House Minority Leader John Boehner sent a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi this week asking her to appoint a bi-partisan task force "to assess and clarify the chamber's hopeless broken new ethics rules."
“Members on both sides of the aisle are understandably frustrated
because they know you can’t ‘clean up Congress’ with confusing rules
that are as difficult to comply with as they are to enforce,” he wrote,
referencing part of the Democrats’ campaign message from last year.
Here are a few of the new rules he listed which Boehner said "are as difficult to comply with as they are to enforce."
A staffer may attend an evening reception hosted by a corporation and consume shrimp, champagne, sliced filet, and canapes...but may not accept a slice of pizza or a $7 box lunch provided by the very same corporation at a policy briefing the next day.
Although Members and staff may play in a $1000 per person charity golf tournament to benefit a local scholarship fund, they are prohibited from similarly helping the Red Cross raise funds to help Katrina victims by playing in its tournament-solely because the Red Cross employs lobbyists.
A Member may accept $200 tickets for the Final Four from Ohio State (public university), but not $20 tickets to a preseason game from Xavier University (private university).
A member who has his own airplane is prohibited from flying it for any purpose-official, campaign or personal-even at his own expense.
A staffer invited to a post-season barbeque for her daughter's soccer team may not attend once she learns that it will be held in the home of a player who's father is a lobbyist.
A member may not take a privately funded trip if a lobbyist accompanies him to and from Washington; but the same Member may spend five days in Brussels discussing Global Warming with environmental group lobbyists--as long as none of them are on the same flights to and from the meeting.
Although a Member may not accept dinner from a lobbyist who uses his own funds or those of his firm, he may accept accept dinner from the very same lobbyist using a credit card provided by his state or local government clients.
A corporate executive who is not a lobbyist may not use his expense account to take a member out to dinner, but may-in many cases-take the same Member to dinner using his personal account.
The contaminate in pet food which has been poisoning our animals for too many months has finally been identified, according to FDA veteranary medicine director, Stephen Sundlof. Investigators believe that the wheat gluten found in pet foods was somehow mixed with Melamine in China. Melamine is a synthetic polymer which is fire resistant and heat resistant. It is used to make floor tiles, kitchenware, fire retardant fabrics and commercial filters.
The FDA also said that one company which makes the "wet" dog food which has been contaminated also uses wheat gluten to make their dry dog food. They cannot at this time say whether the dry food has the poisonous melamine. This is very scary news since so many pet owners have been feeding their animals exclusively dry food since this story broke. Menu Foods says they discontinued their supplier on March 6 so any food produced after that date is safe. Who's going to find pet food, canned or dry, that recently packaged and on the shelves? For pete's sake even the freshness date on beer is usually at least 6 weeks old.
So this product which has sickened and killed who knows how many dogs and cats begins with a Canadian company which uses a Chinese factory which then sends the partially finished food back to Ontario Canada and then on to Emporia Kansas where it is finished and canned.
The Illinois senate voted 45-10 to allow the big over the road tractor trailers to drive at 65 mph, the same as passenger cars, up from the current 55 mph.
Problem is, these trucks drive that 65 mph speed right now. Anyone who drives up and down Illinois interstates knows this. So allowing a higher speed will only encourage the trucks to go even faster which increases the danger to everyone else on the road. Happily this bill may not make it into law since Governor Blagojevich has already twice vetoed truck speed increases.
Big rigs are getting bigger and bigger, longer and longer. Increased speed limits will not make the Illinois roads safer, just the opposite.
Harvard medical school scientists studied the effect of prayer on by-pass surgery patients and found that prayer had no effect on recovery and those who knew they were being prayed for had more complications.
This is not only bad science, but bad theology. As Dr. Harold G. Koenig, director of the Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health at the Duke University Medical Center, said, "There are no scientific grounds to expect a result and there are no
real theological grounds to expect a result either," he said. "There is
no god in either the Christian, Jewish or Moslem scriptures that can be
constrained to the point that they can be predicted."
"Science, he said, "is not designed to study the supernatural."
I prefer Luke 4:1-13. "Do not tempt the Lord your God."
Tuesday, April 3rd, is election day in St. Louis and it's suburbs, a time when voters will elect their city council and school board officials as well as decide on a few referendums, propositions or resolutions.
Steve Patterson of Urban Review has compiled a complete summary of the upcoming elections, all credit to him for such a complete rendering. What stands out in all this is how few offices will be contested. Out of 259 open seats only 90 have any competition. That's 35 percent. This means, as Steve commented, 65 percent will be elected simply by filing for office.
Unbelievable. Having spent most of my life in Illinois where local offices are normally hard fought, this low number of people seeking to serve as city mayors, aldermen and school board members is just...sad.
The Post-Dispatch has an election guide for voters in which the newest candidate for the Clayton school board has been left out of the story. Deborah Carter is an official write-in candidate, making that board's election competitive.
On Tuesday the Illinois senate voted 57-0 to designate the Goldrush Apple the state fruit. The vote was given a standing ovation and 'shout out' by students from Woodlawn Elementary school who were at the capitol. The Woodlawn students initiated the Goldrush Apple plan last fall. The apple bill now heads to the state House for its vote.
A Goldrush Apple looks rather like a Golden Delicious and according to this press release from Gurney's Seed and Nursery: "U.S. Patent No. 9392 One of the best tasting apples ever! Keeps
in the refrigerator until June of the year following harvest. Retains
crisp texture and, like a fine wine, Goldrush flavor gets even better
with time. Exceptional for fresh eating, out of this world for pies and
cider! Quick to bear, good disease resistance. A real winner!"
Keeps in the refrigerator from October to June. That's pretty amazing and to think I've never heard of this variety nor have I ever seen it among the myriad apple choices in the grocery stores.
St. Louis Mayor, Francis Slay, uses his blog to make his case for Charter schools and has some interesting things to say about just who does and who doesn't provide financial support to these schools. The big guys in St. Louis education have turned their back on sponsoring them while some of the little guys have helped. Wash U, SLU, Webster, UMSL, etc have refused to sponsor which leaves only Missouri Baptist College having done so.
Peace protesters used lawn fertilizer to create a peace sign in the lawn in front of the west side of the U.S. Capitol. A judicial use of the chemical, the peace sign was much greener than the surrounding grass.
A capitol police officer said, "That's one of the smartest things I've seen protesters do."