Daily Archives: March 12, 2009

Congressional Democrats announce earmark reforms

From Raw Story

After this week’s media coverage of the heavily earmarked omnibus spending bill, leading congressional Democrats and the Appropriations Committee triumphantly announced two earmark reform recommendations this morning. President Obama, who helped write the committee’s recommendations, admitted that the $410 billion spending bill was imperfect but insisted that “important progress” was being made.

The reforms were published today in a joint release from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. The Democrat-led initiative has two facets, both focusing on increasing the power of the executive branch. The first part of the reform specified a review by an “appropriate executive branch agency.” A review, according to the document, will ensure that “the earmark is eligible to receive funds and meets goals established in law.” The second part of the recommendation is aimed at cutting down for-profit earmarks; earmarks directed towards for-profit entities will have to undergo a “competitive bidding process” in order to be a part of legislation. The bidding process will also be run by the executive branch.

If these recommendations are enacted by Congress, this will be the third stage of reforms aimed at fixing the earmark problem. In January 2007, the House of Representatives enacted a set of rules concerning earmark ownership and fiscal interest, as well as a 1-year earmarking moratorium. And starting with fiscal year 2010, new earmarks come with a homework assignment for their owner; all Members’ requests for earmarks are to be publicly disclosed on their website with an explanation of why it is an appropriate use of taxpayer money. The new fiscal year will also bring a permanent earmark ‘budget’. No more than 1% of the total discretionary budget will be used for congressional district’s pet projects.

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Filed under Appropriations Committee, Congressional Democrats, earmarks, Nancy Pelosi, Omnibus spending bill, President Obama, Raw Story

Justice Has Been Served: Iraq shoe thrower sentenced to three years in jail

My buddies and I were just talking about the Iraqi shoe thrower yesterday at work, we were wondering what ever happened to him. The last we heard he had became some kind of Islamic cult hero.

Today Reuters News Service is following up on the story and reports that he has finally been sentenced to 3 years in prison for his vicious attack on President Bush.

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – A Baghdad court sentenced an Iraqi reporter who hurled his shoes at former U.S. president George W. Bush to three years in prison on Thursday.

Muntazer al-Zaidi worked for Al-Baghdadiya television, and earned instant worldwide fame when he threw his shoes at Bush at a news conference in December, calling him a dog.

“This sentence is harsh and is not in harmony with the law, and eventually the defense team will contest this in the appeals court,” said Dhiaa al-Saadi, the head of Zaidi’s defense team.

Zaidi’s sister Ruqaiya burst into tears, shouting “Down with Maliki, the agent of the Americans,” referring to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

Zaidi’s brother, Uday, said the verdict was politically motivated.
(Reporting by Waleed Ibrahim, Writing by Mohammed Abbas: Editing by Samia Nakhoul)


Filed under Iraqi journalist, Muntazer al-Zaidi, President Bush, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, Reuters News Service, sentenced to prison, shoe thrower

Extra Extra Read All About It – The Courier Is Sold To New Owner

Yesterday was a sad day after I read the post on Melissa Gaffney’s blog Sableminded about the April 1st demise of the Courier newspaper.
I have been a fan of the Courier for  a long time, and have been lending this blog to the online version of it for a number of months now. At one point I was considering having MiddletownMike visitors redirected to the Courier version of this blog. I had been hearing for quite awhile that the Courier was in trouble and that it’s future was in question, but I had thought and hope that the paper would somehow survive and live on in some form or another, but due to that uncertainty  the redirect just never seemed to happen.
When the Courier’s publisher Jim Purcell announced that the Courier was only going to publish bi-weekly and that through a partnership with Rutgers University, it was going to attempt to survive on-line as a web based publication, I was at first disheartened.  I became encouraged a few weeks later however when I was told by Jim that it looked like the web based model was going to work out, revenue had already increased over the previous months due to the new venture with Rutgers.
So, when I heard a couple of weeks ago that the Azzolina family had changed their mind and no longer desired to be in the news business it came as a mild shock, if they couldn’t find a buyer they were going to shutdown operations.  I didn’t quite want to believe it, after all the paper seemed to be on track to  profitability once again. Needless to say then, that when I stopped by the office to say hello, it was a rather gloomy place.  
Today though, when I returned home from work and logged onto the blog I noticed  the headline on the Courier widget “The Courier is sold to new owner“, my spirits were lifted.
I don’t know who has brought the Courier or whether or not that they intend to keep the online version up and running, but I am happy that they did. It would have been a real loss to the bayshore if the paper had folded, the Courier after all has been a staple of northern Monmouth County for since 1955. 
As for MiddletownMike’s future with the Courier, I don’t have an answer for that just yet. I need to make a few phone calls to see what the future may hold. I am just glad that the paper did not fade away like so many others have done lately.
I am also happy to think that some of the people at the Courier, who have become my friends, may now not have to worry about losing their jobs and finding employment elsewhere. I hope  

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Filed under Bayshore, blogs, demise of newspapers, Jim Purcell, Joe Azzolina, Melissa Gaffney, Monmouth County, Rutgers University, Sableminded, The Courier, web-based publication