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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Toothpick Beard Challenge 2,747 World Record

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Three-thousand toothpicks and a 16-month-long beard growth combined to make a popular web video.

A man tried to stick the 3,000 toothpicks in his beard, but ran out of space after successfully getting 2,747 toothpicks to stay to beat the record of 2,222.

He didn't keep the human porcupine look for long.  He shook the toothpicks out and then shaved off his beard that night.


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Missouri Mountain Lion DNA Test Results wolf sightings in 2010 and 2011

DNA tests shed light on cougar, wolf sightings

Mar. 28, 2011 JEFFERSON CITY–Analysis of DNA and other physical evidence is helping biologists learn more about unusual wildlife sightings that have occurred in Missouri in recent months.
COYOTE OR WOLF?
The string of sightings began Nov. 13 with the shooting of what appeared to be an unusually large coyote in Carroll County. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) sought DNA tests to clarify the animal’s identity. Scientists sometimes can determine where an animal came from by comparing its DNA with DNA samples from animals of the same species from different areas.
The first round of testing compared DNA from the 104-pound canine to that of western timber wolves. The tests showed a poor match with western wolves but did confirm the presence of coyote DNA. However, further testing linked the animal to timber wolves.
“Coyotes seldom get bigger than 30 pounds in Missouri,” said MDC Resource Scientist Jeff Beringer. “A coyote weighing more than 100 pounds just didn’t seem credible. Wolves are known to interbreed with domestic dogs and coyotes, so we had further testing done to look for evidence of that, and we found it.”
The second round of DNA tests compared the Carroll County canine’s DNA with samples from timber wolves from the Great Lake states of Minnesota, Wisconsin or Michigan. This time, the tests found a close match. Wolves from that area are known to have coyote DNA in their genes. This accounts for the match with coyote DNA in the initial tests.
“Lots of people were skeptical when we announced results from the first round of testing,” said Beringer. “We were too. But when you are trying to unravel a biological puzzle like this one, you take things one step at a time and go where the science leads you. This animal appeared to be very different from the western wolf samples it was compared with, but when we compared it with wolf DNA from the Great Lake states we found a match.”
When asked how a Great Lakes wolf got to Missouri, Beringer noted that wolves from northern states have turned up in Missouri before. The most recent case occurred in 2001. It involved an 80-pound timber wolf killed by a landowner in Grundy County. The man mistook the wolf for a coyote, but discovered his mistake when he found the animal wore a radio collar and an ear tag linking it to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, more than 600 miles away. He notified MDC, which was able to confirm its origin with Michigan officials.
MOUNTAIN LION DNA
Missouri’s other recent news about large carnivores consists of six confirmed sightings of mountain lions (Puma concolor), also known as cougars, since November. MDC verified three of those sightings – in Platte, Linn and St. Louis counties – with photos. MDC obtained hair from the cat photographed in Platte County, but DNA tests on the hair were only able to confirm that the animal was a mountain lion.
“We already knew that,” said Beringer. “The gentleman who saw it got photos that conclusively proved it was a mountain lion. We hoped DNA from the hair would enable us to learn where the animal came from, but hair is a poor source of DNA, and there just wasn’t enough to tell us more.”
Two confirmed sightings involved mountain lions that were shot by hunters, one on Dec. 31 and one on Jan. 15. With ample tissue for testing on these two animals, the DNA results were more revealing. Both had DNA consistent with mountain lions from South Dakota or northwestern Nebraska. Beringer said mountain lions from northwestern Nebraska and the Black Hills region of South Dakota are so closely related, it is almost impossible to distinguish between them.
Beringer said MDC uses other physical evidence to learn about mountain lions when their bodies are available for examination. Based on the condition of teeth and residual dark barring on their legs, the two male cougars shot by hunters were identified as being young animals.
“That is consistent with the theory that the cats we are seeing in Missouri are subadult males dispersing from their original home areas,” said Beringer.
Examination of the bodies of the two hunter-killed cats showed no evidence of them having been held in captivity. The stomach of the 115-pound cougar from Ray County was empty. The 128-pound cat from Macon County had eaten a rabbit. Both were in good physical condition. Further information about these and other confirmed mountain lion sightings is available at www.mdc.mo.gov/node/4168.
The most recent confirmed sighting occurred in Oregon County March 9. That cat left a tuft of hair on a barbed-wire fence after crossing the road in front of a motorist. MDC retrieved the hair, and testing at the University of Missouri confirmed it as a mountain lion. Further testing is planned to learn more about the Oregon County cougar’s relationship to mountain lions from other areas.
One of the more intriguing but still unexplained twists to Missouri’s recent mountain lion sightings is the fact that a cougar photographed with a trail camera Dec. 29 in Linn County appears to have been wearing a radio-tracking collar. The shape of the collar’s antenna suggests that it is a VHF transmitter, rather than one of the newer GPS collars that enable wildlife researchers to track animals’ movements continuously via satellites.
“I have made a lot of calls to other states trying to identify that animal, but so far my only lead is a missing, collared, subadult male from Utah. That would be one heck of a move – but not impossible,” said Beringer.
He noted that collars of the type the Linn County mountain lion was wearing have a short range, and their batteries eventually wear out. The transmitter might have been out of service before the cat left the area where it was collared, leaving the researcher who was tracking it unaware of its departure.
MANAGING PREDATORS
The March 9 sighting brings the number of verified Missouri mountain lion reports to 16. The first of these modern-day sightings was in 1994. Prior to that, the last confirmed sighting dates back to when the species was extirpated, in the early 20th century.
Confirmed cougar sightings have been infrequent in recent decades. The spate of six confirmed sightings in four months surprised even experts like Beringer. He said the uptick in sightings could be a hint of things to come.
“Nebraska went from where we are now – having occasional verified sightings of dispersing animals – to having a breeding population in the space of 10 years. Young male mountain lions are the ones that most often leave their home areas, but I think it is realistic to expect that females will arrive here eventually. We need to be thinking about what we will do if mountain lions establish a breeding population here at some point in the future.”
Beringer noted that what is happening with mountain lions today is similar to what has been happening with bears for several decades. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission restored black bears (Ursus americanus) to that state starting in 1958. As bears filled up suitable habitat in Arkansas, a few individuals began dispersing north into Missouri. Today, the Show-Me State has a breeding population of bears, and MDC is developing strategies for managing the species.
MDC’s current policy regarding mountain lions, approved by the Missouri Conservation Commission in 2006, is not to encourage the establishment of a breeding population of mountain lions. The state’s Wildlife Code protects mountain lions. However, it also allows people to kill any mountain lion that is attacking or killing livestock or domestic animals or threatening human safety. Anyone who kills a mountain lion must report it to MDC immediately and turn over the intact carcass, including the pelt, within 24 hours.
The same applies to wolves and bears.
“The return of these long-absent predators is exciting to many Missourians,” said Beringer, “but it is frightening to others. Much of the fear is simply due to unfamiliarity. These animals are naturally shy of people and seldom cause problems, even in states that have thriving breeding populations.”
Beringer said contrasting the frequency of mountain lion attacks with more familiar dangers helps put the risk in perspective. For example, more than 50,000 people die in automobile accidents in the United States annually, and 86 people are killed by lightning. In contrast, deaths from mountain lion attacks have averaged one every seven years since 1890.
“Having mountain lions around again seems scarier than it really is because it’s new,” said Beringer. “But it would be a terrible pity if people let that keep them from enjoying the outdoors. We don’t let fear of traffic accidents or lightning keep us indoors. We shouldn’t let fear of predators scare us unnecessarily either.”
The Conservation Department set up the Mountain Lion Response Team in 1996 to track cougar sightings and investigate those instances where physical evidence – such as photos, video, footprints, scat or hair – exists. To report a sighting, contact any MDC office or conservation agent, or send email to mountain.lion@mdc.mo.gov.
Information about mountain lion and bear behavior and safety are available at www.mdc.mo.gov/node/3505 and www.mdc.mo.gov/node/3506.
-Jim Low-
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by Joe Jerek
Missouri Dep't. of Conservation
PHOTOS "Courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation"


