Thursday, January 30, 2014


10.4 Million Americans Are Currently Unemployed. (Bureau Of Labor Statistics, Accessed 1/23/14)
13.1 Percent Of Americans Are Either Unemployed, Marginally Attached To The Workforce Or Working Part-Time For Economic Reasons. (Bureau Of Labor Statistics, Accessed 1/23/14)
Under Obama, The Labor Force Participation Rate Declined To A 36 Year Low Of 62.8 Percent In December 2013. (Bureau Of Labor Statistics, Accessed 1/23/14)
Under Obama, The Labor Force Participation Rate Declined To A 36 Year Low Of 62.8 Percent In December 2013. (Bureau Of Labor Statistics, Accessed 1/23/14)
  • FLASHBACK: The Labor Force Participation Rate Was 65.7 Percent When Obama Became President. (Bureau Of Labor Statistics, Accessed 1/23/14)
Huffington Post Headline: “Unemployment Is Falling For All The Wrong Reasons” (Mark Gongloff, “Unemployment Is Falling For All The Wrong Reasons,” The Huffington Post, 1/10/14)
528,000 Manufacturing Jobs Have Been Lost Since Obama Became President. (Bureau Of Labor Statistics, Accessed 1/23/14)
721,000 Construction Jobs Have Been Lost Since Obama Became President. (Bureau Of Labor Statistics, Accessed 1/23/14)
Today, 18-34-Year-Olds Account For 46 Percent Of All Unemployed Americans. (Bureau Of Labor Statistics, Accessed 1/23/14)
The Average Weeks Unemployed Has Nearly Doubled Since Obama Became President – From 19.8 Weeks In January 2009 To 37.1 Weeks In December 2013. (Bureau Of Labor Statistics, Accessed 1/23/14)
“Almost 4 Million People Have Been Out Of Work For More Than Six Months, Three Times The Pre-Recession Average.”(David J. Lynch, “Obama Can’t Shake Economy’s Downside Amid Signs Of Growth,” Bloomberg, 1/23/14)
  • “One-Third Of Black Men Aren’t Even In The Labor Force, The Highest Mark Since Records Began In 1972.” (David J. Lynch, “Obama Can’t Shake Economy’s Downside Amid Signs Of Growth,” Bloomberg, 1/23/14)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Democrat Senators Push To Force Hobby Lobby To Go Against Religious Beliefs And Comply With Obamacare in Supreme Court

Democratic senators intervened Tuesday in the Supreme Court fight over whether ObamaCare can force the company Hobby Lobby to provide contraceptive coverage to workers, arguing that "secular" businesses should not be exempt from the mandate.

The 19 senators planned to file a brief before the court, which is still weeks away from considering the closely watched case. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who planned to make her case on the Senate floor, adamantly defended the Obama administration's side.

"What's at stake in this case before the Supreme Court is whether a CEO's personal beliefs can trump a woman's right to access free or low-cost contraception under the Affordable Care Act," she said in prepared remarks.

But Republican senators returned fire, jumping to Hobby Lobby's defense in a brief of their own.
"The ability to practice the faith we choose is one of our great constitutional rights. The Obama administration's contraceptive mandate stomps on that right," Sen. David Vitter said in a statement. He joined Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas; John Cornyn, R-Texas; and Mike Lee, R-Utah in the brief.

The dueling arguments come as the Supreme Court prepares to consider the case. The justices said in November they would take up the issue, which has divided the lower courts in the face of roughly 40 lawsuits from for-profit companies asking to be spared from having to cover some or all forms of contraception.

The Obama administration promotes the law's provision of a range of preventive care, free of charge, as a key benefit of the health care overhaul. Contraception is included in the package of cost-free benefits, which opponents say is an attack on the religious freedom of employers.

The court will consider two cases. One involves Hobby Lobby Inc., an Oklahoma City-based arts and crafts chain with 13,000 full-time employees. Hobby Lobby won in the lower courts.

The other case is an appeal from Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., a Pennsylvania company that employs 950 people in making wood cabinets. Lower courts rejected the company's claims.

The court said the cases will be combined for arguments, probably in late March. A decision should come by late June.

