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The next season of “The Amazing Race” would feature all-star teams who have competed in the previous seasons. Some of the teams have been revealed during the season 17 finale.

They are reality show couple “Boston Rob” Mariano and Amber Brkich; Brook and Claire from season 17; cowboy brothers Jet and Cord from season 16; season 15′s father/son duo Gary and Matt Tomljenovich; and goth team Kynt and Vixsin.

I LOVE the ‘Cowboys’ !

It couldn’t have been too sad for a half dozen of the losing teams who fell short in Sunday’s 17th season of “The Amazing Race” – six of them will continue to circle the globe, returning next season for a special 18th season subtitled “Unfinished Business,” in which teams that were favorites with audiences but lost were invited back to run again.

Among those from the just-concluded season 17, according to a preview shown Sunday at its conclusion, were father and daughter team Gary and Mallory, tattooed near-quitters Nick and Vicki, battling but newly engaged couple Chad and Stephanie, father and son Michael and Kevin and Ivy League harmonizers Connor and Jonathan.

~YAY! Nick & Vicky!!! Gary and Mallory! Michael and Kevin! Brook and Claire ~JP

They will join other teams depicted in the ad from five of the most recent seasons, dating back only to 2007:

From season 16 will be Jet and Cord, the cowboy brothers who came in second, as well as Brent and Caite, the pair of models (one half of which is the former Miss Teen South Carolina USA) and the Rhode Island detectives Louie and Michael.

From season 15, it’s Harlem Globetrotters Flight Time and Big Easy, professional poker players Maria and Tiffany, and Zev and Justin, otherwise known as the Asperger’s guy and his friend.

~ Yay Louie & Michael!

The sultry former NFL Cheerleaders Jaime & Cara, who came in second in season 14, will be joined by five other teams they raced with: Mel and Mike White, the father and “School of Rock” director son; the brother stuntmen Mark and Michael; Margie and Luke, the mother and deaf son; dating couple Amanda and Kris; athletic sisters Kisha and Jen.

From season 12 comes Ronald and Christina, the father-daughter team that came in second, and colorful Goths Kynt and Vyxsin.

From season 13, mother and son Toni and Dallas, whose race ended when they lost their passport and money.

source

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Congratulations to my # 1 Team & the FIRST female team to win! Not only that BUT females also took # 2!…

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From Mark via Facebook

Today Federal District Judge Henry Hudson ruled against the Obama Administration on three essential points involving Obamacare:


1. Individuals who do not actively participate in commerce — that is, who do not voluntarily purchase health insurance — cannot be said to be participating in commerce under the United States Constitution’s Commerce Clause, and there is no Supreme Court precedent providing otherwise;

2. The Necessary and Proper Clause of the Constitution cannot be used as a backdoor means to enforce a statute that is not otherwise constitutional under Congress’s enumerated powers;

and 3. There is a difference between a tax and a penalty, there is much Supreme Court precedent in this regard, and the penalty provision in Obamacare is not a tax but a penalty and, therefore, is unconstitutional for it is applied to individuals who choose not to purchase health care.

Judge Hudson’s ruling against the Obama Administration and for the Commonwealth of Virginia gives hope that the rule of law and the Constitution itself still having meaning. Landmark Legal Foundation has filed several amicus briefs in this case, at the request of the Commonwealth, and will continue to provide support in the likely event the Commonwealth is required to defend this decision in the Fourth Circuit and U.S. Supreme Court. Landmark would also like to congratulate Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and the excellent lawyers in his office for their superb legal skills.


Landmark President Mark R. Levin declared: “It is a great day for the rule of law and the citizenry. Judge Hudson’s ruling is ironclad, and General Cuccinelli deserves an enormous amount of credit for taking on this mater. We look forward to continuing to work with him.”

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Dec 132010
 
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Numbers Update:

IF WE LOSE THIS ONE, 10 YEARS OF BEATING EVERY AMNESTY WILL BE NULLIFIED

PHONE THESE UNDECLARED SENATORS WHO COULD KILL AMNESTY ONCE AND FOR ALL

If you can move at least two of these Senators into NO votes, I don’t think there would be any chance of the amnesty passing.

The staffers of a couple of these have been telling our members that their Senator plans to vote NO. But the fact that those Senators have not publicly stated their opposition or shared that in any way with reporters is not a cause for great confidence. So, all of these need all the phone calls they can get. (See “Talking Points” below.)

