Limits on spying on U.S. citizens were violated
The federal government has repeatedly violated legal limits governing the surveillance of U.S. citizens, according to previously secret internal documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union. In releasing 900 pages of documents, U.S. government agencies refused to say how many Americans' telephone, e-mail or other communications have been intercepted under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act — or FISA — Amendments Act of 2008, or to discuss any specific abuses, the ACLU said. However, semiannual internal oversight reports by the offices of the attorney general and director of national intelligence identify ongoing breaches to minimize the amount of data collected.
Congress lowers volume on TV ads
The days of getting blasted by blaring TV commercials may soon be over. The House on Thursday passed a bill that would prevent advertisers from abruptly raising the volume to catch the attention of viewers wandering off when regular programming is interrupted. Under the legislation, now heading to President Barack Obama for his signature, the Federal Communications Commission would be required within one year to adopt industry standards that coordinate ad decibel levels to those of the regular program. The new regulations, applying to all broadcast providers, would go into effect a year after that. The Senate approved the legislation in September.
Child nutrition bill is sent to Obama
The House on Thursday passed a $4.5 billion bill to feed more lunches and dinners to children at school, sending the legislation to President Barack Obama. The bill would increase eligibility for needy children to eat free lunches and expand a program that provides full meals after school to all 50 states. It would also try to cut down on greasy foods and extra calories by giving the government power to decide what kinds of foods may be sold in schools, part of first lady Michelle Obama's campaign to end childhood hunger and combat childhood obesity. The Senate passed the legislation in August.
Plan to cut debt draws 2 from GOP
Republican Sens. Mike Crapo of Idaho and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, who have reputations as budget-slashing conservatives, said Thursday that they would vote to endorse the bipartisan debt commission's final report. The vote, scheduled for today, needs the support of 14 of the panel's 18 members to prevail. If 14 members approve, the recommendations of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform would go to Congress, which could start debating them early next year. The panel proposes cuts of about $4 trillion from federal budget deficits by 2020.
Former GOP treasurer sentenced: Christopher Ward, 42, treasurer of the National Republican Congressional Committee from 2003 to 2007, was sentenced Thursday to 37 months in prison for stealing political funds, including money from fundraising dinners headlined by President George W. Bush.
N.Y. mayor criticizes Obama: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg accused President Barack Obama, in an interview in the December edition of GQ magazine, of breaking campaign promises and said he needs better advisers. He did not elaborate on which promises were broken.