Bell Book Candle

The GOP failed in preventing Barack‘s re-election. They know that a second term president has about 18 months to accomplish anything, and they have decided to go into ball control mode to run out the clock. That is why they are filibustering Chuck Hagel‘s nomination to be Secretary of Defense. They know that cloture will be voted and that Hagel will be confirmed. However, precious time will be wasted and taken off the legislative clock. We can expect more of the same in future days.

Please see Chuck Hagel | Chuck Hagel part 2

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mykeystrokes.com

Reporting on the contentious, drawn-out political battle surrounding President Obama’s decision to pick Republican Chuck Hagel to be his next secretary of defense, Politico recently noted the extraordinary partisan acrimony the confirmation process has produced.

With Republicans adopting an unprecedented obstructionist strategy to block a premier cabinet post by lodging all kinds of threats to “hold” the confirmation or even to try to deny Hagel a Senate vote, Politico concluded the controversy meant problems for party leaders, including Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI).

“Levin faces a conundrum,” Politico reported. “He can force a party-line vote on Hagel, but that could damage the committee’s longtime bipartisan spirit.”

This makes no sense.

By launching a drawn out campaign against Hagel, Republicans have torn up decades worth of tradition on the Senate Armed Services Committee in terms of working across party lines to confirm secretaries of defense. But according to

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mykeystrokes.com

It’s been clear, at least since the 2012 election, that the Republican Party has abrogated its role—really, abandoned any interest—in shaping or seriously discussing American foreign policy. But only recently has this indifference shifted into toxic territory, and on Tuesday the fumes formed a poisonous cloud, the likes of which hadn’t been witnessed in decades.

The occasion was the Senate Armed Services Committee’s vote on Chuck Hagel’s nomination as secretary of defense. In the end, Hagel pulled through, but only on a party-line vote (all Democrats in favor, all Republicans opposed) and after a debate that raised doubts less about Hagel than about the modern GOP’s inclination—and the Senate’s ability—to oversee anything as consequential as national security.

Hagel’s Jan. 31 confirmation hearings had been appalling enough—not just for his own lackluster performance, but more for his inquisitors’ bizarrely narrow focus. They asked almost nothing about the issues that…

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NewsFeed

The Food and Drug Administration has approved a “bionic eye” that allows blind people to see again – at least to an extent.

The Argus II system, which is already in use in Europe, is designed to help patients with retinitis pigmentosa – a rare genetic disorder that damages and kills light-processing cells in the retina, and affects around 100,000 Americans, writes the WSJ.

A miniature camera mounted on a pair of glasses transmits images to a belt-worn video processor. There, the images are converted into patterns of light and dark. This data is then sent wirelessly to a sheet of electrodes implanted in the retina, simulating pixels of light that the eye ‘sees’. This information is then sent to the brain and processed normally as an image, as this video from the Argus II’s manufacturer, Second Sight Medical Products of California, explains:

MORE: First European Embryonic Stem Cell Trial Gets Green…

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This Just In

Not even 24 hours after reaching land, a passenger on this week’s infamously crippled Carnival cruise in the Gulf of Mexico has filed a lawsuit.

Passenger Terry Cassie of Texas has filed a lawsuit against Carnival in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida. The suit describes Carnival’s Triumph cruise ship as a “floating hell.”

The Triumph was towed into port in Alabama late Thursday night, five days after it lost power in a engine-room fire. More than 3,000 passengers and 1,000 crew members lived in squalid conditions after the outage, with overflowing commodes splashing floors with waste as the ship listed, passengers reported.

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Mashed Potato Bulletin

raise minimum wageBoth times in fairly recent years federal minimum wage was increased with the cooperation of Republican leadership. In 1996, the Republican-controlled House under Newt Gingrich, the minimum wage was raised from $4.25 to $5.15 over a 2 year period. The next wage increase took place a decade later, in 2006-2007, when Democrats won back control of the House. They found support for the increase in then President, George W. Bush. This instance raised the minimum rate to its current level of $7.25 per hour.

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This Just In

[Updated 8:20 p.m: To clarify the nature of the filed court document]

Federal prosecutors Friday filed felony charges against former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., alleging the illegal misuse of about $750,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses and gifts.

PDF: See federal charges

The formal charges of conspiracy, making false statements, and mail and wire fraud, were made public in federal court only days after Jackson had signed a plea deal with prosecutors who were investigating potential financial improprieties.

After the charges were filed Friday, Jackson issued a statement accepting responsibility for making mistakes and bad decisions. He did not dispute prosecutors’ allegations.

[Original post, 4:05 p.m.]

Former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and a co-conspirator have admitted to concealing about $750,000 in campaign funds for their personal use, according to a plea deal filed in federal court Friday.

PDF: See plea deal

Jackson, D-Illinois…

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This Just In

Former San Diego Mayor Maureen O’Connor allegedly told the IRS that she won $1 billion by gambling but lost even more over nine years. And when the losses piled up, she took a couple million dollars from her late husband’s charity, prosecutors say.

O’Connor, the first woman mayor of San Diego, has acknowledged in court that she misappropriated more than $2 million from the foundation to fund her casino gambling habit. Her attorney said a brain tumor affected O’Connor’s judgment at the time.

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NewsFeed

Despite the many historic alliances and cultural ties between Britain and France, the two countries now seem to be quite divided on one subject: eating horsemeat.

Britons have been unable to contain their outrage upon learning that certain frozen foods sold at local supermarkets were found to contain horsemeat. But across the Channel, French eaters remain loyal to certain delicacies like breaded horse brain, pan-fried horse heart, and horse steak, Reuters reports.

Horsemeat aficionados line up at horse butchers in Parisian backstreets to get their favorite meat, prepared with oil, lemon juice and pepper, according to Reuters. The fallout of the scandal has done little to rock their perception of a meat they call “a tastier and healthier alternative to beef.” The only thing they lament is the lack of availability — horse butchers are simply rare to come by these days.

(MORE: Horse –…

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