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Supreme Court Ruling Means Money Could Influence U.S. Electoral Process

Following the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling that eliminated caps on overall campaign contributions, Americans across the country fear that money may now have an undue influence on our nation’s politics and the workings of the government.

“I’m just afraid the wealthy will have a disproportionate amount of say in what goes on,” said Barbara Mancuso of Easton, PA. “I mean, what about the average person? I’d hate to see our equal place at the table taken away.”

“Up until now, it’s been an even playing field,” said Jack Harper of Santa Clarita, California. “You wanted a certain law to be passed, you called up your congressman, he went to lunch with you, took your advice and voted that way. Now, the individual may not have as much influence. He may listen to corporations or big, powerful entities with deeper pockets more than to the average American.”

The decision follows the ruling in the Citizens United case, in which the court ruled that government does not have the power to limit corporate donations to political campaigns. The two rulings, both favoring moneyed, powerful interests, give some people pause.

“Corporations are people, I get that,” Mr. Harper said. “I mean, I love McDonald’s like I love my brother. More, actually. So I get that. But I don’t want it to get to the point where McDonald’s has more say than I do in how tax laws or other legislation is written and voted on. Because that would be a shame.”

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Derek Jeter Eats Last Pregame Meal Before a Monday Home Opener Against a Team from Baltimore

New York – Yankees all-star shortstop Derek Jeter ate his final pregame meal before a Monday home opener against a team from Baltimore today, continuing checking off items on his list of “lasts” as he continues his farewell tour. Jeter has confirmed he will retire following this season.

Jeter did not reveal what his pre-game meal consisted of, but it said it was “consistent with the meals I’ve eaten before games my whole career.”

The Yankees captain will continue his farewell tour as the season progresses, and will check off more items on his list of “lasts.”

The end of this month will bring the last postgame shower after a loss against a team from California, and the last sex with a supermodel before a home game in April.

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House Republicans Offer Immigrants Pathway to Legal Status, Provided they Pave it Themselves for $2.25 an Hour

Washington – Tea Party-backed Republican members of the House of Representatives announced a new proposal to overhaul the country’s immigration policy Monday, including a radical new offer that would grant immigrants in the United States illegally a pathway to legal status. However, the immigrants would have to pave said pathway themselves, and would be capped at a maximum salary of $2.25 per hour for the work.

“We want to move this country forward to a sensible immigration policy,” said Louisiana Congressmen John Fleming. He was flanked at an afternoon press conference by other members of the Tea Party Caucus, including Joe Wilson of South Carolina, Phil Gingrey of Georgia and Steve Scalise, also from Louisiana.

“Today we present a rational, measured proposal that offers immigrants a pathway to legal status, provided they pave that pathway themselves. They will be paid $2.25 an hour for this work, which we think is more than generous for work that offers the workers so much on the other end.”

Fleming pointed out that the proposal does not offer citizenship, which he said he and other party leaders consider “amnesty.”

“Our guiding principal on this was, ‘No amnesty,'” Fleming said. “These people have broken the law, and as everyone in this country knows, people without power who break the law pay the price in this country. That’s a tradition that goes back to our founding fathers.”

Rep. Gingrey reiterated much of what his colleague had already said, but also added that other measures that have been put forth by members of Congress to try to deal with this issue are wrong-headed and naive.

“What has come before has been a collection of weak-willed, destructive policy proposals, which not only don’t solve the problem of fixing our broken immigration system, but also do a great disservice to the immigrant community, as well,” Gingrey said. “It’s time for an intelligent, measured, rational response to this problem, both for our country and for the immigrants themselves. And who better to figure out how to solve issues facing a largely poor, minority community than a bunch of rich, white guys?”

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Florida: By ‘Stand Your Ground,’ We Meant ‘Chase a Dark-Skinned Man and Shoot Him’

Tallahassee, Florida – Governor Rick Scott told reporters Wednesday that Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law has been largely misconstrued. The law has come under new scrutiny after an Orlando man, Claudius Smith, chased a man he claims was a would-be burglar to a neighboring apartment complex and shot him. The young man, Ricardo Sanes, died, and Smith has been charged with second-degree murder.