JEFFERSON CITY Mo – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has just confirmed a mountain lion sighting in southern Linn County along the border of Chariton County. A landowner in the area contacted the MDC on Feb. 15 with two photos of a mountain lion taken Dec. 29 by a trail camera on his property.

“The photo is clearly of a mountain lion and we have confirmed the location,” said Jeff Beringer, resource scientist with the MDC’s Mountain Lion Response Team. “It may be wearing a radio collar based on what appears to be an antenna extending from the cat’s neck.”

The Linn County location is about 25 miles from where a mountain lion was shot and killed in Macon County on Jan. 22. This latest confirmed sighting makes five confirmed reports of a mountain lion in Missouri since November and 15 confirmed reports over the past 16 years.

Beringer said that it appears these mountain lions are young males roaming from other states in search of territory.

“It is very difficult to determine exactly where these individual cats are coming from, but we do know that young male mountain lions go in search of new territories at about 18 months of age and during this time of year,” he explained. “And it makes sense that these big cats could roam into Missouri from the west and use the Missouri river and other river corridors to move throughout the state without being easily detected.”

He added that mountain-lion populations in other states such as Texas, Colorado, South Dakota and Nebraska are growing and that young males are dispersing eastward. Recent confirmed sightings in Nebraska have increased from five in 2004 to more than 30 in 2010.

Beringer said that MDC has no evidence to suggest that a breeding population of mountain lions exists in Missouri, and that MDC has never stocked or released mountain lions in Missouri and has no plans to do so.

Mountain lions are nocturnal, secretive and generally avoid contact with humans.

“We have no documented cases in Missouri of mountain lions attacking livestock, people or pets,” he said. “There is a much greater risk of harm from automobiles, stray dogs and lightning strikes than from mountain lions.”

Beringer explained that the MDC’s Mountain Lion Response Team gets hundreds of calls and emails each year from people who believe they have seen mountain lions. When there is some type of physical evidence, the team investigates.

“More than 90 percent of these investigations turn out to be bobcats, house cats, or dogs,” he said. “Our investigations involving claims of pets or livestock being attacked by mountain lions typically turn out to be the work of dogs. And most of the photos we get of mountain lions turn out to be doctored photographs circulating on the Internet.”

Mountain lions (Puma concolor), also called cougars, panthers and pumas, were present in Missouri before pioneer settlement. The last documented Missouri mountain lion was killed in the Bootheel in 1927. The closest populations of mountain lions to Missouri are in South Dakota and a small population in northwest Nebraska.

Mountain lions are a protected species in the state under the Wildlife Code of Missouri. The Code does allow the killing of any mountain lion attacking or killing livestock or domestic animals or threatening human safety. The incident must be reported to the MDC immediately and the intact carcass, including the pelt, must be surrendered to the MDC within 24 hours.

Two recent mountain lion shootings in Macon and Ray counties did not result in charges against the individuals involved because of threats to human safety. A 1994 case involving the shooting of a mountain lion in Carter County for no justifiable reason resulted in the individuals being prosecuted and fined.

“Each situation must be investigated and reviewed on a case-by-case basis and evaluated on its own merit,” explained Beringer. “The Department does not condone the indiscriminate shooting of mountain lions. We acknowledge that people have the right to protect themselves and their property, but simply seeing a mountain lion does not automatically mean there is a threat. We expect people to exercise good judgment and try to avoid confrontations with all wildlife, including mountain lions. Given a chance, mountain lions almost always withdraw from human contact.”

