A tea party-backed Texas state lawmaker has filed a bill to fully legalize marijuana, seeking to strike any prohibition of it from state statute.

Republican state Rep. David Simpson of Longview filed his proposal late Monday. In a statement, he said he seeks to “reframe the current marijuana discussion.”

House Bill 2165 would get rid of all references to marijuana from Texas statues.

“I am proposing that this plant be regulated like tomatoes, jalapeos or coffee,” Simpson said in a statement to ABC affiliate KVUE-TV. “Current marijuana policies are not based on science or sound evidence, but rather misinformation and fear.”

Simpson has long championed top libertarian causes but supports legalizing marijuana because of his devout Christian beliefs.

“All that God created is good, including marijuana. God did not make a mistake when he made marijuana that the government needs to fix,” said Simpson.
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Let’s face it — money talks. And for some jobs in 2011, there was a little more talking going on. We took a look at the top 20 jobs in 2011 that had the largest year-over-year salary growth. All of the positions had salary growth of at least 5 percent since last year.

Many factors influence compensation, including location, educational background, experience and skill level. And while a higher salary doesn’t always mean happier people, it does affect workers who are looking to switch careers or re-evaluate their current skills to see if these positions are worth investigating.

Here’s a glance at the top 20 jobs with the highest salary growth in 2011 versus 2010:

1. Network engineer: Provides analytical, technical and administrative support in the planning, design and installation of new and existing voice and data communication systems and services.
Annual salary: $78,000
Increase: 7 percent   Continue Reading →

 American employers stepped up their hiring in December, bringing the unemployment rate down again.

The economy added 200,000 jobs in the month, the Labor Department reported Friday, closing out the year with 1.6 million jobs gained in 2011.

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate fell to 8.5%, the lowest level since February 2009.

The encouraging news was coupled with revisions to the Labor Department’s data going back five years, which showed the unemployment rate has fallen for four consecutive months.  Continue Reading →

According to a recent new report by the U.S. Census Bureau, one in six Americans are now living in poverty — more than 46 million people, or roughly 15 percent of all Americans. This is the highest number since the Census Bureau began tracking poverty 52 years ago. In 2010 alone, 2.6 million more American families’ incomes fell under the poverty line.  Continue Reading →

Despite five months of blistering attacks on dissent, the Syrian regime has yet to score a decisive victory against a pro-democracy uprising determined to bring down the country’s brutal dictatorship.

President Bashar Assad still has the military muscle to level pockets of resistance, but the conflict has robbed him of almost all international support.

Even Saudi Arabia this week called for an end to the bloodshed in Syria, the first of several Arab nations to join the growing chorus against Assad.  Continue Reading →

The downgrading of U.S. government bonds by Standard & Poor’s has become a campaign-shaping event for President Barack Obama and whoever his Republican adversary turns out to be. In fact, it’s ensured that the 2012 election will be fought on the battlefield of debt and unemployment.

The reverberation from that demotion means that Electoral College math (270 electoral votes needed to win) is now on a collision course with budget math (trillions of dollars in reduced spending and increased taxes), and labor market math (14 million unemployed).   Continue Reading →

At least 45 civilians were killed in a tank assault by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces to occupy the center of Hama, an activist said on Thursday, in a sharp escalation of a military campaign aimed at ending an uprising against his rule.

Reacting to intensifying assaults on Syrian cities and towns, the U.N. Security Council overcame deep divisions and condemned Assad’s bloody crackdown on civilian protesters. It was the first substantive action by the United Nations on Syria’s five-month-old uprising for political freedoms.

An activist who managed to leave the besieged city told Reuters that 40 people were killed by heavy machinegun fire and shelling by tanks in al-Hader district north of the Orontes river on Wednesday and early on Thursday.

The activist, who gave his name as Thaer, said five more people from the Fakhri and Assa’ad families, including two children, were killed as they were trying to leave Hama by car on the al-Dhahirya highway. 

Syrian authorities have expelled most independent media, making it difficult to verify witness accounts and official statements.  Continue Reading →


Hacker group Anonymous continued its battle with PayPal this week, encouraging users to cancel their accounts over recent arrests and the company’s refusal to handle transactions for whistleblower site Wikileaks.

The effort, dubbed Operation PayPal (or #OpPayPal), kicked off around 4am Eastern time and called on Anonymous supporters to “immediately close their accounts and consider an alternative.” Continue Reading →

 You’ve heard of employers conducting criminal and background checks. Now, some companies are also conducting social media checks of potential employees.

Evan Urbania with Chatterbox, a social media consulting firm, explains there are companies who can gather all your online comments, posts, feeds and photos to create a profile of who you are online.

“We know that the software and technology and tools that are out there started kind of really recording and logging the social space, going back to about 2005 and 2006 when social media really started to take shape,” Urbania says. Continue Reading →

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — New York state ushered in gay marriage at the stroke of midnight Sunday, with a Buffalo couple among the first to wed.

Kitty Lambert and Cheryle Rudd said “I do” moments after midnight on Goat Island, with rainbow-colored lights on Niagara Falls in the background. The couple have been together for more than 12 years.

The New York Times reported that after a bell rang in the new day, Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster said, “By the power vested in me by the laws of the state of New York, I now pronounce you legally married.” Lambert, 54, and Rudd, 53, kissed in front of more than 100 friends and family members, the Times said.

“We’re so proud of everybody who crawled up this hill with us,” Lambert said Saturday evening before the wedding, BuffaloNews.com reported. Continue Reading →