The cases center on the provision of the law that requires most employers that offer health insurance to their workers to provide the range of preventive health benefits. In both instances, the Christian families that own the companies say that insuring some forms of contraception violates their religious beliefs.

The key issue is whether profit-making corporations may assert religious beliefs under the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act or the First Amendment provision guaranteeing Americans the right to believe and worship as they choose.

The brief from Democratic senators on Tuesday argued that exempting for-profit businesses from the mandate would be "inconsistent" with that 1993 law.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Women Be Careful In Australia, Creeping Sharia Law Tells Muslim Men Rape Is OK

Australian Judges say cultural differences are valid reason why men can rape women. 

Bit by bit, Western nations are adopting Muslim legal standards on blasphemy and on the treatment of women.

The excuses are manifold. Racism, cultural differences, Islamophobia, relativism… but it all ends the same way, with Western writers, artists and thinkers being censored and Western women being subject to Taliban treatment.

This is how it began.

An Afghan refugee would drive from his home in Tullamarine to nightclubs in Frankston late at night searching for drunk, vulnerable young woman to prey on, a court was told today.

He would pick them up in his white 1988 Honda Civic and rape them.

The victim was sitting on the footpath behind the 21st Century Dance Club when Esmatullah Sharifi approached her and offered to give her a lift to the Bay Hotel.

She accepted but became anxious and confused when they had been driving for an hour and she saw a road sign saying Sorrento.

Sharifi then pulled over into a dark side street and raped her in the front passenger seat.
“She began to scream and cry out for help,” Ms Dalziel said.

“The accused put his left hand over her mouth and his right hand around her neck, restricting her breathing. He said to her, ‘I’ll take you home after it, I’ll give you back your phone as well’.
In the rapist’s defense, his lawyer argued that he wasn’t at all clear about this whole “Women are human beings” thing.

Mr Regan said Esmatullah Sharifi was uneducated, illiterate, inexperienced in forming relationships with women, and was confused about the nature of consent. He is in Australia on a permanent protected visa.
The judge didn’t buy it then, but the usual lefty approach is to just keep appealing until you find a bleeding heart judge who accepts the horrible notion being put forward. And that didn’t take very long.

Granting leave to appeal, Court of Appeal Justice Robert Redlich said: “The sentencing judge rejected any suggestion (Esmatullah Sharifi) didn’t have a clear concept of consent in sexual relations.”

In April last year, a psychologist told the County Court that Sharifi had “an unclear concept of what constitutes consent in sexual relationships” in Australia.

“It proves, in my view, an adequate basis for most grounds of appeal that (Sharifi) wishes to pursue,” the judge said.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Hollywood Actor Fred Dryer Goes After Establishment Republicans For Treatment Of Tea Party

Fred Dryer
Fred Dryer, the former All-Pro NFL defensive end and Hollywood actor of shows like Hunter and Cheers, is furious at the Republican establishment for waging war against the Tea Party.

He sees the establishment as surrendering to the mainstream media and accepting its stereotypes about conservatives.

Appearing on Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot channel 125 with Breitbart News Executive Chairman and host Stephen K. Bannon, Dryer said it was the "dumbest thing" for the GOP establishment to abandon constitutional principles when the country – and the constitution – is center right.

He blasted GOP establishment honchos like Ed Gillespie for doing nothing but watering down conservative candidates.

"They put them through a series of washings to get all that independent thinking out of there," Dryer said before emphasizing that the "cowardice that is in the Republican Party today is only matched by their myopic opinions of themselves."

Dryer said the Republican Party bosses want to be liked by The New York Times and have bought into and been "intimidated into believing" the notion that, if they oppose liberal policies, they are "racist, sexist, homophobe, those types of things." He said the establishment Republicans have done an excellent job of institutionalizing "complete stupidity" by adopting and abiding by various rules that "only weaken them" in national elections.

More from Brietbart News

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Father Jailed For Overpaying Child Support and Visiting Son

A Texas father will spend half of 2014 behind bars for doing too much for his son. After overpaying child support and seeing his son too often - breaking terms that were secretly modified without his knowledge - a judge sentenced him to a lengthy jail sentence.

