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New Style Report Cards to be Sent Home!

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Via(The Boston Globe)

Public schools to send home weight reports

State board targets childhood obesity

Starting in the fall, public schools across Massachusetts will send reports home to parents alerting them if their child weighs too much or too little – the centerpiece of a campaign to shrink bulging waistlines and halt obesity-related diseases once rare in children.

The childhood screenings, modeled after initiatives in Arkansas and New York City, won unanimous approval yesterday from the state’s Public Health Council, an appointed board of doctors, academics, and service providers.

Students in the first, fourth, seventh, and 10th grades will be measured and weighed so school health officials can calculate their body mass index score, a standard measurement used to gauge the appropriateness of someone’s weight.

The initiative will be phased in during the next two school years, with more than 286,000 students expected to undergo evaluation before the end of the 2010-2011 academic year. The letters issued to parents won’t just be a scorecard, state authorities promised; they will provide suggestions on where to turn for help.

Nearly one-third of adolescents weigh too much, and the toll of that crisis is evident in school nursing offices, where nurses encounter children with high blood pressure and a form of diabetes that in previous generations struck adults almost exclusively.

“We don’t want 12-year-olds having heart attacks, and that’s exactly where we’re headed as a society if we don’t deal with the health and wellness of children and, especially, obesity,” said Kathy Hassey, president of the Massachusetts School Nurse Organization.

Still, in the hours after health regulators embraced the screenings, the message board of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees lighted up with concerns.

Will this further fray school budgets already sorely stretched, some writers wondered. Is this another example of schools assuming responsibilities that are truly the province of parents, another asked.

“Our list-serve has been going off the hook here about this,” said Glenn Koocher, executive director of the school committee group, who counted 22 messages in two hours. “Everyone is concerned about obese children, obviously. But the general concern on the list-serve is around cost, around another unfunded mandate.”

Earlier, when the state Department of Public Health sought comments about the childhood weight screening, the responses from medical associations and physicians were almost entirely supportive. But a representative of an eating-disorders group expressed grave doubts.

Rebecca Manley, founder of the Multiservice Eating Disorders Association in Newton, questioned the reliability of body mass index screenings, known commonly as BMI. And she also challenged the wisdom of sending those reports to parents.

“Mandatory BMI reporting laws force parents to walk the fine line between encouraging healthy eating and promoting unhealthy weight loss strategies,” Manley wrote in a letter to the agency.

State health authorities said yesterday that they are familiar with those concerns – and with the worries of school committees – and have attempted to address them.

Parents, for example, will not be forced to have their children evaluated. Still, if the experience in Arkansas holds true, virtually all Massachusetts students will wind up being screened, and when they are, it will be conducted in private, with no mention of the resulting BMI reading made at that time.

“Nobody wanted to create an environment in which we are going to induce more unhealthy behaviors rather than healthful behaviors,” said Dr. Jewel Mullen, director of the Bureau of Community Health Access and Promotion at the state health agency.

The state’s public health commissioner, John Auerbach, said he believes the financial cost to school districts will be nominal, in part because many were already weighing and measuring students annually.

“Right now, in many situations, the data from height and weight measurements sit in a file, and even if it’s concerning, the parent may not find out,” Auerbach said.

“This helps us make sure the most important person in that child’s life finds out.”

God Bless,
The Truth Tracker
Jason R. Bootie

How the tea parties could change American politics.

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I went to a Tea Party did YOU?

Tax Day Becomes Protest Day

Today American taxpayers in more than 300 locations in all 50 states will hold rallies — dubbed “tea parties” — to protest higher taxes and out-of-control government spending. There is no political party behind these rallies, no grand right-wing conspiracy, not even a 501(c) group like MoveOn.org.

So who’s behind the Tax Day tea parties? Ordinary folks who are using the power of the Internet to organize. For a number of years, techno-geeks have been organizing “flash crowds” — groups of people, coordinated by text or cellphone, who converge on a particular location and then do something silly, like the pillow fights that popped up in 50 cities earlier this month. This is part of a general phenomenon dubbed “Smart Mobs” by Howard Rheingold, author of a book by the same title, in which modern communications and social-networking technologies allow quick coordination among large numbers of people who don’t know each other.

God Bless,
The Truth Tracker
Jason R. Bootie

What Happened to Saving JOBS??