Use the Capitol Switchboard:

202-224-3121

ALASKA
Sen. Murkowski (R)

LOUISIANA
Sen. Landrieu (D)

MISSOURI
Sen. McCaskill (D)

MONTANA
Sen. Baucus (D)

NORTH DAKOTA
Sen. Conrad (D)

WEST VIRGINIA
Sen. Manchin (D)

Note that most of these states are small-population states. We need a lot more phone calls going to those offices. If you live in those states, or in the same region, or have any other connection to those states, please make the calls. The other side is absolutely flooding their offices with phone calls making the most emotional appeals possible.

PHONE THESE SENATORS WHO NEED ENCOURAGEMENT TO STICK WITH ‘NO’

These Senators would have voted NO last Thursday if Senate Majority Leader Reid had not successfully moved to table the amnesty until he could find some more YES votes. But there is so much horse trading going on right now with the tax deal, with the funding for the entire federal government still up in the air, with the START Treaty and any number of other issues that have to be resolved before Senators head home.

THESE SENATORS NEED TO HEAR WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT.

Thank them for their publicized promise to vote NO on the amnesty and then remind the staffers why NO is the right vote.

Our Hill Team asks that, if you have a Republican Senator (other than Lugar of Indiana or Bennett of Utah), phone him/her and encourage them to stick with their promise of NO.

But these Senators need the most encouragement because of the special politics of their own states and other vulnerabilities they may have to pressure from the open-borders folks.

ARKANSAS
Sen. Pryor (D)

FLORIDA
Sen. LeMieux (R)

MAINE
Sen. Collins (R)
Sen. Snowe (R)

MASSACHUSETTS
Sen. Brown (R)

NEBRASKA
Sen. Nelson (D)

NORTH CAROLINA
Sen. Hagan (D)

PLEASE DON’T FORGET THAT YOU ARE THANKING THESE SENATORS. They have announced they will vote NO. You are just calling them to let them know that their NO vote will be a popular one.

TURN THESE TWO SENATORS

For some reason, these two Senators who should be NO votes or, at the least, Undeclared were among the few who signed the cloture motion to start debate on the DREAM amnesty.

I feel that both could eventually vote NO on a final cloture vote that would END debate. But for some reason they seem to support STARTING the debate. Let’s keep the pressure on them to kill this amnesty with the first cloture vote and not let the debate start in the first place.

MICHIGAN
Sen. Stabenow (D)

NORTH DAKOTA
Sen. Dorgan (D)

TALKING POINTS

I feel like most of the Senators are ignoring the main reasons the DREAM amnesty should not go any farther in this Lame Duck session:


* It is a massive amnesty to deal with the symptoms of past out-of-control illegal immigration without a single provision to reduce future illegal immigration.

* It creates millions more legal workers to compete with the 22 million Americans who want a full-time job but can’t find one. And it does nothing to turn off the jobs magnet for future illegal workers.

Don’t forget that the Senators you are calling are basically sympathetic to the young illegal-alien adults who were brought here by their parents. I don’t think speaking against the potential amnesty recipients will be helpful in those offices. Instead, emphasize the points above and how continued illegal immigration harms American victims.

The DREAM Act amnesty is


(a) full of loopholes
(b) wildly susceptible to fraud
(c) does nothing to end the job magnet that allowed the parents to put these “kids” into their position in the first place.

I KNOW YOU ARE TIRED OF PHONING, PHONING, PHONING. SO, THANKS SO MUCH FOR PICKING UP THAT PHONE ONCE AGAIN,

After a week of rapid activity and political maneuvering, the Senate is now poised to take up the House-passed version of the DREAM Act. Wednesday night, the House passed its version of the bill (H.R.5281), less than 24 hours after it was introduced, by a vote of 216-198. Thursday morning, the Senate was scheduled to vote on whether to proceed with debate on its own bill (S.3992). However, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) successfully moved to table his own bill, saying there would be “no point” to taking up legislation that would not go anywhere because the House had already acted. Reid then promised action on H.R.5281 this week and said he hopes to send it directly to the President’s desk.

H.R. 5281 is similar to the Senate DREAM Act in that it grants amnesty to illegal aliens up to 30 years old who claim to have lived in the U.S. for five years and “initially entered” before the age of 16. H.R.5281 does this by granting illegal aliens a 5-year period of conditional nonimmigrant status if they have completed high school, have a GED, or have been admitted to a college or university (including online schools). H.R.5281 allows these aliens to extend this status for another five years (or longer) if the alien completes two years of college or military service. An alien may apply for a green card after ten years.


However, DHS may waive the educational and military requirements, both at the point of renewing an alien’s conditional nonimmigrant status and at the point of granting a green card.

H.R.5281 charges an initial fee of $525 upon granting conditional nonimmigrant status and a subsequent fee of $2,000 upon renewal.