 Clifford Hall has been doing his best to give care to his 11-year-old son, who lives with his ex-wife. He pays his child support and visits regularly.

"I'm his father it's my responsibility to take care of him," Hall said. Last November, his child support payments were paid in full.

Sometime between then and now, the child support agreement between Hall and his wife was modified without his knowledge.

 Hall wound up overpaying by $3,000, a fact that Harris County District Court Judge Lisa Millard found contemptible. Another term that was modified without his knowledge was his visitation schedule.

Subsequently, Hall was found to have over-visited his son. Judge Millard ended up finding Hall in contempt of court. When she said I remand you to the Harris County Jail for 180 days my mouth just dropped," Hall told FOX 26 Houston
 In addition to the six month jail sentence, Judge Millard is forcing Hall to pay his ex-wife's attorney fees.

 "I can't be there for my son in jail," Hall said. "I can't pay child support in jail. This is not in the best interest of the child." Hall is correct. Such heavy-handed actions on the part of the court serve no one.

Not only is the child going to be deprived of his father for the next 6 months, but taxpayers will have to pay the father's incarceration, and will potentially be forced to subsidize the mother's living expenses in lieu of the child support payments.

 It just goes to show us that no good deed goes unpunished in Police State USA.

Who needs a Constitution when you can have an Imperial Presidency? Eric Holder declares same sex marriage legal in Utah

As a refresher, the state of Utah was sued by homosexual groups over gay marriage. The District Court Judge who heard the case found for the homosexuals and declared gay marriage legal in Utah. Nothing unusual so far.

Cases like this are presented to the District Court all the time on all sorts of issues. On high profile issues like gay marriage no matter who wins in District Court the case will be appealed to the appropriate appellate court, in this the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. The likelihood is that the decision of the 10th Circuit will be appealed to the Supreme Court by whoever loses.

Here’s the unusual part.

The District Court Judge and then the 10th Circuit declined to issue a stay of the judge’s order pending appeal. The normal procedure on any case where a decision is going to be appealed is for the issuing judge to order a stay. The effect of not issuing a stay in this case is that hundreds of homosexuals in Utah have gotten “married”. If either the 10th Circuit or SCOTUS finds for the state those “marriages” are null and void.

The situation is so outrageous that when the 10th Circuit refused to stay the order the state of Utah went to the Supreme Court and SCOTUS voted 9-0 to stay it. Those conservative justices like Ruth Bader Ginsberg keep meddling in people’s bedroom habits. Shame on them.

Actually, the reason has nothing to do with Justice Ginsberg’s desire to check your bedroom, it has to do with the completely outrageous action by both the District Court Judge and the 10th Circuit.

Here’s an update on the situation.

What we have here is a situation where the Obama administration, who opposed same sex marriage until the President made a quick about-face in time for fund raisers before the last election, through Eric Holder and the Department of Justice is meddling in court procedure.

The whole point of this whole mess, when the judge declined to stay his order, was to make time for as many homosexuals as possible to get married. That, and the accompanying stories in the national news, would exert pressure on the 10th Circuit and SCOTUS to uphold the decision.

SCOTUS, all nine Justices, apparently took great umbrage at that.

The Obama administration, never one to let a crisis go to waste, has now jumped into the fray and declared that “State of Utah be damned, married homosexuals in Utah are ‘married’ as far as the federal government is concerned.”

There hasn’t been an administration in power in Washington for 100 years that paid much respect to the 10th Amendment to the Constitution. The Obama administration, however, has decided that it doesn’t even exist.

Kind of like the 1st, 2nd, and 4th.

Hey, who needs a Constitution when you can have an Imperial Presidency?

Chemical Leak Causes State Of Emergency In West Virginia; 480,000 Possibly Affected

More than 100,000 customers of one water company in West Virginia have been warned not to drink, cook or wash with the water coming from their taps because of chemicals that seeped into the Elk River near Charleston on Thursday.

Water is distributed to residents at the South Charleston
Community Center in Charleston, West Virginia, January 10, 2014. 
The warning covers all or parts of nine counties (listed below). More than 480,000 people live in the affected area — one-quarter of the state's population. Some surely get their water from wells that were not touched by the spill. But as The Charleston Gazette reports, so many people have been affected that "residents swarmed grocery stores, convenience stores and anywhere else with bottled water Thursday evening, and shelves were quickly depleted."

