Rep. Lewis passed over for powerful chairmanship

Republicans passed over  Rep. Jerry Lewis in favor of a veteran Kentucky lawmaker Wednesday to chair the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

The party’s steering committee rejected Lewis’s request to waive term limits that bar him from reclaiming the post he held when Republicans last held the majority.

The decision deprives Lewis of a position that would have given him control over the federal government’s purse strings and a heightened ability to direct millions of dollars to his home district, which includes some of the Pass area.

See also: CREW’s Most Corrupt: Rep. Jerry Lewis

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Police: Priest solicited murder of boy accusing him of sex abuse

(CNN) — A Catholic priest, facing criminal charges and a lawsuit alleging that he sexually abused a teenage boy, is now charged with attempting to hire someone to kill the youth, authorities said Tuesday.

The Rev. John M. Fiala was in the Dallas County, Texas, jail on Tuesday, charged with one count of criminal solicitation to commit capital murder, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety and the jail’s website. He also is charged with two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child. His bail totals $700,000.

Fiala, 52, of Dallas, was out on bond on other sexual assault charges involving the youth, now 18, when he allegedly attempted to negotiate the boy’s murder, said Thomas B. Rhodes, the teen’s attorney.

He was arrested last week after he offered an undercover agent with the Texas Department of Public Safety $5,000 to kill the teen, according to department spokeswoman Lisa Block.

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California passes bill to counteract ‘disturbing’ Texas curriculum

Measure ensures Texas standards don’t ‘creep into our textbooks,’ senator tells Raw Story

The California Senate on Friday approved legislation that sends a clear message to Texas and textbook publishers: don’t mess with our kids’ minds.

“My bill begins the process of ensuring that California students will not end up being taught with Texas standards,” State Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), who authored and sponsored the legislation, said in an interview. Texas standards had better not “creep into our textbooks,” he said.

The S.B. 1451 measure – approved on a bipartisan vote of 25-5 – requires the California State Board of Education to examine and report any discrepancies between the new Texas standards and California’s standards. “At that point,” Yee told Raw Story, “we will make it very, very clear that we won’t accept textbooks that minimize the contributions of minorities and propagate the close connection between church and state.”

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Texas Officer Charged With Sex Assault

A San Antonio Police Department officer sexually assaulted a man while he was on duty, an affidavit stated.

According to an arrest affidavit, a man told police that Officer Craig Nash picked him up at 3 a.m. Thursday near the intersection of Guadalupe and Zarzamora streets, handcuffed him and told him to lie down in the back of a police cruiser.

The man told police that Nash, 39, drove him to an unknown location and sexually assaulted him, the affidavit stated. Nash then drove the man back to a school on Guadalupe Street and drove off, the affidavit stated.

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Pentagon investigating alleged spy operation

WASHINGTON — A Department of Defense official is under investigation for allegedly hiring private contractors to gather intelligence on suspected insurgents in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a U.S. official said Monday.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the case, told The Associated Press that Michael D. Furlong directed a defense contract to gather information about the region that could be shared with military units. After military officials suspected that he was using Defense Department money for an off-the-books spy operation, defense officials shut down that part of the contract, the official said.

The story was first reported by The New York Times in Monday’s editions, quoting unidentified military and business sources as saying that Furlong, now a senior civilian employee at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, hired subcontractors who had former U.S. intelligence and special forces operatives on their payrolls. The newspaper said some of the information collected by the contractors was used to track down and attack militants.

“The story makes some serious allegations and raises numerous unanswered questions that warrant further review by the department,” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said Monday.

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Fort Hood Army scum convicted of murder in drive-by killing

BELTON, Texas — A Fort Hood soldier has been convicted of murder for an April 2008 off-post drive-by shooting during an apparent argument.

The penalty phase was scheduled Friday in Belton for 25-year-old Reid Mark Paoloni of Killeen.

The victim was 18-year-old Christopher Wall Jr.

Jurors on Thursday convicted Paoloni in a case that investigators say began with a conversation at a gas station between Paoloni, riding in a vehicle, and passengers in another car. Wall was the driver of the second car.

Paoloni surrendered several months after the shooting.

Prisons too expensive

The Extravagance of Imprisonment Revisited

How much could the government save by cutting prison costs?

According to a new report issued by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, billions of dollars could be saved through reforming the United States prison system. California alone could save an estimated $1.4 billion.

As of 2006, the United States has imprisoned over 1.6 million people. The United States also has the highest incarceration rates in the world. This rate is predicted to rise as “get tough on crime” laws continue to be issued.

This report “analyzes prison and jail populations in the United States as a whole and in four key states–California, Florida, New York, and Texas–to determine 1) how many prisoners are non-serious offenders and what it costs to lock them up, 2) what proven effective alternatives are in use and what they cost, and 3) what savings could be realized if a portion of the non-serious offenders were sentenced to alternatives instead of prison and jail.”