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Via(The Boston Globe)

US weapons cuts could put N.E. jobs in jeopardy

WASHINGTON – Defense contractors, high-tech firms, and manufacturing plants are bracing for thousands of potential layoffs across New England resulting from the Obama administration’s plans to cancel or delay key weapons programs, according to company officials, union representatives, and members of Congress.

A metal works plant in North Grafton, Mass., that shapes titanium for use in the Air Force’s F-22 fighter jet stands to lose as much as one-fifth of its workforce if production is halted, while more than 2,000 jobs could be lost at divisions of United Technologies in Connecticut that build the jet’s engine and electrical power systems, officials say.

More than 2,000 employees at Raytheon Co. facilities in Tewksbury, Andover, and Portsmouth, R.I., are working on the combat and radar systems for the Navy’s Zumwalt class destroyer, another program widely expected to be cut. Many workers could lose their jobs or be transferred out of the area if construction of the warship is halted, according to the officials.

And firms large and small – including General Dynamics in Taunton and iRobot in Bedford – are keeping a close eye on the fate of the Army’s set of next-generation ground combat vehicles, which rely on a host of computer systems and communications developed in the Bay State, but are also on the chopping block.

“All the major programs that are being discussed would have a Massachusetts or New England impact,” said a Senate aide who is tracking the budget deliberations to gauge how they might effect the region’s economy, which is already struggling in the deepening recession.

The Obama administration is about to unveil a Pentagon spending plan that officials say will slash weapons programs identified as either too costly or not meeting the urgent needs of the military in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates stayed behind in Washington, even with President Obama attending a NATO summit starting today in France, to iron out the final details of what he calls a “strategic reshaping” of the Pentagon’s investment strategy.

Gates’s office has said that jobs will not be a factor in the Defense Department’s deliberations.

“It’s not the responsibility of this building to worry about the economic impact of budgetary decisions,” Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell told reporters recently. “It’s the responsibility of the secretary and this building to provide recommendations to the president about what’s in the best interest of our national security.”

But the economic impact of the cuts – especially at a time when the job market is already under strain – is clearly on the minds of company executives, workers, and their elected representatives in Washington. Yesterday, the Labor Department reported initial claims for unemployment insurance rose last week to 669,000 nationwide, the most in more than 26 years.

Continued…

God Bless,
The Truth Tracker
Jason R. Bootie

Mexican Incursions into the US!

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Via(Michael Yon)

Mexican Government in the Drug Business?

A concerned reader sent me this CNN video link on Youtube.  Please view this very disturbing piece: Mexican Incursions into the US.

God Bless,
The Truth Tracker
Jason R. Bootie

No Proof Guns are from U.S.!!

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How can Secretary Of State Clinton claim that the U.S. is mostly or even partially to blame for Mexico’s Drug War if there is no proof been presented by Mexico if the first place?  This is just a stunt to try and past legislation that will hurt Gun Rights in the U.S. and will do NOTHING to keep the guns out of the drug cartels.

Where the blame for Mexico’s illegal guns problem really lies

By Jeff Riley

In his article “Mexico’s drug violence is hard on Arizona”, Washington Post columnist George Will is one of the latest columnists to repeat the myth that American gun stores along the border are the main source for Mexico’s drug cartels.

Mr. Will is late to the party and misinformed.

This meme started appearing as far back as the summer of 2008 when the Los Angeles Times started publishing a continuing series of stories titled “Mexico under Siege”.

Time and time again the U.S. is blamed for our “lax” gun laws that supposedly allow guns and money to flow south into Mexico, while drugs and human smugglers flow north into the U.S.

It’s almost like a coordinated effort exists among the Brady Center, anti-gun news agencies, and the Obama administration to drum up negative press consisting of half-truths, distortions, and downright lies.

Some of the wildest accusations are that Arizona gun stores were supplying fully automatic weapons (assault rifles or even machine guns), grenades, and rocket-propelled grenades! All of which is blatantly false and unsubstantiated.

All this came to a head when U.S. Attorney Eric Holder floated the idea that it was time to revive the now-defunct Clinton Gun Ban which expired in 2004. From MSNBC:

The attorney general also suggested that re-instituting a U.S. ban on the sale of assault weapons would help reduce the bloodshed in Mexico, where last year 6,000 people were killed in drug-related violence…U.S. officials have a responsibility to make sure Mexican police “are not fighting substantial numbers of weapons, or fighting against AK-47s or other similar kinds of weapons that have been flowing to Mexico,” Holder said.