To report a sighting, physical evidence or other mountain-lion incident, contact a local MDC office or conservation agent, or email the Mountain Lion Response Team at mountain.lion@mdc.mo.gov.

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CLICK PLAY> directly above to Hear Audio Story!
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Mountain Lion Hunting in Chesterfield, MO

Everyone is talking about the Mountain Lion that was sighted in the sleepy St. Louis, Missouri suburb of Chesterfield.

BigHeadRon decides to take matters into his own hands and sets out to capture the elusive beast. With the help of an iPhone App for Mountain Lion tracking he searches the West St. Louis county for the Big Cat and finds a real treasure.

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Another mountain lion killed, officials say don't be concerned
01.26.2011

Hunters shot and killed a mountain lion over the weekend in the Missouri town of La Plata.

La Plata sits on Highway 63 between Macon and Kirksville.

A group of hunters looking for coyotes Saturday instead came within 20 yards of the mountain lion, and shot and killed the animal.

The Missouri Department of Conservation says it happened on land owned by an Amish man.

State officials estimate the mountain lion weighed 130 pounds. It was the second mountain lion killed in Missouri this month and 
the fourth Missouri sighting of a mountain lion -- also known as a cougar, puma or panther -- since November.

The killing of the mountain lion in La Plata comes just 10 days after a stationary wildlife camera in Chesterfield caught images of a mountain lion.


The Missouri Department of Conservation isn't yet sure if it is a wild mountain lion or if it belongs to one of the 32 people in the state who have permits to keep captive mountain lions, said Joe Jerek, a spokesman for the department.
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Camera captures mountain lion in Chesterfield

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Friday, January 21, 2011
 BY STEPHEN DEERE and PATRICK M. O'CONNELL www.STLtoday.com 

CHESTERFIELD • It's impossible to mistake the big cat in the grainy black and white pictures — not with that distinct patch of white hair at its mouth, the muscled jaw line, bulging shoulders and sleek profile.
Call it a cougar, puma or panther.
The question is: What's it doing in Chesterfield?
The Missouri Department of Conservation isn't quite sure, but most likely the mountain lion was just passing through in search of territory or a mate.
The pictures taken Jan. 12 from a stationary wildlife camera mark the first confirmed sighting in St. Louis County since 1994, and the 13th in the state.
The department hasn't ruled out that the cougar might belong to one of the 32 people in the state who have permits to keep captive mountain lions. It's checking with them, conservation spokesman Joe Jerek said.
In the pictures, the cat is making its way around a tree. Its head is slung low, eyes set aglow from the camera's flash. You can't tell the lion's sex or age, the department said.
Although cougar sightings are rare, there have been three in the state since November. The other two were in rural Platte and Ray counties north of Kansas City. Jerek noted that both of those were also near the Missouri River, and it's likely the cougars were simply following the river.
The camera that captured the images of the mountain lion was set up by Chesterfield resident Garrett Jensen, a hunter and outdoors enthusiast. Jensen installed the Reconyx HC600 camera on a tree to monitor wildlife in the woods behind his home near Olive Boulevard and White Road.
The camera, which is triggered by heat and movement, automatically snapped a series of photos about 2:30 a.m. on Jan 12. Jensen was out of town at the time and discovered the images after he returned home and retrieved the memory card and combed through 2,000 shots.
Jensen said conservation officials told him the cat appeared to have weighed about 120 pounds. A Missouri Wildlife Response Team at the site Wednesday did not find any tracks — snow on the ground when the cat appeared had melted — or fur but were still hopeful of finding a DNA sample from the woods, Jensen said.
Jensen installed the wildlife camera only six days before the mountain lion appeared. He picked the location based on the presence of several wildlife trails. The spot is between his home and a lake, making it a popular crossroads for creatures big and small.
In addition to the mountain lion, Jensen's camera captured shots of countless deer, squirrels, raccoons and a coyote. Jensen said he put up the camera to see if he would have any success bow-hunting deer on his property.
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Hunter admits he killed mountain lion

 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


RICHMOND (AP) — Missouri officials said a hunter has admitted that he shot and killed a mountain lion earlier this month.


A cattleman in western Missouri’s Ray County initially claimed to have shot the 115-pound cat Jan. 2. Mountain lions are a protected species that may be killed only if they attack or kill livestock or domestic animals or threaten human safety.


But the Department of Conservation said yesterday the cattleman has retracted the claim, and 29-year-old James McElwee of Camden has admitted the shooting.


The agency said no charges will be filed because McElwee feared for his life after his dogs treed the mountain lion while he was hunting raccoons. The cattleman had offered to take responsibility after McElwee and his father-in-law told him about killing the animal.


The cat was Missouri’s 12th confirmed mountain lion sighting since 1994.
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Jan. 5, 2011
Missouri has another confirmed sighting of a mountain lion. 
And this time, there's a body to prove it.

The state Department of Conservation says a mountain lion was shot and killed Sunday night by a farmer in northwest Missouri's Ray County.

The animal was a young male that showed no sign of having been held in captivity. It weighed 115 pounds and was a little over six-and-a-half feet from its nose to the tip of its tail. Dogs had forced the mountain lion into a tree near where cattle were grazing.