The chances of passage in the Senate are uncertain at this point. Many Senators have already voiced their objections to the DREAM Act, but amnesty supporters are hoping that House passage of the bill will create significant momentum and help persuade a handful of wavering Senators to support it. MUST read (The Hill, Dec. 13, 2010) The Senate is expected to vote on it this week as one of the final measures of the lame-duck session of Congress.

FAIR

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The Sunlight Foundation uses cutting-edge technology and ideas to make government transparent and accountable.

Data recently disclosed by the Federal Reserve shows that one its emergency lending programs, the Term Asset-Backed loan Facility or TALF, led to the purchasing of assets from 56 organizations–among them seven were also aided by the biggest bailout program, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. Those seven financial firms benefited from $25 billion–or 35 percent–of the $71 billion in loans issued through through TALF.

More than two years after the financial crisis was touched off by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, when Congress, the Bush administration and independent agencies like the Federal Reserve took unprecedented actions to prop up bankers, brokers and other financial firms, the public is only now beginning to see detailed information on actions the government took that were considered secret before. While the Federal Reserve has released transaction level detail for TALF purchases, something that was ordered by Congress, it has withheld much of the underlying data for other emergency programs; Bloomberg.com reported that the Fed did not release information on the underlying securities purchased through the Term Securities Lending Facility program (TSLF) or the Term Auction Facility (TAF).

That program, launched in November 2008, issued $71 billion in loans to 177 investors. Those investors purchased assets from 56 companies and their subsidiaries*, including manufacturing giants like General Electric, auto industry firms including Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Hyundai, Nissan and CarMax, and the seven institutions that received TARP funds.

The breakdown of industries where TALF money was used to purchase assets

Under TALF, an investment firm like PIMCO or BlackRock received a non-recourse loan—one that didn’t have to be paid back if the investment lost money—and used it to buy asset-back securities from companies in a variety of industries, such as credit card securities from Discover, auto loan securities from BMW, or commercial mortgage-backed securities from JP Morgan Chase. The program was designed to create a no-lose situation for sellers or buyers, but taxpayers could end up on the hook if any of the investments go south. And because $30 billion in TALF loans have yet to be repaid, that is still a possibility.

Citibank, one of the nation’s biggest banks and one of TARP’s largest recipients at more than $45 billion, received the most TALF funds via third party asset purchasers. Some $14 billion—or 21 percent—of all TALF loans made went towards purchasing assets from the financial conglomerate.

All eight of these TARP recipients also benefited largely from TALF

Citibank sold many types of asset-backed securities through the program, including student loans, auto loans and credit cards. The bank also sold mortgage-backed securities.

As we previously reported, Bank of America had the ability to benefit from TALF two ways. The financial holding company sold almost $2.8 billion in securities to investors using Fed money, while BlackRock—an investment firm it had a stake in through its acquisition of Merrill Lynch–was able to arrange purchases of assets worth more than $2.8 billion. BlackRock is even recorded as an investor in Bank of America’s assets, purchasing $166 million worth of assets.

All seven of the TARP recipients—

* Citigroup

* Bank of America

* J.P. Morgan Chase

* American Express

* Wachovia

* Discover Financial Services, and

* Morgan Stanley–that benefited from TALF are also politically active as lobbyists regarding financial matters and donors to political campaigns.


TALF involves multiple players and money from two government agencies, and was intended to create liquidity into firms by freeing up the balance sheets of companies that lend to consumers so those companies could in turn do more lending. Many of the assets sold through the program were classified as subprime and legacy. Legacy was a term given to mortgage securities that were poorly performing and caused trouble for the banks that held them.The Fed made guaranteed, non-recourse loans to investors for assets such as these. The Department of Treasury gave the Fed a $20 billion insurance policy—taxpayer’s money—in case any of those investments went bad.


We altered the Fed’s data release by combining parent companies with subsidiaries. For instance, we added all of Merrill Lynch’s assets and Banc of America Commercial Mortgage Trust assets to Bank of America. We also combined the Student Loan Corporation with Citibank, both subsidiaries of Citigroup.

~In gratitude to Sunlight Foundation and a GREAT Blogger – Ryan Sibley for Exposing this!

“Government transparency is critical to creating a better democracy, and of highest importance in how I cast my vote. I pledge, through my sustained engagement, to hold public officials accountable for being open and transparent.”
Through this pledge we let our elected officials and candidates for office know that they must answer to the public in being more transparent. Government must make what it does, how it is influenced and how it spends our money available to citizens ONLINE and in REAL-TIME.

In signing this pledge, you are helping to ensure:


* Candidates for office are more transparent through their campaigns
* Government budget and spending information is easily available
* “Public” government information is “online” through the Public Online Information Act
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* Lobbyists are held to greater account for the influence they exert on public officials

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