Now we see George Will is repeating the meme:

But although almost all the cartels’ weapons come from the United States, the cartels are generating upward of $15 billion annually from drugs, human trafficking and extortion.

Nowhere does Will mention that the Mexican authorities have yet to provide serial numbers or trace data proving that most of these weapons originated from the U.S.

Of the 6,600 gun dealers who operate along the 2000 mile border only one (X-Caliber Guns) is singled out by Will as being suspected of selling firearms to straw purchasers, who then illegally sell or smuggle weapons across the border.

Ironically, the same morning Will’s column appeared in the Columbus Dispatch, The Arizona Republic reported:

State prosecutors suffered a public setback in efforts to combat border violence Wednesday when a judge dismissed high-profile charges against a Phoenix gun dealer accused of arming Mexican cartels.

The case against George Iknadosian, owner of X-Caliber Guns, had been covered on national TV broadcasts and in stories by the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

But in mid-trial, all 21 counts were dismissed by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Robert Gottsfield, who decided he had found a flaw in the government’s case.

Gottsfield dismissed jurors and granted acquittal in response to a so-called Rule 20 motion sought by Baker. Under Arizona law, Rule 20 holds that a case must be thrown out if the state’s evidence is inadequate for conviction.

“There is no proof whatsoever that any prohibited (firearm) possessor ended up with the firearms,” he said.

Now the truth is staring to come out, and it seems that even the L.A. Times is starting to understand where the problem really lies. From “Drug cartels’ new weaponry means war”:

Traffickers have escalated their arms race, acquiring military-grade weapons, including hand grenades, grenade launchers, armor-piercing munitions and antitank rockets with firepower far beyond the assault rifles and pistols that have dominated their arsenals.

Most of these weapons are being smuggled from Central American countries or by sea, eluding U.S. and Mexican monitors who are focused on the smuggling of semi auto-matic and conventional weapons purchased from dealers in the U.S. border states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

The proliferation of heavier armaments points to a menacing new stage in the Mexican government’s 2-year-old war against drug organizations, which are evolving into a more militarized force prepared to take on Mexican army troops, deployed by the thousands, as well as to attack each other.

These groups appear to be taking advantage of a robust global black market and porous borders, especially between Mexico and Guatemala. (emphasis added)

Incredulously some think that restricting the rights of American gun owners due to Mexico’s inability to control its own criminals is a perfectly rational response.

Flush with cash, drug cartels are going to be able to get any kind of weapons they desire and restricting the ownership of legally owned firearms in the U.S. is not going to even slow them down. Consider the fact the Columbian drug runners have been utilizing submarines of their own manufacture to smuggle drugs. Each one of these subs is estimated to cost $1 million to manufacture. How can they afford this? In 2007 when the first sub was captured, it was carrying 5 tons of cocaine worth an estimated $350 million.

While George’s column is not explicitly anti-gun, and is more focused on the violence that illegal drugs is bringing to Arizona’s citizens, he does repeat inaccurate information that unfairly demonizes gun dealers along the border. Fortunately Americans aren’t buying into the lie that we are the source of Mexico’s problems. Last week, 65 Democratic legislators have sent a letter to the Attorney General advising him that they will not support a renewed “Assault Weapons” ban and chastise him for trying to use Mexico’s problems as a pretext for restricting American’s rights.

I would suggest that if the Adminstration is that worried about violence and drugs spilling accross the borders into the U.S. they should do something really constructive……like build a fence along the whole border and hire more Border Patrol agents.

Jeff Riley is a Southwest Ohio volunteer for Buckeye Firearms Association.

Here is another article that was well written and has some great information, and comments about why we can’t just believe everything we are being fed about the cartels getting the deadly weapons from the U.S.

Mexican Drug Cartels: Where Are They Getting Their Weapons?

By  Timothy V.

God Bless,
The Truth Tracker
Jason R. Bootie

Dear AIG: I QUIT!!!

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(Op-Ed NYT)

Dear AIG: I QUIT

The following is a letter sent on Tuesday by Jake DeSantis, an executive vice president of the American International Group’s financial products unit, to Edward M. Liddy, the chief executive of A.I.G.

