News August 3

Senator Sanders

Cyber Security A cyber security bill that had been one of the Obama administration's top national security priorities was blocked by a Republican filibuster in the Senate on Thursday. Sen. Bernard Sanders said he supports efforts to strengthen defenses against cyber attacks, but he told the Rutland Herald and Times Argus that security must be balanced with protecting privacy and civil liberties. LINK

Irene Vermont's congressional delegation has gotten involved in the state's dispute with the Federal Emergency Management Agency over rebuilding the state office complex in Waterbury. Sen. Sanders told Vermont Public Radio the delegation met with the head of FEMA to discuss Waterbury and several other funding issues. LINK, AUDIO

Road Grants The 28-mile Shires of Vermont Byway received a grant to improve signs from Pownal to Manchester. Nine projects, including some covered bridge work, received funding as part of the $3.1 million announced for Vermont on Thursday. Sens. Patrick Leahy and Sanders and Rep. Peter Welch said the funding will help boost Vermont's local economies, the Bennington Banner reported. LINK

Global Warming Sanders called the Sen. James Inhofe "dead wrong" on global warming, the Tulsa World reported. Despite testimony from scientists at a Senate environment committee hearing that the evidence of man-made global warming is overwhelming, Inhofe maintained that it is a hoax. LINK, LINK

Global Warming Sanders says Inhofe is "just dead wrong" on this issue. He also said strong action to cut emissions would generate substantial energy savings, create good-paying jobs and help the economy grow. The cost of doing nothing, he added, is already mounting, according to a Brattleboro Reformer editorial. LINK

Food Labels Sens. Sanders and Barbara Boxer want to let states require labels on foods that contain genetically modified ingredients, according to LINK

Guns With the debate over gun control simmering in the wake of the shooting in Aurora, Colo., the members of Vermont's congressional delegation reiterated their beliefs that individual states should maintain their ability to shape their own firearm laws. "In my view, decisions about gun control should be made as close to home as possible," Sen. Sanders told the Addison County Independent. LINK

The Waltons Sen. Sanders tweeted that six members of the Walton family, which owns Wal-Mart, own more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of Americans, Angelo Lynn noted in an Addison County Independent editorial. "The wage gap in this country is at a dangerously high level," the editorial concluded. LINK

Who is Bernie Sanders? "On Dec. 10, 2010, he conducted a one-man, nine-hour filibuster on the Senate floor to protest a tax bill," was the answer, worth $2,000, on a "Jeopardy" rerun that aired on WAIT-TV (CBS) in Birmingham, Ala., and nationwide on Thursday. "You know your Sanderses," host Alex Trebek told the winning contestant. VIDEO


Unemployment Employers added 163,000 jobs in July, the most since February, but it was not enough for the 12.8 million Americans who are unemployed. The Labor Department said the July unemployment rate rose to 8.3 percent from 8.2 percent in June, The Associated Press reported. The real unemployment rate rose to 15 percent when those who gave up hunting for work or settled for part-time jobs are counted. LINK

Drought Worsens The historic drought of 2012 is intensifying in the most parched areas of the American heartland, roasting much of the corn and soybean crop, scorching the grasslands and pastures essential for cattle grazing, and threatening to send food prices surging in the United States and abroad... House lawmakers scrambled Thursday to pass a $383 million drought-assistance bill that would give relief to ranchers and other livestock producers. The vote was 223 to 197, The Washington Post reported. LINK

Super PACs A mere 47 people account for more than half of the $230 million raised by super PACs from individual donors, according to a study by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group,  One notorious donor, Sheldon Adleson (along with his children) is believed to have donated more than $36 million. It would take 321,000 middle-class families donating the same share of their income (.15 percent) to match the Adlesons funds, The Washington Post reported. LINK

Special Interests Protect Tax Breaks As the Senate Finance Committee tried to pare a list of 75 special-interest tax breaks, the special interests repeatedly won. An accelerated write-off for owners of NASCAR tracks stayed. So did an economic development credit for a StarKist tuna cannery and a rum-tax rebate worth millions of dollars a year to one of the world's largest distillers. When the dust settled, the committee agreed to jettison only 20 tax breaks, including a $5,000 credit for first-time home buyers in the District of Columbia and an incentive program for wind-energy projects, The Washington Post reported. LINK


Guard Commander Brigadier Gen. Thomas Drew takes command of the Vermont National Guard today at the Green Mountain Armory in Colchester. Drew, who lives in Rutland County, takes over as state adjutant general from Major Gen. Michael Dubie, who is moving to Colorado to take the No. 2 post in the command unit responsible for overall homeland defense, AP reported. LINK

District Energy Montpelier snagged $248,556 in federal grant money for its district energy project. The money is part of nearly $4 million the U.S. Forest Service has awarded from the 2012 Woody Biomass Utilization Grant program. It will help lower the connection cost for building owners who agree to plug into the thermal energy system for heat and hot water, the Times Argus reported.

Cruiser Crusher A Vermont man, who authorities say was angry over an arrest on marijuana possession charges, is accused of using his tractor to drive over seven police vehicles. He was taken into custody in Newport on Thursday, shortly after he allegedly crushed the Orleans County sheriff's vehicles. Estimated damage was at least $250,000, AP reported. LINK

School Bullies The state Department of Education is requiring schools to develop bullying policies starting in 2013, the Rutland Herald reported. The goal is to "review and coordinate school and statewide activities relating to the prevention of and response to harassment, hazing and bullying." LINK