Monday, January 28, 2013

Answer the following questions to see which political candidates you side on most issues with.

Where do you side on social issues?

What is your stance on abortion?


Should gay marriage be allowed in the U.S.?


Should the federal government allow the death penalty?


Should the government require health insurance companies to provide free birth control?


Where do you side on environmental issues?

Is Global Warming a threat to the environment?


Should we expand our offshore oil drilling?


Should U.S. National Parks and Forests continue to be preserved and protected by the federal government?


Should the federal government continue to give tax credits and subsidies to the wind power industry?


Where do you side on economic issues?

Should the government raise the federal minimum wage?


Should Congress raise the debt ceiling?


Should the U.S. have bailed out the major banks during the financial crisis of 2008?


Do you agree with President Obama's 2009 Stimulus Plan?


Should the federal government subsidize U.S. farmers?


Should we expand or dismantle our Social Security program?


Do you believe the 2001 and 2003 George W Bush tax cuts should be extended?


Should able-bodied, mentally capable adults who receive welfare be required to work?


Where do you side on domestic policy issues?

Do you support increased gun control?


Do you support the Patriot act?


Should the federal government regulate the internet to deter online piracy?


Where do you side on healthcare issues?

Should marijuana be legalized in the U.S.?


Do you support the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)?


Should we expand or dismantle our Medicare program?


Where do you side on foreign policy issues?

Should the government cut military spending?


Should the U.S. end the war in Afghanistan?


Should the U.S. maintain a presence at the United Nations?


Where do you side on immigration issues?

Should children of illegal immigrants be granted citizenship?


Should illegal immigrants be given access to government-subsidized healthcare?


Should illegal immigrants working in the U.S. be granted temporary amnesty?


Where do you side on science issues?

Do you believe the theory of Evolution?


Should the federal government fund stem cell research?


Should the United States increase our space exploration efforts and budget?


Enter your name if you'd like to compare answers with your friends.

Mass. special election to replace Kerry likely June 25; primary April 30

Updated, Monday 1/28 at 3:10 pm ET: Massachusetts officials expect Sen. John Kerry's resignation letter Tuesday after he is confirmed to be secretary of state, as expected.
If he is confirmed and the letter of resignation is received tomorrow, state elections officials will set the date of the special election to replace Kerry as June 25th with a primary on April 30th, said Brian McNiff, spokesman for the Massachusetts Secretary of State Elections Division.
Kerry's resignation is expected to be effective Friday. But state law indicates that the date needs to be set not from the effective date of the resignation, but from the date it is received, McNiff said.
Gov. Deval Patrick (D) said Monday he would appoint a temporary replacement Wednesday.
"If the senate votes tomorrow, and the Senator is confirmed and he submits his resignation tomorrow, then I expect to make the announcement on Wednesday," Patrick said earlier Monday, according to Patrick's office.
Patrick added that he has "pretty much" made a final decision, but didn't indicate who it would be.
"I told you we’re going to have someone that I am convinced will be a wise steward of the interest of the people of the Commonwealth while we wait for the people to elect a senator in a special election," Patrick said. "And I continue to believe that the main event is the special election."
Ex-Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) has publicly expressed interest in becoming the temporary senator, but it's not clear that he is the pick.

Senators hope to approve bipartisan immigration reform within months

A bipartisan group of senators formally unveiled an immigration reform framework that they hope the Senate could pass "in overwhelming and bipartisan fashion" by late spring or early summer.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday on Capitol Hill, five of the eight members of a bipartisan working group announced the contours of their agreement, which would shore up America's borders and provide an eventual path to citizenship for undocumented workers.

A bipartisan group of senators, led by Democrat Chuck Schumer and Republican John McCain, have reached agreement on a framework to overhaul the nation's immigration system.
"We still have a long way to go, but this bipartisan grouping is a major breakthrough," New York Sen. Charles Schumer, a Democratic member of the group of eight, said Monday afternoon.

