Sitting this one out


Reasoning that it “doesn’t make a ton of sense for him to pour cash into Florida” with Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio seeking the GOP nomination for president, Scott Walker confirmed he does not plan to compete in the state’s primary, contradicting his assertions that he would not skip it. (Bush is a former Florida governor; Rubio is a senator there.)
The Wisconsin governor told supporters of his plan during a fundraiser at the St. Louis home of Rex Sinquefeld, Missouri’s most active Republican donor, reports Real Clear Politics. He hinted he will focus on Midwestern states  — Missouri, Illinois and Ohio — with primaries on March 15, the same day as Florida’s.
During the event, he predicted that the Republican primary contest could extend into April.
Walker has insisted he could “compete anywhere in the country,” and his plans to bail on Florida doesn’t change his feelings, says AshLee Strong, a Walker spokeswoman.
“We have long said Gov. Walker has appeal with voters of all kinds across all states, but we have also acknowledged the obvious that there are two Floridians in the race.”


IRS’ internal communications system kept no records


The Internal Revenue Service leaned on an instant messaging service called the Office Communication Server that kept no record of sent messages, Americans for Tax Reform reports.
The conservative advocacy group, founded and led by anti-tax champion Grover Norquist, cites documents released by the House Oversight Committee. In them, an email sent by former IRS official Lois Lerner warns of the need to keep certain information out of emails: “I was cautioning folks about email and how we have had several occasions where Congress has asked for emails and there has been an electronic search for responsive emails – so we need to be cautious about what we say in emails.”
Upon learning that the OCS system did not archive communications, Lerner, the chief figure in a scandal in which the organization targeted Tea Party groups for added scrutiny of requests for tax-exempt status, responded, “Perfect.”
The system has the functionality to archive messages, but the IRS did not activate that option.
Meanwhile, Timothy Camus, an official with the watchdog overseeing the IRS, said that, of six possible sources to recover 24,000 emails from Lerner that the agency said were lost, the IRS searched only one.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen had said the organization took “extraordinary efforts” to recover the emails. Camus voiced a different assessment: “To the best we can determine …, they just simply didn’t look for those emails.”


On a guns, Queen Elizabeth II and Edward Snowden


This guy’s had it

For a Florida gun store owner, the fatal shootings of four Marines and a Navy petty officer at two military installations in Chattanooga, Tenn., last week were the final straw.
Andy Hallinan, owner of Florida Gun Supply in Inverness, says, effective immediately, his shop is a “Muslim-free zone,” reports WDBO in Orlando, Fla.
In a video posted online, Hallinan discusses the history of the Confederate flag and goes on to say, “Our leaders are telling you Islam is a peaceful religion full of tolerance and love and hope. Don’t believe their lies.”
He plans to offer concealed-carry classes and open his range to anyone who wants to use it.
In a statement, the Council on American-Islamic Relations says it will ask the Department of Justice to investigate possible civil rights violations.

Queen of the road

She waits for no one.
Queen Elizabeth II, apparently impatient as she drove herself to church, swerved her Jaguar X-Type onto the grass to go around a young family strolling in Windsor Great Park, The Telegraph reports.
Despite veering around the couple, who was with their two children — one on a tricycle and one in a stroller — the monarch smiled and waved as she proceeded down the 2.6-mile Long Walk, says Scarlett Vincent, who was visiting from Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire with her husband, Toby Core.
“We actually didn’t have time to get out of the way, as we were in a world of our own,” Vincent recalls. “I turned to (Core) and just said, “Oh my God, it’s the queen.”


No road, no problem for Queen Elizabeth II.

Old-school execution for Snowden?

If Saxby Chambliss gets his way, leaker Edward Snowden would be publicly hanged.
“We need to hang him on the courthouse square as soon as we get our hands on him,” the former Georgia lawmaker, who was the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told students at the University of Georgia Terry College of Business, according to The Hill.
“I hope none of you have any sympathy for him.”
Chambliss’ remarks were made during a discussion about the theft of 22 million people’s data from the Office of Personnel Management.
“Just like with Snowden, we’re going to lose American lives as a result of this breach,” he warned.
Snowden has sought refuge in Russia for the past two years to avoid U.S. espionage charges.


Going out on a limb


Doctors in China saved a man’s hand severed in an industrial accident — by grafting it onto his ankle for a month.

It's not the first time that Chinese surgeons have attempted the procedure. Another factory worker's hand was saved in 2013 at a hospital in Changde, also in Hunan province.

It’s not the first time that Chinese surgeons have attempted the procedure. Another factory worker’s hand was saved in 2013   at a hospital in Changde, also in Hunan province.

A factory worker known as Zhou lost his left hand to a spinning blade machine, reports The Independent.

Surgeons at Xiangya Hospital in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province in central China, couldn’t reattach it immediately because severed nerves and tendons needed to heal.

The hand was sewn onto Zhou’s leg to keep it “alive” until the arm was ready.

Dr. Tang Juyu, head of microsurgery at the hospital, tells The Telegraph: “Under normal temperatures, a severed finger needs to resume blood supply within 10 hours, but the time is even shorter for a separated limb.”

As for Zhou? The feeling in his fingers has returned, but months of rehabilitation remain.


Ups and downs for ‘The Donald’



Even though ‘The Donald’ is enjoying a surge in popularity, it really hasn’t been a good week for Trump otherwise.

• Arizona Sen. John McCain expressed his displeasure at a campaign rally that Trump held on Saturday, during which he shared the stage with the father of a man killed by an undocumented man and continued his rant against illegal immigration. “This performance with our friend out in Phoenix is very hurtful to me,” McCain says, according to The New Yorker. “Because what he did was he fired up the crazies.”

