid for with new “revenues” (i.e. taxes) on the American people. Ransom, indeed.

46 million year old Blood-filled mosquito fossil found.

A Unique 46-million-year-old mosquito fossil with a belly full of dried blood has been found in a Montana riverbed, US researchers say.

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“It is an extremely rare fossil, the only one of its kind in the world,” said Dale Greenwalt, lead author of the study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, on Monday.

Cutting-edge instruments detected the unmistakable traces of iron in her engorged abdomen, but just what creature that blood came from is a mystery since DNA cannot be extracted from a fossil that old.

Greenwalt said it might have been blood from a bird, since the ancient mosquito resembles a modern one from the genus Culicidae, which likes to feed on our feathered friends.

“But that would be pure speculation,” said Greenwalt, a retired biochemist who volunteers at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington.

Greenwalt said he became fascinated with fossilised insects several years ago.

He learned about Master’s student Kurt Constenius, who described his discoveries of fossilised insects along a remote Montana riverbed in an obscure geological journal more than two decades ago.

Greenwalt and Constenius discussed the fossil grounds, which lie near the Flathead River along the western boundary of Glacier National Park.

The fossil described in PNAS came from a collection of fossilised insects languishing in Constenius’s basement since the 1980s, and which he and his family had donated to the Smithsonian museum.

“As soon as I saw it, I knew it was different,” Greenwalt said.

The mosquito itself is only about 0.5cm in size. Somehow, the fragile creature ate its last meal, filling its abdomen until it was nearly ready to burst like a balloon.

Then, perhaps as the mosquito was flying over an algae-coated lake, it became caught in that mucus, enveloped in microbes that protected it from degrading, and eventually sank deep into the sediment of the lake.

Despite its impressive age it is far from the oldest known mosquito fossil. That honour goes to a 95-million-year-old mosquito in amber in Myanmar.

 

‘White Widow’ Samantha Lewthwaite feared to be planning more attacks

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Police fear Samantha Lewthwaite – the fugitive Brit dubbed the ‘White Widow’ – is planning more terror attacks, after documents found on her laptop linked her to the Nairobi mall massacre.

The laptop seized in Kenya in 2011 contained documents that revealed the British suspect had been plotting to target a mall in Kenya’s capital for at least two years.

The computer showed Lewthwaite had carried out detailed research on how to make bombs and explosives.

“The international security community is working round the clock to identify her whereabouts and capture her without delay,” a source said.

“The lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent people are at risk if she is able to launch an attack. She needs to be stopped in her tracks before it is too late.

“She is a danger to the world.”

Authorities think Lewthwaite had probably been planning an attack on a different mall in 2011, but realised her plan last month at Westgate shopping centre where at least 67 people were murdered in cold blood.

Lewthwaite, 29, who is nicknamed White Widow because she was married to the 2005 London bombings suicide bomber Jermaine Lindsay, has been dubbed the world’s most wanted woman after the Westgate atrocity.

She has been in hiding since December 2011 after police linked her and fellow Briton Jermaine Grant, 30, to a foiled bombing plot against Western tourists in Kenya.

The White Widow was made the subject of a high-alert Red Notice by Interpol after being linked to the massacre.

Police sources have revealed for the first time that there is “specific intelligence” that puts Lewthwaite at the heart of at least six separate bomb plots in Kenya.

One was a grenade attack on a sports bar in Mombasa last year when a little boy was killed.