Ashton Marra of West Virginia Public Broadcasting says that the warning "was issued after methylcyclohexene methanol — a chemical used in a coal-washing process — leaked into the local water supply of the capital city of Charleston and surrounding areas."

The chemical came from a storage tank at a site run by Freedom Industries, Ashton says. That company produces specialty chemicals for the coal and steel industries.

According to Ashton, "customers were directed not to consume or even use tap water except for flushing and fire protection. [Officials say] consuming the water could cause severe burning in the throat, vomiting and skin blistering."

. Facility Ordered Shut Down

West Virginia's Department of Environmental Protection has issued a cease-operations order to the company whose facility is responsible for the leak.

"Freedom industries is required to contain and recover the chemical that leaked into the Elk River," reports Beth Vorhees of West Virginia Public Broadcasting. "The company must submit a report that the tanks are reliable prior to resuming operations."

Charleston Mayor Danny Jones says it's a disaster:

"Everything is closing and that means the Marriott Hotel, that means our Town Center Mall. No restaurant is allowed to open because you can't legally open without water."

. Tests Have Been "Inconclusive":

"Officials from West Virginia American Water say they have no estimate for when they might be able to begin flushing out the system and that recent tests of the water have proved to be inconclusive," Dave Mistich of West Virginia Public Broadcasting tells the NPR Newsdesk.

Our original post continues:

Officials of West Virginia American Water, whose customers have been affected, said their treatment facility "which is near the leak site on the Elk River, could handle the leak" and safely treat the water, the Gazette says.

But Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency Thursday — saying that "nobody really knows how dangerous [the leak] could be."

The governor's decision was followed overnight by an announcement that federal officials have also declared a state of emergency in the affected areas. That should speed up federal assistance.

The Gazette adds that:

"Water was being transported into the affected counties, and emergency officials said they planned to set up distribution centers.
"Col. Mike Cadle at the state Air National Guard's 130th Airlift Wing said 51 tractor-trailers loaded with water were headed to West Virginia from a Federal Emergency Management Agency facility in Maryland."
The affected counties:

— Boone

— Clay

— Jackson

— Kanawha

— Lincoln

— Logan

— Putnam

— Roane

Also: the Culloden area of Cabell County.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Did a monster backup amount to political retribution by the N.J. governor?

This may turn into much more than just a political scandal.

On Sept. 9, 2013, access lanes to the George Washington Bridge from New Jersey to New York were suddenly closed. No warning was given — nothing posted days before or announced on the radio
Chris Christie:  Did he demand the lane closures of the George Washington Bridge?

It may have seemed like a teenage prank at the time, but the blockage of bridge traffic as a possible act of partisan political revenge has put New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in the middle of a serious legal stew.
And the fire underneath it is just beginning to heat up for the Republican presidential hopeful, as the state assembly plans to post online 907 pages of documents related to the case Friday.

The New Jersey governor has asserted that he had nothing to do with the totally capricious lane closings. As for his aides who instigated the mayhem, they insisted they were not — as alleged — getting even with the mayor of Fort Lee, the Democrat Mark Sokolich, who had failed to endorse the Republican Christie’s reelection, as some 60 other Democratic officials had prudently done. They said the lane closings — which lasted four days — were imposed to conduct a traffic study that, oddly enough, no one knows anything about and, furthermore, cannot find. It might prove that if you close lanes, traffic will back up.

The bridge is run by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The governors of both states make the necessary appointments. Inside the authority, Christie’s guys were widely viewed as his political operatives. One of them was David Wildstein, the governor’s friend since high school and former mayor of their home town of Livingston, N.J . The governor parked Wildstein at the authority at $150,000 per year and apparently gave him a year’s supply of traffic cones.

Another Christie friend and political ally, Bill Baroni, was also placed at the authority. He is a former state senator and was given a salary of $290,000. In the wake of the lane closings, both he and Wildstein have resigned, apparently hoping to end the matter. But New Jersey Democrats, a creative bunch, have come to call the affair “Bridgegate” and, armed with subpoena power in the legislature, are determined — for strictly good-government reasons — to get to the bottom of this.