DEAR Mr. Liddy,

It is with deep regret that I submit my notice of resignation from A.I.G. Financial Products. I hope you take the time to read this entire letter. Before describing the details of my decision, I want to offer some context:

I am proud of everything I have done for the commodity and equity divisions of A.I.G.-F.P. I was in no way involved in — or responsible for — the credit default swap transactions that have hamstrung A.I.G. Nor were more than a handful of the 400 current employees of A.I.G.-F.P. Most of those responsible have left the company and have conspicuously escaped the public outrage.

After 12 months of hard work dismantling the company — during which A.I.G. reassured us many times we would be rewarded in March 2009 — we in the financial products unit have been betrayed by A.I.G. and are being unfairly persecuted by elected officials. In response to this, I will now leave the company and donate my entire post-tax retention payment to those suffering from the global economic downturn. My intent is to keep none of the money myself.

I take this action after 11 years of dedicated, honorable service to A.I.G. I can no longer effectively perform my duties in this dysfunctional environment, nor am I being paid to do so. Like you, I was asked to work for an annual salary of $1, and I agreed out of a sense of duty to the company and to the public officials who have come to its aid. Having now been let down by both, I can no longer justify spending 10, 12, 14 hours a day away from my family for the benefit of those who have let me down.

You and I have never met or spoken to each other, so I’d like to tell you about myself. I was raised by schoolteachers working multiple jobs in a world of closing steel mills. My hard work earned me acceptance to M.I.T., and the institute’s generous financial aid enabled me to attend. I had fulfilled my American dream.

I started at this company in 1998 as an equity trader, became the head of equity and commodity trading and, a couple of years before A.I.G.’s meltdown last September, was named the head of business development for commodities. Over this period the equity and commodity units were consistently profitable — in most years generating net profits of well over $100 million. Most recently, during the dismantling of A.I.G.-F.P., I was an integral player in the pending sale of its well-regarded commodity index business to UBS. As you know, business unit sales like this are crucial to A.I.G.’s effort to repay the American taxpayer.

The profitability of the businesses with which I was associated clearly supported my compensation. I never received any pay resulting from the credit default swaps that are now losing so much money. I did, however, like many others here, lose a significant portion of my life savings in the form of deferred compensation invested in the capital of A.I.G.-F.P. because of those losses. In this way I have personally suffered from this controversial activity — directly as well as indirectly with the rest of the taxpayers.

I have the utmost respect for the civic duty that you are now performing at A.I.G. You are as blameless for these credit default swap losses as I am. You answered your country’s call and you are taking a tremendous beating for it.

But you also are aware that most of the employees of your financial products unit had nothing to do with the large losses. And I am disappointed and frustrated over your lack of support for us. I and many others in the unit feel betrayed that you failed to stand up for us in the face of untrue and unfair accusations from certain members of Congress last Wednesday and from the press over our retention payments, and that you didn’t defend us against the baseless and reckless comments made by the attorneys general of New York and Connecticut.

My guess is that in October, when you learned of these retention contracts, you realized that the employees of the financial products unit needed some incentive to stay and that the contracts, being both ethical and useful, should be left to stand. That’s probably why A.I.G. management assured us on three occasions during that month that the company would “live up to its commitment” to honor the contract guarantees.

That may be why you decided to accelerate by three months more than a quarter of the amounts due under the contracts. That action signified to us your support, and was hardly something that one would do if he truly found the contracts “distasteful.”

That may also be why you authorized the balance of the payments on March 13.

At no time during the past six months that you have been leading A.I.G. did you ask us to revise, renegotiate or break these contracts — until several hours before your appearance last week before Congress.

I think your initial decision to honor the contracts was both ethical and financially astute, but it seems to have been politically unwise. It’s now apparent that you either misunderstood the agreements that you had made — tacit or otherwise — with the Federal Reserve, the Treasury, various members of Congress and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo of New York, or were not strong enough to withstand the shifting political winds.

You’ve now asked the current employees of A.I.G.-F.P. to repay these earnings. As you can imagine, there has been a tremendous amount of serious thought and heated discussion about how we should respond to this breach of trust.