Schumer, the No. 3 Democrat in the Senate, set an ambitious goal of translating the statement of principles released Sunday evening by the senators into legislation by March. He said the Senate would try to approve the legislation for consideration in the House by the end of spring, or early summer.

The major development involves the pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers that would be established under the Senate plan. Conservatives have resisted similar proposals -- even when they were proposed by President George W. Bush -- and labeled them as "amnesty" for individuals who entered the United States illegally.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said that Americans "have been too content for too long" to allow many undocumented workers to provide basic services "while not affording them any of the benefits that make our country so great."

Alex Wong / Getty Images
Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks during a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill Jan. 23, 2013.
"It is not beneficial to this country to have these people here, hidden in the shadows," added McCain, whose own experience on the iss
ue of immigration provides an instructive example of why immigration reform has been so elusive for Congress.

McCain had long been one of the most vocal advocates of a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers, but tempered his opinions in recent years amid conservative scrutiny. As he was fighting off a conservative primary challenger in 2010, McCain appeared in a television ad saying it was time to "build the danged fence" -- a reference to the proposed fence along the U.S.-Mexico border, which is favored by a number of Republicans.

The senators' announcement on Monday comes a day before President Barack Obama was set to make a major policy address on Tuesday in Nevada on the topic of immigration. While Obama had not been expected to outline any formal legislation during his remarks, lawmakers from both parties will carefully parse the president's words for their impact on the immigration debate. Schumer said that he had spoken to the president about the Senate framework, and that the president was "delighted" by it.

Obama himself had vowed to achieve comprehensive immigration reform during his first term, but his efforts were stymied. That failure invited a degree of consternation from the Latino community during last year's presidential campaign, even though Obama had taken executive action to halt the deportation of individuals who were illegally brought to the United States as children.

(That order, made by Obama last summer, sought to effectively enact much of the DREAM Act, a piece of legislation that failed in the Senate as recently as 2010, when some Republicans who'd previously supported the law flipped, and voted against it.)

Indeed, the success of this push in the Senate may well hinge on Republicans' willingness to go along with a plan that gives undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship. Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, an influential House Republican, already labeled the Senate framework as "amnesty" in a statement on Monday.

House GOP leaders were otherwise mum on Monday toward the Senate proposal, though top Republicans have previously expressed a preference for tackling immigration in a piecemeal manner.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a member of the eight-member group and a favorite of conservatives, has worked to gather conservative support for the proposal. He said at Monday's press conference that while no one is happy about the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the United States illegally, "We have an obligation and need to address the reality that we face."

The other factor weighing upon Republicans involves their poor performance among Hispanic voters -- a bloc that is growing in importance in a variety of key battleground states -- during last fall's election.

"The Republican Party is losing support of our Hispanic citizens," McCain said Monday in a nod toward a variable that could convince more GOP lawmakers to support this bipartisan proposal. But, McCain noted, "We're not going to get everybody onboard."

In the meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., pledged to "do everything in [his] power as the majority leader to get a bill across the finish line."

"Nothing short of bipartisan success is acceptable to me," he said in remarks on the Senate floor preceding the group of eight's press conference.

Image: Fire-fighters try outside the Kiss nightclub in Santa Maria, Brazil, on Jan. 27.

From joy to tragedy: Inside the Brazil nightclub where 233 died

Yuri Weber/ Agencia O Dia via Reuters
An interior view of the Kiss nightclub in Santa Maria, Brazil, after it was destroyed by a fire on Jan. 27.