But what about the economic effects of the incident?

Economists have been studying the cost of traffic for years, and one of the most definitive looks comes from Texas A&M’s Transportation Institute. Each year, the institute releases its “Urban Mobility Report,” which gauges the economic effects of congestion on the American economy. The group found that the average commuter wastes 38 hours in traffic each year, and that this costs the economy $818 per commuter in wasted time and fuel. That means a wasted hour in traffic costs roughly $22.

A few more data points:
  • ·         According to INRIX, a traffic information and services group, commuters in the New York metropolitan area spend on average 34.5 minutes getting to work each day.
  • ·         The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey says 102 million vehicles per year cross the George Washington Bridge, which comes to 279,000 vehicles per day. Assuming half of those are traveling from New Jersey into New York, that means 139,500 vehicles were caught in Christie’s traffic jam per day. Multiply that by the four days traffic was slowed and you have a total of 558,000 affected vehicles.
  • ·         Anecdotal evidence says that workers spent anywhere from 2 to 4 times as much time commuting to work each day than they did without the lane closures.
  • ·         Therefore we can estimate that commuters spend 320,850 hours going from New Jersey to New York over the bridge during a normal four-day stretch. If we assume the traffic jam doubled that time, the total cost of the jam would be $7 million. If we assume that it quadrupled commuters time on the road it could have cost as much as $21 million!

Obviously this is just a rough, back-of-the envelope estimate of costs, but given that 1) traffic problems in Ft. Lee due to lane closures likely affected more drivers than those crossing the bridge, and 2) the median salary of workers in the New York metropolitan area is 19% higher than the country overall, this calculation could be an underestimate.

Now We See What The Effects of Medicaid Expansion

It turns out that expansion of Medicaid coverage for lo-income Americans increases rather than decreases visits to hospital emergency rooms.

According to a study, increased ER visits as result of expanded Medicaid coverage increased spending by $120 per covered individual!

We now face another huge and costly error in the assumptions that built and brought us Obamacare.

So far, providing “free” government health care through Medicaid has been attracting far more new enrollees than individuals signing up on the exchanges. Estimates show there are almost 2 million new enrollees through the exchanges and about 4 million new enrollees into Medicaid.

The Congressional Budget Office projects the number of enrollees in Medicaid to reach 91 million by 2023. And CBO projects annual growth in expenditures on Medicaid to be 8 percent per year, or more than double the expected growth rate of the American economy.

In order to bribe states to expand their Medicaid programs to cover these individuals, the federal government (translation: us taxpayers) will cover 100 percent of the costs of expansion for three years, and then 90 percent thereafter.

The bottom line is Medicaid is becoming a back door to get an increasingly large percentage of the American population on a single-payer government health care system and an increasingly large percentage of the American population on welfare.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Pa. town latest to force drivers over and ask for cheek swabs for federal study

Drivers in a southeastern Pennsylvania town were forced off a local street and into a parking lot, so a federal contractor – aided by local police --could quiz them about their road habits and ask for a cheek swab, in a replay of an incident last month in Texas.

The checkpoint, in downtown Reading, was one of several conducted by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, which was hired by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Although the questioning and cheek swab were voluntary, local residents said they were directed by police to pull over, and that the questioning was persistent, according to the Reading Eagle.

"I feel this incident is a gross abuse of power on many levels."
- Ricardo Nieves, Reading, Pa.
"I feel this incident is a gross abuse of power on many levels," Reading resident Ricardo Nieves told City Council Monday, three days after being stopped.

Last month, the police chief in Fort Worth, Texas, apologized after allowing his officers to take part in a similar federal survey in which random drivers were pulled over and asked to submit breath, saliva and even blood samples. The drivers were also asked to pull into a parking lot, where they could give a cheek swab and volunteer for a blood or breath test, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Those who agreed were paid $10 to $50. Those who declined were briefly interviewed and allowed to leave.

"We realize this survey caused many of our citizens frustration and we apologize for our participation," Fort Worth Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead said.

