Noontime News is a snapshot of our RSS feeds from the noon (Eastern time) hour.

Freshman GOPer Didn’t Know Government Paid For Her Health Benefits

“A fun nugget buried in this story about Rep. Ann Buerkle’s (R-NY) first town hall meeting as an elected member of Congress. Constituents repeatedly asked a puzzled Buerkle about her health benefits. She couldn’t figure out why. But her staff sure could.

Buerkle, who voted to repeal the health care reform act, was twice asked about the health insurance she receives as a government employee. At first she said she couldn’t understand why people were so interested in her health insurance, and that taxpayers didn’t pay anything for it. “

Sarah Palin Takes It To The Next Level: Trademark Status. Hello, Sarah Palin®

“Bad news if you were thinking of hitching a ride on Brand Palin. The former Alaska governor and Fox News contributor is way ahead of you. According to Suzi Parker at Politics Daily, Sarah Palin has filed paperwork with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to trademark both “Sarah Palin®” and “Bristol Palin®.””

Luxembourg Ambassador Demoralized Embassy; Had Staff House Hunt, Splurged On Mattress

“The now-former U.S Ambassador to Luxembourg, Cynthia Stroum, had members of the small staff of the embassy spend the majority of their time on the important task of finding her a temporary residence that met her high standards; made refurbishing the bathroom at the ambassador’s residence a top personal priority; told them that she could snoop on their e-mails; and left her office so demoralized that some top staffers volunteered to serve in two war zone embassies rather than continue to work under her leadership.”

Is Ginni Thomas Getting Rich Off Clarence Thomas’ Supreme Court Decisions?

“Supreme Court spouse Ginni Thomas has a new job — as the head of a Tea Party lobbying firm called “Liberty Consulting.” Her new firm, which promises to give “voice to principled citizens and the tea party movement in the halls of Congress through governmental affairs efforts” also offers very unusual service to its clients:

Liberty Consulting offers advice for short or long term projects and bringing resources to bear for impact — whether it includes a short term bill-reading project, assistance on congressional oversight efforts or an effective coalition for impact. Additionally, Liberty Consulting offers advice on optimizing political investments for charitable giving in the non-profit world or political causes.

Bachmann Surrenders On Support For Draconian Cuts To Veterans’ Benefits

“Last week, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) unveiled a plan to cut $400 billion in federal spending, and included a controversial target. The Tea Party favorite proposed freezing the Veterans Affairs Department’s health care spending and cutting veterans’ disability benefits. Her plan sliced $4.5 billion from the VA and reduced 150,000 veterans’ disability compensation and the amount they receive in Social Security Disability Income. Veterans groups blasted the proposal as “totally out of step with America’s commitment to our veterans,” and as something that shows “contempt for American servicemembers’ sacrifices.” Democrats outside her state even began targeting Bachmann’s proposal; Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) wrote her a letter which said her ideas were a “giant step in the wrong direction.” After days of similar criticism, Bachmann has finally retreated and withdrew that part of her spending reduction proposal today.”

The For-Profit College Rip-Off: Predatory Schools Take 90 Percent Of Revenue From Govt, Leave Students Bankrupt

“The Education Department today released new data on the rate at which higher education students default on their student loans, which showed that students at for-profit colleges — schools like the University of Phoenix or Strayer University — are defaulting at rates far above those at other institutions. In fact, 25 percent of students who attend for profit colleges default within three years.”[…]
The schools also engage in aggressive recruiting and marketing tactics, promising students quick degrees and good jobs, when the result is more often a rip-off, resulting in “crushing debt and bleak job prospects.” A new report from the National Consumer Law Center said that the for-profits’ in-house loan programs are, for all intents and purposes, predatory.

Conservative GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss: Tax Increases Have ‘To Be Part Of The Mix’ To Reduce Deficit

“One of the great contradictions in the modern Republican Party is that almost all Republicans at the federal level advocate for both reducing the deficit and against even the tiniest of tax increases — goals which stand completely opposite of each other. Hundreds of elected Republicans have even signed the Americans For Tax Reform “Taxpayer Protection Pledge,” vowing to never support raising taxes under any circumstance. “

Texas Lawmakers Aim For Guns On College Campuses

“A proposed law in the state would remove “premises of higher education” as gun-free zones. Supporters of the measure say they want to prevent another incident like the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, but critics warn that mixing youth, handguns and partying can be dangerous.”

Obama: Timing of Mubarak exit not up to United States

“President Barack Obama said the decision of when the Egyptian leader leaves office will be made by Mubarak and the Egyptian people. He said he has warned Mubarak “going back to the old ways is not going to work.””

Read More: Egypt Officials Seek to Nudge Mubarak Out

As Germany Booms, It Faces a Shortage of Workers

“An aging population and inflation-fighting measures that have kept wages low are making it difficult for companies to find workers.”

Satire: Obama Delivers Whispered, Untelevised Speech On Gun Control

“President Obama delivered a 10-minute-long inaudible and untelevised speech on gun control Thursday, addressing the politically volatile topic from behind the closed doors of the Oval Office, where nobody could see or hear him…whispered a number of strong, definitive statements that were muffled by the hand in front of his face. “While I understand this is an important issue to many Americans, I also believe that in the aftermath of the tragedy in Arizona, certain kinds of guns are [incoherent mumble], and that we should seriously look at [incoherent mumble]. It’s the right thing to do.” “

Good News if You Like Mudbaths: Why Keeping Little Girls Squeaky Clean Could Make Them Sick

“There’s a growing body of research showing that children exposed to lots of germs early in life are less likely to develop allergies, asthma or autoimmune disorders as they grow up.

But now there’s a new twist on the theory, known as the hygiene hypothesis in scientific circles, and it’s about little girls in cute little dresses.

In an article in the peer-reviewed journal Social Science and Medicine, Sharyn Clough, a philosopher of science at Oregon State University who studies research bias, says young girls are held to a higher standard of cleanliness than young boys, a discrepancy that could help explain later health differences.”

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