Shoes, bottles and slices of lime lay scattered around the blackened remains of a dancefloor in Brazil on Monday – signs of how quickly a Saturday night student party turned into one of the world’s worst nightclub fires.
End-of-summer celebrations were in full swing at the Kiss club in the university town of Santa Maria when a band’s pyrotechnic display set fire to the sound-proofed ceiling and started a fire that choked dozens to death and saw dozens more trampled in the ensuing panic.
Image: Cladimir Callegari cries during his daughter's funeral.
The image of the burned, empty building was in stark contrast to the town’s packed gymnasium where relatives of the victims gathered late on Sunday to mourn after the mortuary became overwhelmed with bodies.
One woman fell to her knees in grief at the coffin of a relative, while others waited to identify their loved ones.
In total, at least 233 died - 120 men and 113 women - while 92 people are still being treated in hospitals, Reuters reported.
About 50 funerals were expected to take place at the municipal cemetery in Santa Maria on Monday, according to Brazilian television news broadcast Zero Hora.
The cemetery opened early, at 7:30 a.m. local time (4:30 a.m. ET), and was planning to conduct burials at half-hour intervals, O Globo reported, saying the army had helped dig graves.
A Brazilian nightclub owner and two members of a band have been arrested by civil police investigating the blaze, newspaper Diario de Santa Maria reported Monday. A fourth person is also being sought, the newspaper said.
It said businessman Elissandro Spohr, also known as ‘Kiko’ – one of the owners of the Kiss nightclub in the city of Santa Maria – was detained “on a temporary basis.”
Marcelo Arigony, a police inspector, said the arrests were "provisional" and that there was not yet ant criminal accusation. He declined to confirm the identities of those arrested, saying the investigation "is still quite precarious."
Sphor's lawyer, Jader Marques, told the Diario de Santa Maria that his client was present in the club with his pregnant wife at the moment that a spark from the pyrotechnic flare or fuse handled by the band lit the soundproofing on the ceiling.

One of the worst nightclub fires in history has claimed a terrible toll in the southern Brazil city of Santa Maria, with at least 233 dead by the most recent count. Authorities and witnesses are saying the fire may have been sparked by a pyrotechnics show. NBC's Mike Taibbi reports.

The main door of the nightclub was locked at the time, fire chief Guido Pedroso de Melo told O Globo.
He added that firefighters responding to the blaze initially had trouble getting inside the nightclub because "there was a barrier of bodies blocking the entrance.”
Survivors and the police inspector Marcelo Arigony said security guards briefly tried to block people from exiting the club, according to the AP, perhaps fearing that patrons would leave without paying their tab.
But Arigony said the guards didn't appear to block fleeing patrons for long. "It was chaotic and it doesn't seem to have been done in bad faith because several security guards also died," he told the AP.
In a radio interview, the band’s guitarist Rodrigo Martins said the fire began shortly after the band took to the stage at 2.15 a.m. local time Sunday.
"When the fire started, a guard passed us a fire extinguisher, the singer tried to use it but it wasn't working," he said, adding that the accordion player Danilo Jacques, 28, died, while the five other members made it out safely.

Image: The funeral for two brothers, Pedro and Marcelo Salla.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.


I found this after I posted the entire piece. So this is for those who want to read the congressional transcript.

Boy Scouts close to ending ban on gay members, leaders

 About time! To me it should be the parents decision, as in one video the parents did not care, she was a good leader and cared about the boys. Her sexual habits did not enter the picture, I am very happy to hear that the elite board members are changing their views.

NBC's Pete Williams reports on the major policy shift being considered by the Boy Scouts of America.

The Boy Scouts of America, one of the nation’s largest private youth organizations, is actively considering an end to its decades-long policy of banning gay scouts or scout leaders, according to scouting officials and outsiders familiar with internal discussions.

If adopted by the organization’s board of directors, it would represent a profound change on an issue that has been highly controversial -- one that even went to the US Supreme Court. The new policy, now under discussion, would eliminate the ban from the national organization’s rules, leaving local sponsoring organizations free to decide for themselves whether to admit gay scouts.

“The chartered organizations that oversee and deliver scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with their organization’s mission, principles or religious beliefs,” according to Deron Smith, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts’ national organization.

Individual sponsors and parents “would be able to choose a local unit which best meets the needs of their families,” Smith said.

The discussion of a potential change in policy is nearing its final stages, according to outside scouting supporters. If approved, the change could be announced as early as next week, after the BSA's national board holds a regularly scheduled meeting.