Many law enforcement officials say that the “Stand Your Ground” law wouldn’t apply in the case, but Scott opened up the possibility that Smith, and other defendants like him, would able to invoke “Stand Your Ground,” if the law was understood the way it was intended.

“When we said, ‘Stand Your Ground,’ what we meant was, ‘Chase a dark-skinned man and then shoot that person,'” Scott said. “I thought that was clear when I signed the law, but apparently it’s been misinterpreted to mean staying in place, and defending yourself if you feel threatened. That’s completely mistaken, as far as I’m concerned.”

Scott says, going by the amended definition, the Orlando case would, in fact, be one where the law would apply.

“I think it’s perfectly reasonable,” Scott said. “Someone walks around in your backyard, and then they run away, you have every right to chase that person down, hunt them like an animal and take the law into your own hands, even if it means ending their life. And that’s what ‘Stand Your Ground’ is all about.”

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Surgeon General: Looking at Cigarettes Causes Cancer

Washington – The acting United States surgeon general, Dr. Boris D. Lushniak, released a report Monday which links simply looking at a pack of cigarettes to the development of at least two types of cancer. The finding is the first time a definitive link has been drawn between viewing cigarettes and illness.

Cigarettes have long been known to cause several types of health problems, principally lung cancer and heart disease, and have recently also been linked to diabetes, erectile dysfunction and vision loss. However, all of those illnesses can be traced to inhaling, touching or otherwise consuming the contents of the cigarette. The potential of developing cancer merely from seeing a pack of cigarettes is a new and alarming finding.

“Research shows conclusively that individuals who see a pack of cigarettes at least once a year are 52 times more likely than people who don’t see the cigarettes to develop ocular cancer,” said a statement released by Dr. Lushniak regarding the report’s findings. “They are also 24 times more likely to develop cancer of the eyelid than individuals who do not view a pack of cigarettes.”

It was previously thought that cancer of the eyelid was caused mainly by sun exposure and other factors, but the report concludes that “new studies are urgently needed in this area.”

The report was made up of a collection of the top literature on the health risks of cigarette smoking and is likely to be considered the definitive research document on the issue. The surgeon general’s 1964 report, released 50 years ago, was the first to state a link between lung cancer and cigarette smoking, and greatly altered the way Americans looked at smoking.

The findings of the new report are sure to cause many to sit up and take notice. Not the least of these will be tobacco industry executives and investors, says Jason R. Timelan of Norris Financial Holdings, a Wall Street financial consulting firm.

“This is definitely not good for the industry,” Timelan said. “I mean, first it was, you couldn’t smoke them. Then it was, you couldn’t even breathe the smoke from someone else who smoked them. Now, you can’t look at them. You add it all up and it’s possible to conclude there’s something unhealthy about this product.”

But for Tom Jacobi of Everson Research Group, Inc., a firm that studies consumer habits, it’s important to point out that millions of people have known for decades the risks associated with cigarette smoking, and have continued doing so anyway, even with a purchase price that has consistently increased.

“It’s a great lesson in producing a product that people absolutely have to have,” Jacobi said. “You can lose some customers over a long period, because you make up for that by raising prices, and there will be a substantial chunk of people who will pay the increase because they just ‘gotta have’ that cigarette. It’s like crack. If you raise the price of crack, people are still going to smoke crack. People perform oral sex for crack. That’s a pretty high price.”

Crack is, of course, illegal, whereas cigarettes continue to be sold legally in the United States. According to Jacobi, that’s really the only difference between the tobacco industry and the illicit drug trade.

“Legality. That’s it. Other than that, they’re exactly the same. Same brilliant business model: make a product so addictive that the customer can’t stop buying. Look: If Marlboro said, ‘Starting tomorrow, you have to give oral sex for a pack of Reds,’ believe me, you’d see a lot more oral sex happening around the convenience store.”