The Ray County cat is Missouri's 12th confirmed mountain lion sighting since 1994. The Conservation Department says genetic testing will help determine if it's the same animal that was photographed in November by a landowner in nearby Platte County.
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AP Claims DHS Improper Censoring of Freedom Of Information Requests, Oversight Hearing Scheduled for Thursday

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Obama’s DHS Stonewalling FOIA Requests

Emails: Insiders worried over political 'meddling'

By TED BRIDIS, Associated Press Mon Mar 28
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WASHINGTON – The Homeland Security Department official in charge of submitting sensitive government files to political advisers for secretive reviews before they could be released to citizens, journalists and watchdog groups complained in emails that the unusual scrutiny was "crazy" and hoped someone outside the Obama administration would discover the practice, The Associated Press has learned.
Chief Privacy Officer Mary Ellen Callahan, who was appointed by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, complained in late 2009 that the vetting process was burdensome and said she wanted to change it, according to uncensored emails newly obtained by the AP. In the emails, she warned that the Homeland Security Department might be sued over delays the political reviews were causing, and she hinted that a reporter might find out about the vetting. The reviews are the subject of a congressional hearing later this week and an ongoing inquiry by the department's inspector general.
"This level of attention is CRAZY," Callahan wrote in December 2009 to her then-deputy, Catherine Papoi. Callahan said she hoped someone outside the Obama administration would discover details of the political reviews, possibly by asking for evidence of them under the Freedom of Information Act itself: "I really really want someone to FOIA this whole damn process," Callahan wrote.
Callahan is expected to be a central witness during an oversight hearing Thursday by the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee. Anticipating the hearing, the department announced internally Monday that any further political vetting of information requests will be completed within 24 hours. The congressional investigation into government transparency under President Barack Obama is among the earliest by Republicans since they won control of the House and targets one of the first pledges Obama made after he moved into the White House.
Less than one week after Callahan's email, on Dec. 21, the AP formally requested the records about the controversial political vetting. The agency ultimately turned over more than 995 pages of emails last summer, after a seven-month fight, and the AP wrote about the program. But the emails were heavily censored under a provision in the Freedom of Information Act allowing the government to withhold passages that describe internal policy-making deliberations.
The newly obtained versions of the same internal emails are not censored. They show that insiders described the unusual political vetting as "meddling," "nuts" and "bananas!" Together with other confidential emails obtained by the AP for the first time, the files reflect deep unease about the reviews and included allegations that Napolitano's senior political advisers might have hidden embarrassing or sensitive emails that journalists and watchdog groups had requested. The government said this didn't happen.
After an admitted al-Qaida operative tried to blow up a commercial airliner flying to Detroit on Christmas 2009, the AP asked for emails sent among Napolitano; her chief of staff, Noah Kroloff; deputy chief of staff Amy Shlossman; and four others. But the number of printed pages that Kroloff and Shlossman turned over to the FOIA unit was much less than what a computer search indicated should have existed, according to emails. The department said Monday that the disparity was an idiosyncrasy of how the computer searches were conducted and that no emails were hidden.
"I think we have an obligation to compare the hard copy emails to those pulled by the (chief information office) from the individuals' email accounts to determine why the discrepancy," Papoi wrote in May to Callahan.
Department spokeswoman Amy Kudwa said Monday that no emails were withheld by Napolitano's office, and no one complained that emails weren't turned over that should have been. The department said its electronically conducted searches distinguish each email within a conversation thread as a separate message, so the number of printed pages from such searches appears higher than when an employee manually prints emails from an inbox but the output is the same.
"At no point did anyone alert the office of the secretary or the office of the general counsel of concerns that responsive documents had not been submitted for review," Kudwa said in a statement. "Had any concerns been raised, appropriate steps would have been taken."
The Freedom of Information Act, the main tool forcing the government to be more transparent, is designed to be insulated from political considerations. Anyone who seeks information through the law is supposed to get it unless disclosure would hurt national security, violate personal privacy or expose confidential decision-making in certain areas. People can request government records without specifying why they want them and are not obligated to provide personal information about themselves other than their name and an address where the records should be sent.
But at the Homeland Security Department, since July 2009, career employees were ordered to provide political staffers with information about the people who asked for records — such as where they lived and whether they were private citizens or reporters — and about the organizations where they worked. If a member of Congress sought such documents, employees were told to specify Democrat or Republican. No one in government was allowed to discuss the political reviews with anyone whose information request was affected by them.
Papoi was replaced as deputy chief FOIA officer earlier this month by her new boss, Delores J. Barber, who took over Papoi's title and moved into Papoi's office. The Republican chairman of the House oversight committee, Rep. Darrell Issa of California, said that "appeared to be an act of retaliation." Issa identified Papoi as the employee who confidentially complained in March 2010 to the DHS inspector general about the political vetting of requests for government files. The department said Papoi, who is on leave, applied unsuccessfully for a new supervisory position ultimately awarded to Barber and that Papoi's salary was unaffected.
The emails also raise doubts about whether the emails previously released to the AP were properly censored. "The government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed or because of speculative or abstract fears," Obama said shortly after he took office.
In a statement, Kudwa said, "Redaction decisions have always been made by FOIA professionals and career legal staff."
The government censored Callahan's email that described the "crazy" scrutiny by political advisers. It also censored another email by associate FOIA director William Holzerland, who told Callahan in September 2009 that the political reviews were "bananas!" Also censored were complaints by Papoi, the former deputy, that the political reviews were "meddling" and, together with "constant stonewalling" by the department's top lawyers, causing delays in the agency's open records department.
"I currently have 98 requests that are tagged by the front office for tracking and forwarding to the front office," Papoi wrote in one previously censored passage. "I simply don't have the time or staff to review all of those requests before we send them on. Quite honestly, we shouldn't have to."
The AP protested last year that the emails it received had been improperly censored, but the Homeland Security Department never responded to its formal appeal.
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Online:
Censored copies of government emails: http://www.dhs.gov/xfoia/gc_1283193904791.shtm

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U.S. Budget Talks Hint of Compromise, April 8 Shutdown Looms

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Dems hint at flexibility in budget talks