Reading Police Chief William Heim told the Reading Eagle the federal agencies are trying to see what can be done about crashes and injuries, and the swabs were not to get DNA samples but to test for the presence of prescription drugs. He said police were there for site security only and did not pull drivers over or ask questions.

"In the grand scheme of things, I think it's a pretty innocuous and minor issue," Heim said.

An attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania said such checkpoints are legal only if designed to protect public safety.

"A car driver or passenger cannot be required or pressured into providing a DNA sample and, in fact, can't be stopped at all except on suspicion of a crime or for a properly conducted sobriety checkpoint," Mary Catherine Roper, senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Pennsylvania, told the Reading Eagle.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducts similar surveys every 10 years or so to determine the prevalence of alcohol and drug use by drivers. Checkpoints to collect samples have been set up in 30 cities nationwide, and samples remain anonymous, according to federal officials.

But law enforcement agencies in other jurisdictions have taken measures to ensure that motorists know it is a "paid volunteer survey," and that they do not have to pull over.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Connecticut citizens must register certain weapons or face felony prosecution

Legal gun owners in Connecticut are now forced under the state's new gun control laws to register their "assault weapons" and ammunition.

Hundreds of Connecticut residents lined up Monday to make sure
 their weapon where registered..
The queue of citizens seeking to register their weapons stretched around the State Department of Public Safety in Middletown on Monday, in a scene that must warm the hearts of gun control advocates everywhere.

Mike Lawlor, the governor's undersecretary for criminal justice said,

"If you get caught with a banned assault weapon after tomorrow night then you're going to be prosecuted as a felon."
Lawlor is not kidding. In New York, were similar laws were passed, CBS News reported this week that "arrest data show more than 1,000 gun possession charges in New York City were boosted from misdemeanors to felonies because of the changes."

Times have changed since the Connecticut state constitution declared,

"Every citizen has a right to bear arms in defense of himself and the state."
The "controversial, wide-ranging" laws passed in April in the wake of the mass killing at Sandy Hook Elementary school. This, in a state where gun control laws were already among the strictest in the country, yet failed to deter Adam Lanza, 20, who clearly was not concerned about laws when he killed twenty children and six adults last year.

Twin Cities reported in the wake of the mass killing that "Connecticut’s laws are strict by comparison to many other states, but they still fall short of what many gun control advocates want."

Lawlor continued to say,

"The goal of the law is to have fewer of these assault weapons in circulation in the years to come..."
The law-abiding residents who are forced to undergo this exercise are not among those committing crimes, as noted by one resident, who said,

"Anybody who's going to bring their assault rifles here to register them aren't criminals...The criminals are the people sitting at home hiding them in their closet right now."

Number of cops killed by gunfire in 2013 dips to 33, lowest since 1887

The number of law enforcement authorities killed by gunfire dipped to 33 in 2013, the lowest total since the Wild West days of 1887, according to a report from a law enforcement advocacy group.

The number of police officers felled by bullets around the nation has been trending downward in recent years, but the 125-year low reported by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund was welcome news for the nation's peacekeepers. Experts also noted that overall line-of-duty deaths of federal, state, local, tribal and territorial officers dropped to 111, the lowest total since 1959.

“The only good news is zero deaths, but this very significant drop in law enforcement fatalities the past two years is extremely encouraging,” said Craig Floyd, chairman and CEO of the fund. “Our organization, in partnership with others, is working hard to create a new culture of safety in law enforcement that no longer accepts deaths and injuries as an unavoidable part of the job. This year’s officer fatality report is strong evidence that this intensified effort to promote law enforcement safety is making a difference.”

Floyd's organization this week put out its annual report chronicling the improved numbers, noting that increased use of body armor could bring shooting deaths of police down even further.

According to the Officer Down Memorial Page — which also tracks police deaths dating back to 1822, but had 2013 numbers that were slightly different from those of the NLEOMF — automobile accidents were the second-biggest killer of police officers, claiming 26 lives, followed by seven deaths due to being struck by a vehicle. One police officer in Detroit died six months after being struck by accidental gunfire.

The annual report from NLEOMF credited an increased culture of safety among law enforcement agencies, including increased use of bulletproof vests, that followed a spike in deaths in 2011. Since that time, officer fatalities across all categories have decreased by 34 percent, and gun deaths have fallen by 54 percent.