As most of us have done nothing wrong, guilt is not a motivation to surrender our earnings. We have worked 12 long months under these contracts and now deserve to be paid as promised. None of us should be cheated of our payments any more than a plumber should be cheated after he has fixed the pipes but a careless electrician causes a fire that burns down the house.

Many of the employees have, in the past six months, turned down job offers from more stable employers, based on A.I.G.’s assurances that the contracts would be honored. They are now angry about having been misled by A.I.G.’s promises and are not inclined to return the money as a favor to you.

The only real motivation that anyone at A.I.G.-F.P. now has is fear. Mr. Cuomo has threatened to “name and shame,” and his counterpart in Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal, has made similar threats — even though attorneys general are supposed to stand for due process, to conduct trials in courts and not the press.

So what am I to do? There’s no easy answer. I know that because of hard work I have benefited more than most during the economic boom and have saved enough that my family is unlikely to suffer devastating losses during the current bust. Some might argue that members of my profession have been overpaid, and I wouldn’t disagree.

That is why I have decided to donate 100 percent of the effective after-tax proceeds of my retention payment directly to organizations that are helping people who are suffering from the global downturn. This is not a tax-deduction gimmick; I simply believe that I at least deserve to dictate how my earnings are spent, and do not want to see them disappear back into the obscurity of A.I.G.’s or the federal government’s budget. Our earnings have caused such a distraction for so many from the more pressing issues our country faces, and I would like to see my share of it benefit those truly in need.

On March 16 I received a payment from A.I.G. amounting to $742,006.40, after taxes. In light of the uncertainty over the ultimate taxation and legal status of this payment, the actual amount I donate may be less — in fact, it may end up being far less if the recent House bill raising the tax on the retention payments to 90 percent stands. Once all the money is donated, you will immediately receive a list of all recipients.

This choice is right for me. I wish others at A.I.G.-F.P. luck finding peace with their difficult decision, and only hope their judgment is not clouded by fear.

Mr. Liddy, I wish you success in your commitment to return the money extended by the American government, and luck with the continued unwinding of the company’s diverse businesses — especially those remaining credit default swaps. I’ll continue over the short term to help make sure no balls are dropped, but after what’s happened this past week I can’t remain much longer — there is too much bad blood. I’m not sure how you will greet my resignation, but at least Attorney General Blumenthal should be relieved that I’ll leave under my own power and will not need to be “shoved out the door.”

Sincerely,

Jake DeSantis

God Bless,
The Truth Tracker
Jason R. Bootie

Pilots Will No Longer be Armed!

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Via(NewsMax)

Obama Wants to Disarm U.S. Pilots

By: David A. Patten

The Obama administration is taking steps quietly to shut down the program that qualifies commercial airline pilots to carry firearms in jetliner cockpits in order to ward off another 9/11-type attack.

The administration recently diverted $2 million from a program to train and certify pilots to carry firearms safely while on duty. Instead, it is using the money to hire additional field inspectors to help discipline pilots who step out of line, according to a report in Tuesday’s Washington Times.

A Times editorial condemned the Obama administration’s action, calling it “completely unnecessary harassment of the pilots.”

Since Obama took office, the approval process for certifying pilots to carry firearms has ground to a halt, the newspaper reports. Pilots are afraid to speak out about the behind-the-scenes maneuverings, for fear of retaliation, according to the newspaper.  No cases have been reported in which pilots have brandished a weapon inappropriately or otherwise abused their eligibility to carry firearms.

About 12,000 pilots have been authorized to carry handguns while flying aircraft as part of the Federal Flight Deck Officers Program. Congress authorized the program in a 310-to-113 vote following the 9/11 attacks to help prevent terrorists from turning jetliners into flying bombs that could be used to attack key sites like the White House, the Pentagon, or Capitol Hill.

Paul Valone, a Second Amendment advocate who directs Grass Roots North Carolina (GRNC.org), is calling for citizens to contract their congressional representatives to protest the administration’s anti-gun priorities.

Pilots are already required to pay for their own room and board during training, and use paid leave for the time they’re off the job. Every six months, the program requires them to be requalified for firearm use.

Valone writes on Examiner.com: “While bureaucrats . . . may have attempted to hamstring the program with burdensome requirements, training instructors and the Federal Air Marshals who now oversee the program routinely thank the FFDOs for their professionalism and dedication in protecting the nation’s air commerce against terrorism.”