Associated Press
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
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Democrats indicated Tuesday they may be willing to accept Republican-backed curbs on the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal regulators as part of an overall deal on spending cuts, a rare hint of compromise in private negotiations marked by public rancor.
There was no immediate reaction from the White House, although administration officials are working closely with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the secretive three-way talks that also include House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
Any concession by Democrats on non-spending items would mark an attempt to persuade Republicans to accept smaller budget cuts than the $61 billion contained in legislation that passed the House last month.
The talks are aimed at finding agreement on a bill to meet the Republicans' demand for spending cuts while funding the government through the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year.
A current short-term spending measure expires on April 8, and a partial government shutdown looms without further action by Congress by then.
The talks have taken place entirely out of public view, but in recent days, lawmakers in each party have swapped accusations while saying prospects for a deal were dimming.
This maneuvering took an unusual turn during the day when Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., could be heard advising fellow Democratic senators what to say in a conference call with reporters.
"The only way we can avoid a shutdown is for Boehner to come up with a reasonable compromise and not just listen to what the tea party wants," he said.
"I always use the word extreme. That's what the caucus instructed me to do the other week, extreme cuts and all these riders."
The term riders refers to the non-spending provisions Republicans included in the bill, some of which Democrats now signal that may accept.
At a news conference in the Capitol, Reid pointedly did not rule out the provisions that Republicans included in a $61 billion package of spending cuts.
"We're happy to look at the policy riders. There aren't many of them that excite me. But we're willing to look at them. In fact, we've already started looking at some," he said.
Other officials stressed that opposition remains strong to GOP attempts to defund or otherwise hamper implementation of the year-old health care law. Nor are Democrats willing to accept a cut-off in federal funds for the Planned Parenthood.
"It's too extreme," said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. "I don't see it happening."
But restrictions on the Environmental Protection Agency are the leading candidates for including in any agreement, according to numerous Democrats.
The House-passed measure includes provisions that would block the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases, which are blamed as a cause of global warming.
The agency would also be blocked from issuing or enforcing new regulations on the emission of mercury from cement factories, pollution into the Chesapeake Bay, surface coal mining and runoff into Florida waters.
Other elements of the House-passed bill would stop the administration from issuing new regulations on for-profit private schools and block the Federal Communications Commission from enforcing rules on the Internet that are opposed by Verizon and other Internet service providers.
These provisions drew support from Democrats when they cleared the House.
The Senate has not yet voted on any proposed restrictions on the EPA, but may do so Wednesday as part of a bill unrelated to the budget.
Democrats appear divided, with some likely to back proposals to block the agency from regulating greenhouse gases.

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U.S. NATO Commander Admits Al-Qaeda Linked To Libyan Rebels Receiving Tactical Military Support from U.S.


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Elements in the opposition are Al Qaeda according to intelligence, says NATO Commander. It seems the UK is attacking a devil to free the monsters.
Get rid of extremist and Al Qaida hating Kadhafi, put in the Al Qaeda. - that should reduce any threats to the west. smartmove
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US NATO Commander Admits Al-Qaeda Linked To Libyan Rebels

Steve Watson
Infowars.com
March 29, 2011


A top ranking NATO Commander has admitted that intelligence has uncovered elements of “al qaeda” amongst Libyan rebel fighters currently receiving tactical military support from US and European led operations inside the country.

The admission serves as yet more confirmation that radical Islamic fundamentalists are part of the opposition groups attempting to oust the nationalist dictatorship of Muammar Gaddafi, with the help of the US and its NATO allies.

“We are examining very closely the content, composition, the personalities, who are the leaders of these opposition forces,” Admiral James Stavridis, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, and also the commander of U.S. European Command, said during testimony at the U.S. Senate.

“…we have seen flickers in the intelligence of potential al Qaeda, Hezbollah, we’ve seen different things.” Stavridis said, while adding that the rebels leadership appeared to be comprised also of “responsible men and women”.

NATO shouldn’t need to look far for such intelligence, however, given that last week the supreme commander of anti Gaddafi rebels forces in Libya acknowledged that among the ranks of those fighting against the government are islamic militants who have fought and killed US troops in Iraq.

Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi, who made the remarks in an interview with Il Sole 24 Ore, an Italian newspaper, also admitted that he had previously recruited fundamentalists to fight in Iraq, and said that the fighters are “today are on the front lines in Adjabiya”.

Those fighters violently oppose the secular regime of Gaddafi and wish to see it destroyed and replaced with sharia law in Libya.
Despite these facts and admissions, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice says the Obama administration has still not ruled out military support for the Libyan rebels.

“We have not made that decision but we’ve not certainly ruled that out,” Rice told “Good Morning America” anchor George Stephanopoulos on Tuesday morning. She did not answer a question about whether military support would include arming the rebels.

Why aid al qaeda affiliated rebels? Well for one, they are more open to dealing directly with US and European oil companies than Gaddafi who has been considering completely nationalizing the oil industryfor the last eighteen months.

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Obama’s Unconstitutional War: America's Imperial Presidency UPDATE: Obama Didn’t Make 'the Case': Congressman Joe Heck, R-Nev., says he still has “many questions” UPDATE: MORE OBAMA DOUBLE-SPEAK Claims He Consulted - Congress Never Gave Approval

Obama’s Unconstitutional War

By unilaterally going to war against Libya, Obama is bringing America closer to the imperial presidency than Bush ever did.

