US Congress members: A look at perks and pay

Lawmakers Opens a New Window. this week decided to put an initiative to raise their pay on hold – amidst opposition in both parties Opens a New Window. – but they still enjoy six-figure pay and a host of other perks and benefits. The measure would have raised their salaries by $4,500. Lawmakers have not been given a pay raise since 2009. New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez supports the measure, as she says it would prevent some lawmakers from wanting to keep “dark money loopholes open.” She also said everyone should get cost of living increases to account for changes in the U.S. economy. The current salary for most lawmakers is $174,000. It would be closer to $210,900 had Congress received pay raises annually since 2009, according to data from the Congressional Research Service. Some lawmakers, however, receive more. Click here to see who does, and what other perks and benefits members of Congress receive.

..courtesy of our tax dollars.

Supreme Court rejects atheists’ attempt to scrub ‘In God We Trust’ off US currency

Show me the motto. The Supreme Court rejected an atheist case Monday to remove “In God We Trust,” the national motto, from all coins and currency from the Department of Treasury. Michael Newdow, the same activist attorney who tried to remove “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance, lost his case, arguing Congress’ mandate to inscribe “In God We Trust” on currency was a government endorsement of religion and a violation of the First Amendment. Newdow argued in his petition to the Supreme Court that because his clients are all atheist individuals or atheist groups, the government violated their “sincere religious belief” that there is no God and turned them into “political outsiders” by placing the phrase “In God We Trust” on their money. The justices rejected his petition without comment. The phrase was first put on an American coin in 1864, due to “increased religious sentiment.” It was added to both coins and paper bills in 1955. Newdow also tried to silence prayer and any religious references at the inaugurations of President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama.

Yes!!!  Sorry Michael.  Motion DENIED!   What a loser..  Kudos to the Supremes for this common sense decision they made without even needing to comment.   🙂

Senate confirms two Trump judicial nominees

The U.S. Senate has voted to confirm two men as the newest federal judges in Florida. Florida’s senators announced the confirmations Wednesday of Rodney Smith to serve on the bench in South Florida and Thomas Barber for a seat in the state’s middle district. Smith is a former Miami-Dade assistant county attorney, prosecutor and county judge who has served since 2012 as a circuit judge. Barber was a prosecutor and county judge in Tampa and has been a circuit judge there since 2008. The Senate has now confirmed five of President Donald Trump’s nominees for lifetime positions the federal bench in Florida.

Great news!!  Glad to see the Senate actually doing its job.  But, they need to pick up the pace.  There are literally hundreds of nominees waiting for their turn at a vote in the Senate.  Our congrats to Judges Rodney Smith and Thomas Barber!  Excellent!!   🙂

Mysterious light flashes on the Moon have been baffling researchers for decades

Astronomers have been excited by the Moon for eons, a level that has grown considerably as technological advancements gave humanity access to its surface, and helped researchers make observations from afar. And though there have been several notable lunar-related discoveries since man first walked on the Moon in 1969, there is still one phenomenon that has perplexed researchers for decades. Mysterious, random flashes of light coming from the Moon’s surface. Known as “transient lunar phenomena,” these mysterious, bizarre flashes of light can occur randomly, sometimes several times a week. Often times, they last for just a few minutes but have also been known to last for hours. There have been a number of explanations over the years, from meteors to moonquakes to UFOs, but none have ever been proven. A new telescope in Spain, though, may provide the answer. The lunar telescope, built by Hakan Kayal’s team at Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg (JMU) in Bavaria, Germany, will be pointed at the lunar surface for 24 hours a day and take videos and pictures if both of its cameras register a luminous phenomenon. “The so-called transient lunar phenomena have been known since the 1950s, but they have not been sufficiently systematically and long-term observed,” said Kayal, a professor of space technology at the university, in a statement. Observations of the transient lunar phenomena go back even further, to 1787, according to CNET. The news outlet also noted that Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins told NASA in 1969 about the strange occurrence. “There is an area that is considerably more illuminated than the surrounding area,” Collins told NASA mission control on July 15, 1969, one day prior to the landing on the Moon. “It just has — seems to have a slight amount of fluorescence to it. A crater can be seen, and the area around the crater is quite bright.” The telescope will be in a private observatory in Spain, which Kayal said was chosen over Germany because it offers “simply better weather conditions for observing the Moon.” Kayal also said observations from the remote-controlled telescope will be compared with those from the European Space Agency. “If the same thing was seen there, the event can be considered confirmed,” he added. The astronomer also said that interest in the bizarre lunar flashes is high due to renewed interest in the Moon, thanks to a new “space race” from private companies such as SpaceX and Blue Origin, as well as advancements from domestic and foreign governments, including China. “Anyone who wants to build a lunar base at some point must of course be familiar with the local conditions,” Kayal said in the release. In January, China landed its Chang’e 4 lunar explorer on the far side of the Moon, becoming the first country to ever land on the side facing away from Earth. More recently, Blue Origin, led by Jeff Bezos, announced plans to send its Blue Moon lander to the celestial satellite. “It’s time to go back to the Moon,” Bezos said in a press conference last month. “This time to stay.”

