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Legislatures across country back off COVID pandemic protocols

Legislatures across the nation are gathering for the annual ritual of the legislative session - but unlike recent years when masks and social distancing were common, if not the rule, in many states you’d hardly know we were entering the third year of a pandemic.... Read more»

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United Kingdom/Northern Ireland

A real-life Mrs. Robinson undermines Irish peace

The political crisis in Northern Ireland arising from a dalliance between a 59-year-old woman and a teenager has underlined the fragility of the power-sharing arrangements that were beginning to be taken for granted. The whole edifice of shared government, painstakingly negotiated over years with the help of former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell and the British and Irish governments, could fall apart.... Read more»

As economy toppled, seven Az congressmen paid staff bonuses

While dealing with the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, seven Arizona members of the U.S. House of Representatives granted around $300,000 in total staff bonuses in late 2008. All but one member, Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, rewarded staff with extra pay courtesy of taxpayers. Six members confirmed giving bonuses, and payroll data for the staff of outgoing Republican Rep. Rick Renzi showed increases consistent with bonuses.... Read more»

Where Santa Claus is not welcome

GRAZ, Austria — Austrian traditionalists have stepped up their campaign against the incursion of Santa Claus into the local delivery business in an effort to support their traditional present provider: Christkind.... Read more»

How the Berlin Wall still divides one family

One cold day in November 1973, Sabine Masing climbed into the trunk of a car with her father and sister along a lonely stretch of autobahn in communist East Germany. Her mother had arranged the escape attempt while on a week-long travel permit to West Berlin, where she was now waiting anxiously. ... Read more»

DesertRATS

NASA: Arizona will play key role in next moon mission

As NASA plans for the next U.S. footprints on the moon and eventually its first on Mars, Arizona’s evolution into a center of space research means it will have a role even bigger than just a place to study geology.... Read more»

Border & immigration

ATF border gunrunning program has flaws, says Inspector General

Just a few days after the Justice Dep't patted itself on the back for success in halting gunrunning on the border, a new report shows the program isn't using some of its money wisely.... Read more»

Recovery.gov & Smartronix

Obama Admin. refuses to release whole contract for transparency site

The Obama administration has refused, once and for all, to reveal the full details of its contract with Smartronix for a new version of Recovery.gov, the government’s stimulus information clearinghouse... Read more»

Comic:

World's dumbest extortionist hits on Letterman

After years of pointing out the trials and tribulations of others, David Letterman's got a bit of a problem himself... Read more»

Twitter

Tweet Much? Micro-blog service updates its Terms of Service

New Terms of Service released this week by Twitter.com, make clear what content you own and how they intend to use it. Time to re-review the fine print.... Read more»

Will Obama bring the Olympics home to Chicago?

The Chicago 2016 campaign delivered the news: the city council had backed financial guarantees for the city’s Olympic bid by a vote of 49-0 — as if it was a great victory on the gridiron. The good news was quickly offset by word that President Obama will not make the trip to Copenhagen and the IOC meeting where the 2016 Games will be awarded.... Read more»

Grid computing

Social media darling Digsby learns hard lesson

In the world of social media technology, lessons are delivered swiftly and often learned the hard way. Just ask Digsby, the third-party Instant Messaging application that went from Internet darling to evil tyrant in the blink of a blog posting. Did they "join the dark side" or simply make a risky business decision?... Read more»

9/11

Eight years later, US still unsure in Afghanistan

Eight years. And you watch the flag-draped coffins coming off the cargo planes at Dover Air Force Base and the mangled bodies and blown minds of young American servicemen and women coming home to ragged, ill-equipped VA hospitals, and you can’t help but wonder what the hell have we accomplished in Afghanistan? Why is this land still consuming our blood and treasure all these years after 9/11?... Read more»

Arizona Gold Star Military Medal

New law provides medal to families of Arizona’s fallen service members

The dogtag around Margy Bons’ neck bears a picture of her son, Marine Sgt. Michael Marzano. Her office contains a shrine of sorts to him: a portrait, a service medallion, a folded flag. Under a new law, she is to receive an Arizona Gold Star Military Medal honoring her son’s sacrifice.... Read more»

Health & Fitness

Mexico's growing obesity problem

MEXICO CITY — Pilar Blanco and her family sit down to dinner in what looks like an age-old meal time ceremony. But when she serves up the food, there is one major difference from tradition: instead of tortillas and beans, the family eats instant noodle soups, potato chips and fizzy soda.... Read more»

Should older people have to pay more for health insurance?

Chris Denny, 27, buys his own health insurance for $117 a month. But the same policy, from the same insurer, would cost a 60-year-old man $735 a month, according to an estimate on eHealthInsurance.com, an online marketplace that lists quotes and coverage from a variety of insurers. ... Read more»

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