BY BRUCE ACKERMAN

www.foreignpolicy.com

In taking the country into a war with Libya, Barack Obama's administration is breaking new ground in its construction of an imperial presidency -- an executive who increasingly acts independently of Congress at home and abroad. Obtaining a U.N. Security Council resolution has legitimated U.S. bombing raids under international law. But the U.N. Charter is not a substitute for the U.S. Constitution, which gives Congress, not the president, the power "to declare war."
After the Vietnam War, Congress passed the War Powers Resolution, which granted the president the power to act unilaterally for 60 days in response to a "national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces." The law gave the chief executive an additional 30 days to disengage if he failed to gain congressional assent during the interim.   
But, again, these provisions have little to do with the constitutionality of the Libyan intervention, since Libya did not attack our "armed forces." The president failed to mention this fundamental point in giving Congress notice of his decision on Monday, in compliance with another provision of the resolution. Without an armed "attack," there is no compelling reason for the president to cut Congress out of a crucial decision on war and peace.
This is particularly striking since, in the Libyan case, the president had plenty of time to get congressional support. A broad coalition -- from Senator John McCain to Senator John Kerry -- could have been mobilized on behalf of a bipartisan resolution as the administration engaged in the necessary international diplomacy. But apparently Obama thought it more important to lobby the Arab League than the U.S. Congress.
In cutting out Congress, Obama has overstepped even the dubious precedent set when President Bill Clinton bombed Kosovo in 1999. Then, the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel asserted that Congress had given its consent by appropriating funds for the Kosovo campaign. It was a big stretch, given the actual facts -- but Obama can't even take advantage of this same desperate expedient, since Congress has appropriated no funds for the Libyan war. The president is simply using money appropriated to the Pentagon for general purposes to conduct the current air campaign.
The War Powers Resolution doesn't authorize a single day of Libyan bombing. But it does provide an escape hatch, stating that it is not "intended to alter the constitutional authority of the Congress or of the President." So it's open for Obama to assert that his power as commander in chief allows him to wage war without Congress, despite the Constitution's insistence to the contrary.
Many modern presidents have made such claims, and Harry Truman acted upon this assertion in Korea. But it's surprising to find Obama on the verge of ratifying such precedents. He was elected in reaction to the unilateralist assertions of John Yoo and other apologists for George W. Bush-era illegalities. Yet he is now moving onto ground that even Bush did not occupy. After a lot of talk about his inherent powers, Bush did get Congress to authorize his wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now, Obama is putting Bush-era talk into action in Libya -- without congressional authorization.
The president's insistence that his Libyan campaign is limited in its purposes and duration is no excuse. These are precisely the issues that he should have defined in collaboration with Congress. Now that he claims inherent power, why can't he redefine U.S. objectives on his own? No less important, what is to stop some future president from using Obama's precedent to justify even more aggressively unilateral actions?
The buck stops on Capitol Hill. As always, presidential unilateralism puts Congress in a tough position. It cannot afford to cut off funds immediately and put the lives of Americans, and U.S. allies, in danger. But it can pass a bill denying future funding after three months. This would prevent the president from expanding the mission unless he can gain express congressional consent.
The U.S. Congress should also take more fundamental steps to bring the imperial presidency under control. In the aftermath of Watergate, Congress went beyond the War Powers Resolution to enact a series of framework statutes that tried to impose the rule of law on a runaway presidency. Many of these statutes have failed to work as planned, but they were the product of a serious investigation led by Senator Frank Church and Representative Otis Pike during the 1970s. A similar inquest is imperative today. In many respects, Bush's war on terrorism was a more sweeping breach of constitutional norms than anything Richard Nixon attempted in Watergate. Yet Congress has been silent, trusting Obama to clean house on his own.
The president has shown, by his actions, that this trust is not justified. If Congress fails to respond, we have moved one large step further down the path to a truly imperial presidency.

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Obama Didn’t Make 'the Case'

Bill Clark/Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- Congressman Joe Heck, R-Nev., says he still has “many questions” after President Obama’s address Monday night on Libya.
Currently serving as colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, Rep. Heck tells ABC News he is concerned about the United States’ military role in Libya and how long it could last.
“The president used the analogy to Bosnia [Monday] night in his speech, but we're still in Bosnia some 15 years after we first went in and the same type of situation by trying to enforce a no-fly zone to alleviate the humanitarian crisis,” the congressman said. “So what is it that we're hoping to accomplish? Why are we there? And what are we hoping to gain and when are we going to get out?”
Worrying about the financial implications of U.S. forces in Libya, Rep. Heck told ABC News the recent congressional budget battles have put agencies such as the Department of Defense in a “rough spot.”
Heck voted in favor of a Republican bill to cut government spending this year that included cuts to the Department of Energy's nuclear energy safety programs. He says that even after the nuclear crisis in Japan he wouldn't change his position on those cuts.
“I would not reconsider the nuclear cuts,” Rep. Heck said.  “The appropriations committee did due process in looking at where there was the ability to cut some spending and that's what we did and now it's time to look forward to fiscal year '12.”
Pivoting to 2012 politics, the congressman told ABC News he is already throwing his support behind anticipated 2012 candidate Mitt Romney. Having backed the former Massachusetts governor since 2008, the congressman says Romney’s controversial Massachusetts health care bill is “not a concern.”
“There’s a lot more insured people in the state of Massachusetts but the important thing was it was a program designed by the state for the state not a federal program that's being rammed down the state's throat.”
The congressman was also asked if he would continue to support former Senate candidate Sharron Angle in a race for a Nevada congressional seat. He replied, “I have no idea.”

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Fact Check: How Obama's Libya claims fit facts - They Don't follow link below

http://news.yahoo.com/video/us-15749625/fact-check-how-obama-s-libya-claims-fit-facts-24698537There may be less than meets the eye to President Barack Obama's statements Monday night that NATO is taking over from the U.S. in Libya and that U.S. action is limited to defending people under…


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...War of Words Over Libya War

Daniel Stone Fri Mar 25, 2011

NEW YORK – The GOP's War of Words Over Libya WarHouse Speaker John Boehner says Obama didn’t consult Congress about the war in Libya. The White House claims “we have.” Daniel Stone on the partisan argument over the word “consult.”

