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There’s really no good reason why the Capitol Hill police have to act as the political attack team for the Republicans, is there?

WASHINGTON — In a stunning break with First Amendment policy, House Republicans directed Capitol Hill police to detain a highly regarded documentary crew that was attempting to film a Wednesday hearing on a controversial natural gas procurement practice. Republicans also denied the entrance of a credentialed ABC News news team that was attempting to film the event.

Josh Fox, director of the Academy Award-nominated documentary “Gasland” was taken into custody by Capitol Hill police this morning, along with his crew, after Republicans objected to their presence, according to Democratic sources present at the hearing. The meeting of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment had been taking place in room 2318 of the Rayburn building.
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$300 million

Of course, a lot of money went into Gov. Tom Corbett’s campaign to help make that tax go away:

Since 2009, Pennsylvania has lost more than $300 million in revenue by not passing a tax on gas production from Marcellus Shale wells, according to The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center.

The Harrisburg-based tax and budget policy research nonprofit said its drilling tax ticker breached the benchmark on Monday, representing lost revenue Pennsylvania could be using to reduce cuts to state funding in education, health care and social services.

The money also could be used to fund environmental protection and conservation, and to mitigate impacts of drilling on local communities, the center said.

R.I.P.

Don Cornelius, 75, of Soul Train.

Same crap

Different decade. Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran!

Unprecedented

Hopefully, nothing will go wrong:

After drilling for two decades through more than two miles of antarctic ice, Russian scientists are on the verge of entering a vast, dark lake that hasn’t been touched by light for more than 20 million years.

Scientists are enormously excited about what life-forms might be found there but are equally worried about contaminating the lake with drilling fluids and bacteria, and the potentially explosive “de-gassing” of a body of water that has especially high concentrations of oxygen and nitrogen.

Speaking of birth control

Of course, all those women should just make lemonade out of lemons and give birth – because obviously, God wants them to do it:

Around one million packets of birth control tablets are being recalled in the US, as they might not prevent pregnancy.

The pharmaceutical company Pfizer said a “packaging error” meant the doses were not correct.

It said the tablets did not pose any health dangers, but there was a risk of “unintended pregnancy”.

Pfizer is advising women affected to use non-hormonal forms of contraception immediately.

Fourteen lots of Lo/Ovral-28 tablets and 14 lots of Norgestrel and ethinyl estradiol tablets have been recalled. The lot numbers have been published on the company’s website.

Stacking the deck

You don’t suppose that placing these big bets against homeowner re-fis might lead to some problems down the road, do you? I mean, it’s not as if banks have ever done anything like this before:

Freddie Mac agreed last month to stop making new bets against American homeowners after its regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, raised concerns, according to a statement the agency issued late Monday. Freddie, the taxpayer-owned mortgage giant, still retains $5 billion worth of such bets.

The agency, responding to an investigation by ProPublica and NPR, said it had “identified concerns regarding the controls, including risk management, surrounding the inverse floaters,” as the investments at issue are known. The agency did not specify what it had found, but said Freddie agreed in December that “these transactions would not resume pending completion of [FHFA’s] examination work.”

The statement also said that Freddie had ceased making the deals earlier in 2011 but did not explain why.

Separately, the White House said the Department of the Treasury is “looking into” Freddie’s investments, and at least three senators called on Freddie not to bet against struggling homeowners.The mortgage-insurance company bought billions worth of complex mortgage-backed securities that profit if borrowers stay trapped in high interest rate home loans. The $5 billion figure released Monday afternoon is more than had been reported in the ProPublica-NPR investigation.

In late 2010 and early 2011, Freddie began dramatically increasing these multibillion-dollar deals. At the same time, Freddie also made it harder for homeowners to get out of their high-interest mortgages and into more affordable loans that could save them thousands of dollars a year. No evidence has emerged that these decisions were coordinated at the company, and Freddie has denied that they were.

But the deals highlight a conflict of interest: While Freddie’s charter calls for the company to make home loans more accessible, the company also has giant investment portfolios that could lose large amounts of money, at least in the short run, if too many borrowers refinance into more affordable loans.

At a press briefing today, White House spokesman Jay Carney was asked whether Freddie Mac’s investment strategy contradicted President Barack Obama’s stated commitment to make homeowner refinancing more affordable. In his response, Carney stressed that the president does not directly control FHFA.”This is an independent institution with independent governance, so we don’t make those kinds of decisions,” Carney said.

Wingnut scum

It’s infuriating. My state’s been taken over by the wingnut shock troops, and the voters aren’t even really paying attention yet. As difficult as it is to get a job in this economy, the same old Chamber dirtbags are insisting the unemployed just aren’t trying hard enough:

HARRISBURG — Thousands of Pennsylvanians will see their federally funded unemployment benefits expire after this week, with legislation to extend those checks lingering in the state House of Representatives.

A pending measure, which passed the state Senate last week, would offer 13 additional weeks of benefits to the state’s jobless residents. The federal funding was approved by Congress in December but requires the state to tweak its unemployment compensation rules in order to receive those dollars.

That bill is awaiting consideration by a House panel, which has a vote scheduled for Monday. Legislative staffers say the belatedly approved benefits would be retroactive, but pressures to also enact broader changes to the state’s unemployment compensation system could further hold up that assistance.

Approximately 17,000 residents would be affected if the benefit extension is not approved, according to the state’s Department of Labor & Industry.

It’s unclear whether House lawmakers will quickly vote on the bill, which would then go to Gov. Tom Corbett’s desk for his signature, or insert additional changes. The General Assembly approved a sweeping overhaul of the unemployment compensation system in June, when it also extended federal benefits by 13 weeks.

Those changes, which required the unemployed to actively seek work to receive their benefit checks and froze the maximum amount of weekly benefits, should be expanded further, says the state’s Chamber of Business and Industry. Those business leaders wrote to lawmakers urging them to insert provisions to help address the insolvency of Pennsylvania’s unemployment compensation trust fund.

Women are no longer going to put up with this crap. Seriously, so many women have been helped by Planned Parenthood that Komen has awakened a sleeping giant by politicizing cancer screenings:

Breast cancer charity giant Susan G. Komen for the Cure on Tuesday did not renew a grant to Planned Parenthood to fund breast exams. The move comes less than a year after Komen hired a new vice president, who has publicly stated her opposition to abortion, a service provided at some Planned Parenthood facilities.

Komen’s new vice president, Karen Handel, had run for governor of Georgia in 2010 on an aggressively anti-abortion and anti-Planned Parenthood platform and was endorsed by Sarah Palin because of her opposition to reproductive choice. Handel wrote in her campaign blog that she “do[es] not support the mission of Planned Parenthood.”

“During my time as Chairman of Fulton County, there were federal and state pass-through grants that were awarded to Planned Parenthood for breast and cervical cancer screening, as well as a ‘Healthy Babies Initiative,'” Handel wrote. “Since grants like these are from the state I’ll eliminate them as your next Governor.” She also wrote that she opposes stem cell research and supports crisis pregnancy centers, which are unregulated, Christian-run operations whose main mission is to convince pregnant women not to have abortions.

After Handel lost the gubernatorial primary, Susan G. Komen for the Cure named her to be its senior vice president in April 2011.

Scrapple News: Dateline January 2013

Fresh off the griddle: Joe Paterno is still dead, the Inquirer/DN might as well be, Chris Christie is an apologist for George Wallace, and more!

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