Fascinating!!   🙂

Kroger recalls steaks, beef over possible E. coli contamination

Meat lovers were notified of another recall affecting rib-eye steaks and ground beef products over possible E. coli contamination. Consumers in the greater Cincinnati area who purchased Kroger bone-in rib-eye steaks, boneless ribeye steaks and in-store produced ground beef are encouraged to check the label before eating the product. All affected meat was produced between April 23 and June 7, but the company is concerned that consumers may have stored affected products in the freezer. Kroger said it has not received any reports of adverse reactions related to the recall. E. coli infections vary from patient to patient, but it often produces severe stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. Some patients may develop a fever, but most symptoms are resolved within five to seven days, although others may be sickened for up to 10. About five to 10 percent of cases result in a potentially life-threatening condition called hemolytic uremic syndrome, which requires hospitalization for kidney issues. On Friday, Kroger issued a recall of some of its frozen berries over a possible Hepatitis A contamination. The items included Kroger’s Private Selection Frozen Triple Berry Medley (16 oz) and Private Selection Frozen Triple Berry Medley (48 oz). The Private Selection Frozen Blackberries (16 oz) were also subject to the recall.

 

Jason Chaffetz: Congress doubles down on incentivizing illegal immigration

Responding to rewards that incentivize illegal immigration, migrants have flowed into the United States at record rates. In each of the last three months, more than 100,000 migrants have been detained for illegally crossing our borders. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) told senators this week that many are renting babies to cross the border. Of the 144,000 apprehended by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) during the month of May, 11,507 were unaccompanied minors. And these were just the ones that were caught. Congress is upset about tariffs but where is the outrage about human trafficking? These are more than statistics, they are children, but Congress seems unmoved. DHS estimates that just since September 2018, 1 percent of the entire populations of Honduras and Guatemala have migrated, many dragging vulnerable women and children with them. Rather than working to solve the problem as President Trump has been trying to do, Congress continues to ignore and incentivize more illegal immigration. Congressional Democrats’ latest solution, found in the House Appropriations draft funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security, creates new incentives that only exacerbate the problem. The bill calls for: “. . .Policy documents that define categories of vulnerable individuals who should not be so returned, including: (A) pregnant women; (B) individuals identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender; and (C) mentally or physically disabled individuals.” So in addition to incentivizing migrants to bring children (not necessarily their own) on the dangerous trek, now Democrats also want to reward migrants to bring with them pregnant women or physically disabled people, not to mention the mentally disabled who are more likely to end up becoming part of our massive homeless population. And there’s that special carve out for anyone who claims to be LGBT. How exactly does the government document those claims? For those willing to lie about whose child they just dragged across the desert, no doubt lying about their sexual orientation or mental health status will be far less trouble. These are not serious solutions. They make the problem worse. With border apprehensions up 99 percent over the same time last year, more and more vulnerable people are at risk. It’s time to get rid of the rewards and incentives, not offer more. I respect that many are not fans of using tariffs as trade policy. In this case, tariffs provide the leverage Congress refuses to wield in this critical national security battle. Mexico must be part of the solution, but thus far they too have lacked the political will to deter this human trafficking. There should be a consequence and tariffs certainly get Mexico’s attention. Every Republican House and Senate member should back the president on this issue. Democrats leave us no choice but to wield tariffs, not as trade policy, but as leverage for national security and humanitarian purposes. Anyone who fails to do so, after failing to make the legislative changes necessary to prevent this tragedy, is complicit in the crimes and exploitation our policies incentivize. Voters understand this problem. They want solutions. And they won’t forget who took the problem seriously and offered solutions rather than incentives.

Let’s hope, Jason.  This op/ed by former Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) is a little dated, but illuminating.  As we all know, President Trump DID threaten Mexico with tariffs if they didn’t start addressing the illegal immigration from their side of the border.  And, it seems that such threats may be working.  We’ll, of course, keep an eye on it.   Jason Chaffetz was the chairman of the U.S. House Oversight Committee when he served as a representative from Utah. He is the author of “The Deep State: How an Army of Bureaucrats Protected Barack Obama and is Working to Destroy the Trump Agenda.”

10 Plants That Are Toxic for Your Pet

Plants add color, texture and beauty to your home and yard, but some are toxic for your pets, so watch out for these varieties. If you suspect your cat or dog may have ingested a potentially toxic substance, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. You may like to keep an aloe vera plant around to treat sunburns, but the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) says aloe vera can cause vomiting, lethargy and diarrhea in both cats and dogs. According to Rover.com, “Topical use of the gel found inside the leaves is no problem, but there are other proponents of the plant that can irritate the digestive system if ingested.” Click here to see 11 household items that are seriously hazardous to pets.