Is the current debate between the White House and Capitol Hill over U.S. airstrikes in Libya—and who authorized them—simply semantic?

Republican leaders (and even some Democrats) have ripped the administration all week for its unilateral—and constitutionally questionable—rush to military action in Libya. House Speaker John Boehner sent President Obama a pointed letter Wednesday evening, calling it “regrettable that no opportunity was afforded to consult with congressional leaders, as was the custom of your predecessors.”

Press Secretary Jay Carney countered Boehner’s argument Thursday, saying that Hill leaders had been consulted repeatedly. He read a lengthy list of dates, times and attendees at White House meetings in the days before the missiles and warplanes launched. “The president believes that consultations with Congress are important,” Carney said, referencing a marquee gathering last Friday, when a bipartisan group of lawmakers crowded into the Situation Room for a briefing on the administration’s plan. “He has done that, and he’s instructed senior staff here to do that. And we have.”

And there lies the apparent problem: the word consult.

Congressional critics admit they were informed of initial plans, but saying they were consulted suggests they were asked for input. Instead, many complain they were simply given a heads-up. The administration “said we were consulted, but we weren’t,” says a senior House Republican staffer who asked for anonymity to speak candidly. “We were briefed. There’s a big difference. At the end of the day, no one asked for any of our opinions until the plan was set.”

The White House has insisted there are several reasons why the administration gave military orders without waiting for supporting resolutions from both chambers. For one, getting a majority of Congress to agree on any major issue has been, over the past two years, a nearly Herculean task. And then there is the issue of time: most lawmakers had already left Washington for a weeklong “constituent work week” when military operations started last weekend. Waiting until they came back could have risked a bloodbath inflicted on civilians and rebel fighters by Muammar Gaddafi’s military. “Leadership requires [the president] to take action when action will save lives and delaying action will cost lives,” Carney said.

“Maybe they think they can get by with a technicality,” says Republican strategist Cheri Jacobus, “but there’s a sense there was not proper consultation with Congress.”

Yet critics aren’t buying the argument that time was running out. “It’s a hollow case that they didn’t have enough time,” GOP Rep. Roscoe Bartlett tells The Daily Beast. “They had time to consult entities and countries all over the world: the United Nations and the Arab League. They needed to ask our elected leaders. And because this is going to increase the debt we’re leaving to our children, we should have consulted our young people.”

Bartlett and several of his colleagues insist the complaints aren’t partisan. “We’re not trying to attack the president,” says Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Boehner. “What we’re looking for is clarity.” Indeed, few lawmakers have been able to delineate precisely what they would have done differently, aside from general disagreements about the size and scope of the operation. Their main complaint is that they weren’t asked for approval.
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Donald Trump Releases Official Birth Certificate UPDATE: Donald Trump Tells Obama Show the Birth Certificate VIDEO



3/29/2011

(NEW YORK) -- Donald Trump learned the hard way this week that if you're going to call on the president to release his official birth certificate, you'd better do the same.
Trump, who has been putting pressure on President Obama lately to make public his long-form birth certificate from Hawaii, decided to set a good example and release his own on Monday. The only problem was, the document that Trump provided to the conservative Website Newsmax wasn't his actual birth certificate, but rather a  "hospital certificate of birth."
On Tuesday, Trump, who is contemplating a presidential run in 2012, sought to correct the oversight, providing a copy of his official birth certificate issued by the New York City Department of Health to ABC News.
It shows that "Donald John Trump" was born June 14, 1946 in Jamaica Hospital in Queens. It lists his father as Fred C. Trump and his mother as Mary Mac Leod. The date of the report is listed as June 14, 1946.
The image came with an accompanying memo from a member of Trump's staff.
"A 'birth certificate' and a 'certificate of live birth' are in no way the same thing, even though in some cases they use some of the same words," wrote Trump staffer Thuy Colayco in a message to ABC News. "One officially confirms and records a newborn child’s identity and details of his or her birth, while the other only confirms that someone reported the birth of a child. Also, a 'certificate of live birth' is very easy to get because the standards are much lower, while a 'birth certificate' is only gotten through a long and detailed process wherein identity must be proved beyond any doubt. If you had only a certificate of live birth, you would not be able to get a proper passport from the Post Office or a driver’s license from the Department of Motor Vehicles. Therefore, there is very significant difference between a 'certificate of live birth' and a 'birth certificate' and one should never be confused with the other."
Trump has been turning up the volume on his calls for Obama, who has been the target of allegations that he was not born in the United States by so-called "birthers," to release his official birth certificate.
"This guy either has a birth certificate or he doesn't," Trump said in an interview on Fox News on Monday. "I didn't think this was such a big deal, but I will tell you, it's turning out to be a very big deal because people now are calling me from all over saying please don't give up on this issue."
The Obama campaign released a "certification of live birth," which is a shorter document that carries the same legal weight as the long one, in 2008.
Trump has brought up the issue again and again. In a recent interview with ABC's The View, he said that Obama has "a terrible pale that's hanging over with him" because of his refusal to release the document.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio
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Trump Tells Obama to Show the Birth Certificate

Infowars.com
March 23, 2011
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Is Donald Trump a “birther,” that political fate worse than death — or almost? Only “truthers” are more reviled by the establishment.
The Donald went on The View and said Obama needs to show the birth certificate.
“I want him to show his birth certificate. I want him to show his birth certificate,” he said. “Everybody else has to. Excuse me. I really believe there is a birth certificate. Look, she’s smiling. Why doesn’t he show his birth certificate? I wish he would. I think it’s a terrible pale hanging over him.”
And if it is discovered Barry was not born in the United States? What then?
Can we send him back to Chicago? Or to prison for tricking the nation?
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Missouri Looks To Improve Rail Service Between St. Louis, Kansas City, Will Seek Federal Money

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Railroad lines in Gasconade County could see improvements to boost speed and schedule reliability as Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced Tuesday the state will apply for nearly $1 billion in federal railroad funds. 