Valone says the Obama administration is “dismantling yet another layer of defense against terrorism and defying the will of the American people.”

Since coming to power, the Obama administration has undertaken a series of moves that signal a major de-emphasis of programs enacted to keep America’s homeland safe from terrorist attack:

Continue story here:

God Bless,
The Truth Tracker
Jason R. Bootie

Jurors Causing More Mistrials!!

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Via(International Herald Tribune)

Jurors’ smartphones upset the scales of justice

Last week, a juror in a big federal drug trial in Florida admitted to the judge that he had been doing research on the case on the Internet, directly violating the judge’s instructions and centuries of legal rules. But when the judge questioned the rest of the jury, he got an even bigger shock.

Eight other jurors had been doing the same thing. The federal judge, William J. Zloch, had no choice but to declare a mistrial, wasting eight weeks of work by federal prosecutors and defense lawyers.

“We were stunned,” said the defense lawyer, Peter Raben, who was told by the jury that he was on the verge of winning the case. “It’s the first time modern technology struck us in that fashion, and it hit us right over the head.”

It might be called a Google mistrial. The use of BlackBerrys and iPhones by jurors gathering and sending out information about cases is wreaking havoc on trials around the United States, upending deliberations and infuriating judges.

Last week, a building products company asked an Arkansas court to overturn a $12.6 million judgment against it after a juror in the civil trial used Twitter to send updates during the proceedings.

On Monday, defense lawyers in the federal corruption trial of a former Pennsylvania state senator, Vincent J. Fumo, demanded that the judge declare a mistrial after a juror posted updates on the case on Twitter and Facebook. The juror even told his readers that a “big announcement” was coming on Monday. But the judge decided to let the trial continue, and the jury found Mr. Fumo guilty. His lawyers plan to use the Internet postings as grounds for appeal.

Jurors are not supposed to seek information outside of the courtroom. They are required to make their decision based only on facts that the judge has decided are admissible, and do not see evidence that has been excluded as prejudicial. But now, using their own cellphones — to look up the name of a defendant on the Web or examine an intersection using Google Maps — they violate the legal system’s complex rules of evidence. They can also tell their friends what is happening in the jury room, though they are supposed to keep their opinions and deliberations secret.

Such cases are not confined to the United States. In Britain, a juror went online not long ago with a Blackberry during a trial for rape, causing the conviction to be quashed. The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge of Draycote, made a recent speech where he noted that some jurors have been found making “private enquiries” on the Internet despite orders not to.

A juror on a lunch or bathroom break can find out many details about a case. Wikipedia can help explain the technology underlying a patent claim or medical condition, Google Maps can show how long it might take to drive from point A to point B, and news sites can show what has been written about a criminal defendant, his lawyers or expert witnesses.

“It’s really impossible to control it,” said Douglas L. Keene, president of the American Society of Trial Consultants.

Judges have long amended their habitual warning about seeking outside information during trials to include Internet searches. But with the Internet now as close as the juror’s pocket, the risk has grown more immediate — and instinctual. Now attorneys have routinely begun to check the blogs and Web sites of prospective jurors.

Mr. Keene said jurors might think they are helping, not hurting, by digging deeper. “There are people who feel they can’t serve justice if they don’t find the answers to certain questions,” he said.

But the rules of evidence, developed over hundreds of years of jurisprudence, are there to ensure that the facts that go before a jury have been subjected to scrutiny and challenge from both sides, said Olin Guy Wellborn, a professor at the University of Texas law school.

“That’s the beauty of the adversary system,” said Mr. Wellborn, a co-author of a handbook on evidence law. “You lose all that when the jurors go out on their own.”

In the Florida case that resulted in a mistrial, Mr. Raben, a defense attorney from Miami, spent nearly eight weeks fighting charges that his client illegally sold prescription drugs through Internet pharmacies. The arguments were completed and the jury was deliberating over the verdict when one of them contacted the judge to say another juror had admitted to her that he had done some outside research on the case over the Internet.

As the judge questioned the juror about his research — which included evidence that the judge had specifically excluded — Mr. Raben recalled thinking that if the juror had not communicated his information to the rest of the jury, “we can just kick this juror off and go” on with the trial, instead of wasting eight weeks.