Among law enforcement officers killed by gunfire last year, just two were women: Police Officer Patricia Parete of the Buffalo (N.Y.) Police Department, who died on Feb. 2; and Santa Cruz (Calif.) Police Department Det. Elizabeth Butler, who died on Feb. 26 while investigating a sexual assault.

The Officer Down Memorial Page tally also includes four police dogs, including Koda of the Leon County (Florida) Sheriff’s Office, Kilo of the Indiana State Police, Ronin of the Glendale (Arizona) Police Department and Ape, who was fatally shot in March just three weeks after completing his FBI training, according to the website.

The most recent gunfire death among law enforcement officers occurred last week when Sgt. Kevin “Gale” Stauffer, 38, of the Tupelo Police Department was shot on Dec. 23 as he responded to a bank robbery in Mississippi. Stauffer, a nine-year veteran who previously served with the Louisiana Army National Guard, was posthumously promoted to the rank of sergeant and is survived by his wife and two young children.

Conversely, the gunfire-related death of Police Officer Kevin Tonn of the Galt (Calif.) Police Department on Jan. 15 marked the first among law enforcement officers in 2013, according to the website. The 35-year-old U.S. Army veteran was killed as he responded to a burglary in progress.

Among the 105 total line-of-duty deaths tallied by the website last year, 13 occurred in Texas, followed by 10 in California and 7 in Mississippi. Nine were federal law enforcement officers whose deaths occurred in various locations. The overwhelming majority — 101 — were men and their average age was 42. The median tour of duty among the fallen officers exceeded 13 years, according to the website. February was the deadliest month, with 14 fatalities, followed by September (13) and December (12).

In 2012, 47 of the 123 line-of-duty fatalities were classified as death by gunfire, with an additional two accidental fatalities. In 1887, a total of 44 law enforcement officers were killed, 30 of whom succumbed to gunfire. Another two officers were killed by accidental gunfire, according to the website.

States Passing Bills to cripple the implementation of the Affordable Care Act

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.,  Later this month, the Missouri Senate will consider a bill which would effectively cripple the implementation of the Affordable Care Act within the state.

 Following the lead of South Carolina, where lawmakers are fast-tracking House Bill 3101 in 2014, and Georgia, where HB707 was recently introduced by Rep. Jason Spencer, Missouri State Senator John T. Lamping (R-24) pre-filed Senate Bill 546 (SB546) to update the Health Care Freedom Act passed by Missouri voters in 2010. It passed that year with more than 70% support.

 SB546 would ban Missouri from taking any action that would “compel, directly or indirectly, any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in any health care system.” That means the state would be banned by law from operating a health care exchange for the federal government.

13 hospitalized after building explosion in Mnneapolis

MINNEAPOLIS - Authorities say at least 13 people are hospitalized following a building explosion and fire in Minneapolis Wednesday morning.

The reported address of the incident is 514 Cedar Avenue South. Robert Ball of Hennepin County EMS tells NBC Affliate  KARE 11 that 13 people have been injured and rushed to a number of local hospitals. He describes the injuries as ranging from burns to trauma suffered while falling or jumping from windows.

MPR reports that 6 of the victims are currently listed in critical condition.

A check on Google Maps indicates that the main floor of the structure houses a business called the Otanga Grocery, with the upper two floors consisting of apartments.

Firefighters are swarming the scene after the call was elevated to three alarms. Unconfirmed reports say the second and third floors of the structure have collapsed. The frigid weather conditions are making things both challenging and dangerous for crews trying to put down the blaze.

2 Trains derail simoultaneously in North Dakota

Was this a terror attack? A small North Dakota city was being evacuated Monday night after a two-train derailment caused several oil tankers to explode and burn, authorities said.

A small North Dakota city was being evacuated Monday night after a two-train derailment caused several oil tankers to explode and burn, authorities said.

A westbound train carrying grain jumped the tracks just west of Casselton, near Fargo, and crashed into an eastbound train hauling oil, a Burlington Northern Santa Fe spokeswoman said. The cause of the derailment is under investigation.