Only seven months ago, the Boy Scouts affirmed a policy of banning gay members, after a nearly two-year examination of the issue by a committee of volunteers convened by national leaders of the Boy Scouts of America, known as the BSA.

In a statement last July affirming the ban, its national executive board called it “the best policy for the organization.”

But since then, a scouting official said, local chapters have been urging a reconsideration. "We're a grassroots organization. This is a response to what's happening at the local level," the official said.

Two corporate CEOs on BSA’s national board, Randall Stephenson of AT&T and James Turley of Ernst & Young, have also said they would work to end the ban. Stephenson is next in line to be the BSA’s national chairman.

During the 2012 presidential campaign, both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney said the BSA should admit gay scouts and scout leaders.

Jennifer Tyrrell, who was ousted as a den mother for her son's Cub Scout troop because of her sexual orientation, is fighting back. Tyrrell talks to msnbc's Thomas Roberts about her petition to change the Boy Scouts of America's long-standing policy on banning gays and lesbians.
About 50 local United Way groups and several corporations and charities have concluded that the ban violates their non-discrimination requirements and have ceased providing financial aid to the Boy Scouts. An official of The Human Rights Campaign, an advocate for gay rights, said HRC planned to downgrade its non-discrimination ratings for corporations that continue to give the BSA financial support.

“It’s an extremely complex issue,” said one Boy Scouts of America official, who explained that other organizations have threatened to withdraw their financial support if the BSA drops the ban.

While the national scouting organization sets broad policies, more than 290 local councils nationwide govern the day-to-day conduct of the more than 116,000 local organizations. Individual scouting troops are sponsored by religious and civic organizations that represent a diversity of views on the issue of allowing gay scouts and leaders.

“The beliefs of the sponsoring organizations are highly diverse,” the official said.

The policy change now under discussion “would allow the religious, civic or educational organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting to determine how to address this issue,” said the BSA's Smith.

“The Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members or parents. Under this proposed policy, the BSA would not require any chartered organization to act in ways inconsistent with that organization’s mission, principles or religious beliefs,” he said.

In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court concluded that the Boy Scouts had a First Amendment right of free expression when it came to the organization’s belief that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with values stated in the scout oath, requiring scouts to be “morally straight.”

The Scouts have won similar legal battles, with courts finding that the BSA’s right of free association permits it, as a private organization, to reject those it believes do not conform to is values.

Eagle Scouts return badges to protest policy banning gays 
Gay mom upset after dismissal by Boy Scouts 

Police: Brazil nightclub fire kills at least 233

A fire broke out early Sunday morning at a night club in Santa Maria, in southern Brazil, killing revelers — many of them students. NBC's Mike Taibbi reports.

Updated at 1:23 a.m. ET: At least 233 people were killed after a band’s fireworks show sparked a rapidly moving fire in a packed nightclub in southern Brazil and fleeing patrons were unable to find their way out, local police said.

The bodies removed from the Kiss nightclub in the southern city of Santa Maria were taken to the Municipal Sports Center gymnasium for identification, police said.
Major Gerson da Rosa Ferreira, who led rescue efforts at the scene for the military police, told Reuters that the victims died of asphyxiation or from being trampled.

Police Maj. Cleberson Braida Bastianello told the Associated Press by telephone that the toll had risen to 233 with the death of a hospitalized victim.

Officials earlier counted 232 bodies that had been brought to the gymnasium in Santa Maria.

In addition to the number of deaths, more  than 100 people were injured, police said, and most remain hospitalized. Police officials had reported earlier in the day that 245 people were killed. The death toll could still rise, police said later, from the people who are injured.

Fire brigade colonel Guido Pedroso de Melo told O Globo newspaper that rescuers had difficulty entering the premises because of "a barrier of bodies" at  the entrance to the club.

Television footage monitored by Reuters overnight showed people crying outside the club as shirtless firefighters used sledge hammers and axes to knock down an exterior wall to open up an exit.