The money would improve existing lines between St. Louis and Kansas City and be used for planning of a high-speed rail between the two cities.


If granted, about $373 million of the federal funds would be used in the immediate future for significant improvements and upgrades to rail equipment and infrastructure, and would complement the high-speed rail project already underway in the St. Louis to Chicago corridor, the Governor's office said. Another $600 million would be used over the longer term to complete necessary planning and design for building the separate, dedicated high-speed line across Missouri, and for purchasing necessary properties.

“The design, planning and construction of this project would create high-paying jobs in communities across Missouri over the next several years, and provide the necessary resources to prepare for construction of a dedicated high-speed passenger line,” Gov. Nixon said. “It would be a transformative step for Missouri, both in terms of the jobs created and in developing this mode of transportation between our state’s two largest metropolitan areas and the cities along the route, including the state capital.”


“This is an exciting opportunity in terms of both transportation and economic development that we will not let go by,” Gov. Nixon said. “We will submit an extremely competitive application and work aggressively to turn these funds into new jobs and economic growth here in Missouri.”
 

The Missouri Department of Transportation will submit the application to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration.


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Robertsville Man Charged With Wife's Murder UPDATE: Robertsville Area Man Admits To Shooting Wife UPDATE: Double Shooting near Robertsville, One Dead Other Wounded Franklin County Missouri


Robertsville Man Charged With Wife's Murder

The Franklin County man accused of killing his wife, then apparently trying to end his own life, was charged Monday with First Degree Murder and Armed Criminal Action. Randy Price, 39, of Robertsville, was charged in the shooting death of his wife, Tiffany Price, 36.
 

Randy Price suffered a gunshot wound to the head, believed to be self-inflicted, on Saturday, Mar. 19, at his home in the 5000 block of Highway N. While on the scene, deputies found his wife's body in a shed near the home. Randy Price was expected to be released from the hospital this week.
 

Price's bond was set at $1 million.
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Sheriff: Robertsville Area Man Admits To Shooting Wife

by dfox
KLPW Radio
03/23/2011

Franklin County Sheriff Gary Toelke confirmed Wednesday the Robertsville area man who suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head Saturday, Mar. 19, has admitted to the earlier shooting of his wife. The man, identified in previous statements from the Sheriff's department as Randy Price, 39, was still hospitalized as of Wednesday afternoon at St. John's Mercy Medical Center in Creve Coeur.

Franklin County Prosecutor Bob Parks said charges would not be considered until after his office received reports from the Sheriff's department, and after Randy Price was transferred to the hospital's psychiatric ward, expected to occur once Price was healthy enough to move.
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Robertsville Man Recovering After Attempted Suicide

Believed to Have Murdered His Wife

www.emissourian.com
Mar 22, 2011

A Franklin County man who was wounded Saturday in an apparent suicide attempt appears to be making a "dramatic" recovery, law enforcement officials said.

County deputies responded about noon Saturday to a house at 5047 Highway N in the Robertsville area after receiving a report that the homeowner, Randy O. Price, 39, had suffered a gunshot wound to the head.

Following a search of the property, deputies also found the body of Price's wife, Tiffany Price, 36, and are investigating the case as a possible murder/attempted suicide.

Price was transported by air ambulance to St. John's Mercy Medical Center, Creve Coeur, where he underwent surgery, the sheriff's office reported.

Lt. Chuck Subke said he interviewed Price at the hospital Sunday and had reports that man had been up and walking around.

Deputies on the scene began searching the property after the man's children told them that their mother had not been seen since Thursday, March 17.

About 2:10 p.m. deputies found the body of Tiffany Price in an RV parked in a shed at the residence. The woman had been shot, according to reports.

In an interview, the couple's 14-year-old daughter said Randy Price told her and her siblings that her mother would be gone for a few days. The girl said she sent text messages to her mother and received responses, but the mother would not answer her calls.
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One dead in double shooting near Robertsville, Mo

March 19, 2011
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St. Louis, Mo (KSDK) - Authorities in Franklin County are investigating a double shooting at a residence in the 5000 block of Highway N, just south of Robertsville, Mo. Police were called to the scene shortly before 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon.
Police say a man and woman were  found in the home, both suffering from gunshot wounds. The female victim is deceased and the male victim was airlifted to St. John's Mercy Medical Center in Creve Coeur.


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ROBERTSVILLE • A woman is dead and her husband in the hospital after what Franklin County authorities are investigating as a murder and failed suicide.
Police responding to a call for a gunshot found Randy O. Price, 39, shot in the head with a 9 MM handgun at his home on Highway N in Robertsville. While there, police later discovered the body of his wife in an RV on the property.
Tiffany Price, 36, had also been shot.
Franklin County Sheriff Gary F. Toelke said there were seven children at the residence when they arrived -- four children of the Prices, and three friends of the children.
According to police, Tiffany Price had not been seen by her children since Thursday.
Randy Price, police said, told their children that she had left to be "gone for a few days." Price's 14-year-old daughter sent text messages to her mother's phone, and received replies; however, phone calls were left unreturned.
Sheriff's deputies searching the home on Saturday found Tiffany Price's cell phone inside the residence.
Toelke said his department is investigating the incident as a murder-suicide gone awry. Randy Price was taken to St. John's Hospital in Creve Coeur. His condition is unknown, though Toelke said brain damage is a possibility.
Police contacted the state family services division and surviving relatives to take care of the Prices' children.

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