But the judge then found that eight other jurors had done the same thing, Googling the lawyers and the defendant, looking up news stories about the case, checking word definitions on Wikipedia and searching for evidence that had been specifically excluded by the judge. “It was a heartbreak,” Mr. Raben said.

In the Arkansas case, Stoam Holdings, the company trying to overturn the $12.6 million judgment against it, said a juror, Johnathan Powell, had sent his Twitter messages during the trial. Mr. Powell’s messages included, “oh and nobody buy Stoam. Its bad mojo and they’ll probably cease to Exist, now that their wallet is 12m lighter,” and “So Johnathan, what did you do today? Oh nothing really, I just gave away TWELVE MILLION DOLLARS of somebody else’s money.”

Mr. Powell, who is 29 and manages a one-hour photo booth at a Wal-Mart in Fayetteville, Arkansas, insisted in an interview he had not sent any substantive messages about the case until the verdict had been delivered and he was released from any obligation to keep mum. “I was done when I mentioned the trial at all,” he said. “They’re welcome to pull my phone records.”

But juror research is a more troublesome issue than Tweeting or blogging, said Mr. Keene of the American Society of Trial Consultants, and raises new issues for judges in giving instructions.

“It’s important that they don’t know what’s excluded, and it’s important that they don’t know why it’s excluded,” Mr. Keene said. The court cannot even give a full explanation to jurors about research — say, to tell them what not to look for — and so instructions are usually delivered as blanket admonitions, he said.

The technological landscape has changed so much that today’s judge, Mr. Keene said, “has to explain why this is crucial, and not just go through boilerplate instructions.” And, he said, enforcement goes beyond what the judge can do, noting that “it’s up to juror 11 to make sure juror 12 stays in line.”

It does not always work out that way. Seth A. McDowell, a data support specialist who lives in Albuquerque and works for a financial advising firm, said he was serving on a jury last year when a member of the jury admitted having Googled the defendant. He said the juror acknowledged that she was not supposed to do so and said she did not find anything on the Internet.

Mr. McDowell, who is 35, said he wondered whether he should tell the judge, but decided against it. None of the other members of the jury did, either. Now, he said, after a bit of soul searching, he feels he might have made the wrong choice.

God Bless,
The Truth Tracker
Jason R. Bootie

The Real AIG Cover Up by the WH!

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Via(IBDedit0rials)

Stimulating AIG

Government: The administration that is expressing outrage over the AIG bonuses knew about them in advance. They were protected by Sen. Chris Dodd’s amendment to the stimulus package.

Perhaps if the White House had spent less time worrying about Rush Limbaugh and more time watching the bailout money, it wouldn’t have been caught flat-footed voicing faux outrage about the $165 million in bonuses to AIG execs that they now want back and Sen. Chris Dodd wants to tax out of existence.

President Obama was informed about the $165 million in bonuses due employees of the American Insurance Group the day before they were paid out last week, the White House said late Tuesday.

“In the last six months AIG has received substantial sums from the U.S. Treasury,” Obama said after allegedly hearing about it for the first time. “How do they justify this outrage to the taxpayers who are keeping the company afloat?”

Well, they justify it by saying they had the administration’s permission. The New York Times reports that AIG executives said they never would have proceeded with the bonus payments before getting approval from the Treasury and the Federal Reserve.

“We would never make any important business decisions without discussing them with our government managers and owners,” one AIG executive is quoted as saying.

The $165 million in bonuses were not the first bonuses to be paid. According to the Times report, Treasury and Fed officials said they knew AIG had paid $55 million in bonuses in December.

As Larry Kudlow notes in his column on the next page, “the Obama administration — including the president, Treasury man Tim Geithner and economic adviser Larry Summers — knew all about them many months ago. They were undoubtedly informed of this during the White House transition.”

The fact is, these bonuses were made legal by the $787 billion stimulus bill that President Obama promoted and signed. A provision, now known as the “Dodd Amendment,” was inserted into the bill by the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Chris Dodd, D-Conn. It exempts from any restrictions bonuses contractually obligated before Feb. 11 of this year.

Dodd admits inserting an amendment, but without the language that exempts the AIG bonuses. “I can’t point a finger at someone who was responsible for putting those dates in,” Dodd told Fox Business. “I can tell you this much: When my language left the senate, it did not include it. When it came back, it did.”