• A tweet by Trump on Monday drew a response from a Twitter account purporting to be Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the leader of the notorious Sinaloa drug cartel in Mexico who escaped from prison on Saturday — and prompted a call to the FBI.
Trump tweeted, in part: “El Chapo and the Mexican drug cartels use the border unimpeded like it was a vacuum cleaner, sucking drugs and death right into the U.S.”
An account with hundreds of thousands of followers, thought to belong to Guzman, responded, “Keep (bleeping) around and I’m going to make you eat your (bleeping) words.”
Trump asked the FBI to investigate the threat, ABC reports.

• Trump piñatas are such a hit that a party store in a Dallas neighborhood can’t keep them in.
“Everybody has stress at this time, and what better than to knock the crap out of Donald Trump?” says Oak Cliff store owner Carlos de la Fuente, who tells CBS Dallas that he’s not a fan of the GOP presidential contender because of his stance on immigration.
Might Obama and Hillary Clinton ones be next?
“You pay me, I’ll do it,” de la Fuente says.
Piñatas are a symbol of evil in Mexico. As tradition goes, they have to be smashed to release the good.

• Fellow GOP contender Rick Perry hit back at Trump over his criticism of the former Texas governor’s 14-year tenure in Austin.
Trump has a “fundamental misunderstanding of border security,” Perry says, according to The Weekly Standard. “I have a message for my fellow Republicans and the independents who will be voting in the primary process: What Mr. Trump is offering is not conservatism, it is Trump-ism — a toxic mix of demagoguery and nonsense.”

Trump’s month-old campaign is no stranger to high-profile criticism, but his standing with the public has grown since his June 16 announcement. A Suffolk University/USA Today poll released on Wednesday showed Trump leading the crowded field of candidates for the Republican nomination. In the nationwide survey, Trump leads at 17%, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is second at 14%, the only competitors who reach double digits.


The best-seller that wasn’t

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz of Texas sold sold 11,854 copies of his book "A Time for Truth" in the week after his release.

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz of Texas sold sold 11,854 copies of his book “A Time for Truth” in the week after his release.

Conservatives have taken umbrage with The New York Times for its decision to keep Sen. Ted Cruz’s memoir, “A Time for Truth,” off of its nonfiction hardcover best-seller list. The paper said the exclusions were based on sales mostly from “strategic bulk purchases.”

Cruz’s presidential campaign said the decision stemmed from “obvious partisan bias.”

The New York Times called the allegations it excluded books for political reasons “simply ludicrous,” according to Politico. Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy noted that conservative authors including Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly and Ann Coulter have topped its standings, and political candidates including Ron Paul, Mike Huckabee, Marco Rubio and Mitt Romney have been ranked in its lists.

Retailer Amazon echoed the sentiments of Cruz’s publisher HarperCollins in saying its review of sales found “no evidence of unusual bulk purchase activity,” Politico reports.

If the Times was legitimately trying to hurt Cruz, its plan backfired: The book’s literary agent, Keith Urbahn, says, “This controversy is already helping sales.” According to the Houston Chronicle, the book had fallen from No. 9 to No 276 on Amazon’s best-seller lists before the controversy, then surged back to No. 13.


ISIS: A moniker no more


If getting rid of ISIS were only that easy.

With the emergence of the Islamic State terror group, the World Meteorological Organization has removed the name from the official hurricane list, according to USA Today.


Hurricane Iselle (left) is followed by Hurricane Julio as they approach Hawaii from the east in early August 2014. Photo: NASA/Jeff Schmaltz/LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response via Getty Images

Isis, an ancient Egyptian goddess, was on the list of names for 2016 for storms to form in the eastern Pacific. Its replacement? Ivette.

Names on the hurricane lists are recycled every six years, unless a storm causes enough damage that its name is retired, such as in the recent case of Odile, which walloped Mexico in September, killing 11 and causing in excess of $1 billion in damage.




A taxing read, for sure


If you haven’t crunched enough numbers in the run-up to the April 15 tax deadline, here’s one more: 74,608.

That’s the number of pages in the federal tax code, according to Wolters Kluwer, CCH, an Illinois-based provider of tax, accounting and audit information that has analyzed the law for more than a century.

The initial tax code, in 1913, was a modest 400 pages. Most of its growth — from 26,300 pages in 1984 to its present size — has occurred in the past 30 years. From 2010, when Obamacare was passed, to 2014, the code swelled by nearly 3,000 pages.

If it continues to grow at the same pace, it is expected to top 100,000 pages in 2050.




Catch of the day?

A Florida bobcat snags a rare catch from the waters off the beach of Sebastian Inlet State Park. Photo: John Bailey via FWC logo Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

A Florida bobcat snags a rare catch from the waters off the beach of Sebastian Inlet State Park.
Photo: John Bailey via
Florida Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission

In the age of Photoshop, rare sights caught on camera, like a photo showing a bobcat snagging a shark from the surf, are even harder to believe. So when beachgoer John Bailey shared the image with West Palm Beach, Fla., NBC affiliate WPTV, many observers were dubious. Is it real?

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USPS not well versed in Angelou’s writings

Oprah Winfrey speaks during the dedication ceremony for the Maya Angelou Forever stamp in Washington, April 7, 2015. Photo: Reuters

Oprah Winfrey speaks during the dedication ceremony for the Maya Angelou Forever stamp in Washington, April 7, 2015. Photo: Reuters

When Martin Luther King Jr. was memorialized with a 30-foot granite statue in Washington, D.C., acclaimed writer and civil rights figure Maya Angelou took exception to an inscription reading “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.” The truncated version of a longer King quote made the civil rights leader “look like an arrogant twit,” Angelou complained.

It ought to have been an admonition to be more diligent when quoting public figures for the benefit of posterity.

The United States Postal Service, it would seem, didn’t heed the lesson.

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