Agencia RBS via AP
People help a man injured in a nightclub fire in Santa Maria city, Brazil, on Sunday.

Rodrigo Moura, who the newspaper Diario de Santa Maria identified as a security guard at the club, said it was at its capacity of between 1,000 and 2,000 people and patrons were pushing and shoving to escape, the AP reported.

Police estimated the crowd at some 900 revelers.
Fire officials said at least one exit was locked and that club bouncers, who at first thought those fleeing were trying to skip out on bar tabs, initially blocked patrons from leaving, Reuters reported.

The club's management said in a statement it would help authorities with their investigation, Reuters reported.

One of the club's owners has surrendered to police for questioning, GloboNews TV reported.

"It was really fast. There was a lot of smoke, really dark smoke," survivor Aline Santos Silva, 29, told Globonews TV. "We were only able to get out quickly because we were in a VIP area close to the door."

President Dilma Rousseff cut short a visit to Chile and visited families of the victims at the Municipal Sports Center, where relatives were gathering to identify the bodies. She met with relatives of the injured at Hospital de Caridade de Santa Maria.

Rousseff declared a national three-day mourning period for victims of the fire.

“Sad Sunday!” Tarso Genro, the governor of Rio Grande do Sul state where the club is located, tweeted. “We are taking all of the possible and appropriate actions,” the tweet read, according to a rough translation by NBC News. “I will be in Santa Maria later this morning.”

The precise cause of the fire was still under investigation, authorities said. But Luiza Sousa, a civil police official in Santa Maria, told Reuters that the blaze started when someone with the band ignited what was described as a flare, which then set fire to the ceiling. The fire spread "in seconds," Sousa said.

The tragedy in Brazil recalled other nightclub disaster. A fire in West Warwick, Rhode Island, in 2003 killed 100 people after pyrotechnics used on stage by the rock band Great White set ablaze foam used for soundproofing on the walls. A Buenos Aires nightclub blaze in 2004 killed nearly 200 people.

Reuters noted that Brazil's safety standards and emergency response capabilities are under particular scrutiny as the country prepares to host the 2014 World Cup soccer tournament and the 2016 Summer Olympics.
The Brazilian state’s Health secretary, Ciro Simoni, told the news service that emergency medical supplies from all over the state were being sent to the scene.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Jump to discussion page: 1 2 3 ... 14

Santa Maria is in the State of Rio Grande do Sul, the last Brazilian state to the South. I'm an American living in this region and unfortunately, little emphasis is put on safety in this country as a whole. Health codes, building codes, driving rules are either non-existent or not adhered to. Officials can easily be paid off and the result is tragedy. We have our share fair of accidents and tragedies in the U.S. but here it's negligence and thoughtlessness. It's a very sad day for so many lost lives and for the families and friends of the lost. The 3rd world will remain 3rd world until the mentality and corruption changes. Codes, laws and rules have to be in place to prevent these things.
  • 67 votes
#1 - Sun Jan 27, 2013 7:12 AM EST

Unfortunately, I'm reminded of the Great White tragedy that happened here in the states a few years ago. So many lives lost, for no reason other than ignorance. I hate to say it, but 3rd world has little to do with it, though I understand your frustration. It's simple, human, arrogance. That's a global issue Think.
  • 54 votes
#1.1 - Sun Jan 27, 2013 7:49 AM EST

Santa Maria as a college city should be less corrupt. Is that just innocent of me?
  • 5 votes
#1.2 - Sun Jan 27, 2013 8:04 AM EST

The real problem is that fire inspectors are paid off by clubs and that the clubs themselves do not have trained staff that would inform bands that NO fires or pyrotechnics on stage. If the band tries to engage in anything that would start a fire, the plug would be pulled.
It doesn't happen though...clubs let bands play and do what they want and fire officials don't do inspections as long as they are paid off.
  • 16 votes
#1.3 - Sun Jan 27, 2013 8:20 AM EST
Que pena.
  • 2 votes
#1.4 - Sun Jan 27, 2013 8:38 AM EST