So who exempted AIG in the stimulus bill? “Because of negotiations with the Treasury Department and the bill conferees, several modifications were made,” Dodd spokesperson Kate Szostak said cryptically in a response to Fox Business.

Negotiations with Treasury? What did Timothy Geithner know about this and when did he know it? If Dodd didn’t exempt AIG from bonus restrictions in the stimulus, who did?

Coincidentally, Sen. Dodd was AIG’s largest single recipient of campaign donations during the 2008 election cycle with $103,000, according to opensecrets.org.  Also coincidentally, one of the largest offices of AIG Financial Products, the division that concocted the goofy financial instruments that doomed AIG, is situated in Connecticut.

The second-largest AIG recipient, at $101,232, was the “choked up with anger” President Obama.  If AIG gives back the bonuses, will the president give back these and other campaign contributions from troubled institutions?

Maybe President Obama can answer these and other questions when he appears on Jay Leno Thursday night. Then again, maybe not.

Oh but where has almost half the bailout money to AIG gone?

Goldman Sachs, and guess where else “European banks”.

God Bless,
The Truth Tracker
Jason R. Bootie

Hidden Truth About The Mortgage Plan

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Via(THE HILL)

Phony mortgage plan

By: Dick Morris

President Obama and his big spenders are moving quickly, to the relief of those who are facing foreclosure on their mortgages. But the program they are offering will do nothing for those most in need.

In the fine print, Obama’s plan provides no relief for any homeowner whose mortgage exceeds the total value of his home. But these folks are the ones who have been conned into taking sub-prime mortgages so loaded with brokerage commissions, interest rate subsidies, bank fees and lawyer and title-company charges that the amount of the mortgage has ballooned. These high mortgage amounts, coupled with declining property values, have turned about 20 percent of American mortgages upside down, so that the debt exceeds the value of the property.

By excluding these homeowners from help, Obama is guilty of a holier-than-thou hypocrisy. Was it not Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that encouraged such over-mortgaged properties? Was it not the Democrats in Congress who passed legislation urging Fannie and Freddie to weaken the standards to allow more low- and lower-middle-income families to buy homes?

How can Obama suddenly pretend to be so shocked — shocked — that about 20 percent of America’s home mortgages are now worth more than the property they finance? It was the insistence of liberal Democrats that made it so. When Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros demanded that Fannie and Freddie invest 42 percent of their assets in buying low- and lower-middle-income mortgages, and when his successor Andrew Cuomo raised the quota to 50 percent, what did they think would happen? When they explicitly told Fannie and Freddie not to insist on down payments in the mortgages they purchased, how did they think the purchase would be funded? Obviously, if you don’t require the borrower to put money down, the full purchase price must be covered by the mortgage. To now, piously, refuse to come to the rescue of those who fell for your party’s seeming generosity and bought homes on the terms it suggested is hypocritical at best.

But it is not only the over-mortgaged whom Obama will ignore, but those who have lost their jobs! If you do not make enough money such that your mortgage payments come to 31 percent of your income, you can’t get your mortgage refinanced. If your income has dropped to a point where your monthly payments on your loan consume a greater part of your earnings than 31 percent, you are stuck.

So we have Obama rushing to the aid of those who have been hurt in this bad economy, but exempting from his proposed relief anyone who has lost his job and seen a cut in income or whose property values have dropped below the amount of his mortgage. In other words, he’ll help anyone but those most in need.

And, once again, Obama would limit his aid to those who make below $200,000 a year. While he doesn’t specify this limit in his proposal, he does limit his intervention to mortgages of less than $720,000. At standard mortgage interest rates, such a loan would call for $60,000 or so in payments a year. To qualify for relief, your mortgage payment can’t be larger than 31 percent of your income — or about $200,000. Once more, Obama makes it clear that he is not the president of anyone who makes that much money or more. He is only the president of the other people.

Obama, of course, forgets — or doesn’t care — that those making over $200,000 account for almost a third of the total national spending and that you cannot stimulate an economy while constantly cutting off those people from any consideration in any government program. But Obama is determined to try.

Morris, a former adviser to Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and President Bill Clinton, is the author of Outrage. To get all of Dick Morris’s and Eileen McGann’s columns for free by e-mail or to order a signed copy of their new best-selling book, Fleeced, go to dickmorris.com.

God Bless,
The Truth Tracker
Jason R. Bootie