December 20th, 2010

Poisonous old bat, rejuvenated from dancing, weighs in on shit she should STFU about. Story at 11.

Former Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe has criticised the ‘coming out’ of deputy speaker of the House of Commons, Nigel Evans. She said that being gay “is not an issue” and said that MPs should not disclose details of their private lives.

Miss Widdecombe, a former contestant on Strictly Come Dancing told The Sunday Times that she would not be backing the launch on Monday of ParliOut, the first LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) network for the Parliamentary staff, MPs and Lords.

Asked if she supported the group, she said: “No I do not. MPs are supposed to be there to help other people not to go whingeing on their own behalf. I cannot understand the modern day emphasis and fascination and obsession with people’s private lives.

She added: “We have had gay MPs since we’ve had MPs…we’ve had gay everythings. It is not an issue and what we are doing now is encouraging your profession to go into everybody’s private lives.”

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Source: Pink News

Oh shut up, Widdy. It's easy for you to say being gay "is not an issue". Also, why are the views of this ex-MP still relevant? Because she made a tit of herself on TV for a few weeks?
This is a witty Space Ghost reference.

All internet porn will be blocked to protect children, under UK government plan

THE UK Government is to combat the early sexualization of children by blocking internet pornography unless parents request it, it was revealed today.

The move is intended to ensure that children are not exposed to sex as a routine by-product of the internet. It follows warnings about the hidden damage being done to children by sex sites.

The biggest broadband providers, including BT, Virgin Media and TalkTalk, are being called to a meeting next month by Ed Vaizey, the communications minister, and will be asked to change how pornography gets into homes.

Instead of using parental controls to stop access to pornography - so-called "opting out" - the tap will be turned off at source. Adults will then have to "opt in."

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Mav pwnz all

Video Gamers Use as Much Energy as San Diego

U.S. homes have about 63 million video game consoles, and together they use about as much energy as San Diego does in a year, according to a 2008 study by the Natural Resources Defense Council

Millions of Americans will fire up video game consoles this Christmas, but they may not know that some systems use way more energy than others.

When playing the same video game, Nintendo's Wii system uses a sixth of the power of Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's Playstation 3, according to research from the Electric Power Research Institute.

That doesn't tell the whole story, because the latter two systems have more sophisticated graphics and computing power. That's how Jess Dols, a project engineer at EPRI, explained it.

Dols had the task of playing Madden 2011, a popular football game, on each system for an hour to let EPRI log their relative energy use.

EPRI said if the heaviest gamer plays about six hours a day over a year -- a figure found by Nielsen Co. in 2006 -- then his Wii would consume 29 kilowatt-hours, his Playstation 178 kWh, and his Xbox 360 184 kWh. A plasma TV, by comparison, averages 242 kWh a year.

That makes gaming a formidable energy user. U.S. homes have about 63 million video game consoles, and together they use about as much energy as San Diego does in a year, according to a 2008 study by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

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Scientific American
donk... donk... donk...

Puppy rescued from train track, frigid air; gets new home, name

One near victim of the cold is now happy and warm and residing in Bessemer [Alabama].

Last Saturday, Gary McLean, a track inspector for CSX Railroad, found and rescued a tiny shivering puppy who'd become frozen to the train tracks.

It was 7:30 a.m. and the temperature was about 14 degrees. McClean, a resident of the Trussville-Argo area, was riding in a rail mounted truck near Carolina Avenue looking for any obstacles in advance of a train that would be headed down that track about an hour later.

He heard something go bump on the track, stopped and looked back, but saw nothing. He turned forward and, ahead of him, he saw a tiny ball of fur on the tracks. McLean is accustomed to encountering dead dogs along the tracks, but as he got closer, he saw the little ball of fur moving.

"It was big time shivering," he said. "I felt so sorry for him."

Apparently, the 5-inch-tall mutt had gotten wet in a nearby ditch. When he tried to jump the 7-inch-tall rail, he got stuck and his icy fur froze to the track.

McLean tried applying warm water and lifting him off. That didn't work. So he took a knife and carefully cut him off the track.

If the train had come, the dog would never have been able to set himself free, McLean said.

McLean took pictures of the puppy and sent them to his wife, Lois.

The McLean's already have three dogs and couldn't adopt another. So they turned to the Internet to find the dog a home.

She posted the picture on Facebook and the story found its way to the blog of ABC 33/40 meteorologist James Spann. The e-mails started pouring in.

Sorting through the offers, the McLeans decided to give the dog to Terry Walls of Bessemer.

"He is doing great," Walls said as the puppy she's named Track chewed on her slipper.

"Track had a manly ring to it," she said.

Walls estimated the puppy is 7 or 8 weeks old. It has a full set of sharp teeth and has German Shepherd and possibly some husky in his ancestry., with more pictures
bh || stupid pills

Proposed Amendment Would Enable States to Repeal Federal Law

The same people driving the lawsuits that seek to dismantle the Obama administration’s health care overhaul have set their sights on an even bigger target: a constitutional amendment that would allow a vote of the states to overturn any act of Congress.

Under the proposed “repeal amendment,” any federal law or regulation could be repealed if the legislatures of two-thirds of the states voted to do so.

The idea has been propelled by the wave of Republican victories in the midterm elections. First promoted by Virginia lawmakers and Tea Party groups, it has the support of legislative leaders in 12 states. It also won the backing of the incoming House majority leader, Representative Eric Cantor, when it was introduced this month in Congress.

Like any constitutional amendment, it faces enormous hurdles: it must be approved by both chambers of Congress — requiring them to agree, in this case, to check their own power — and then by three-quarters of, or 38, state legislatures.

Still, the idea that the health care legislation was unconstitutional was dismissed as a fringe argument just six months ago — but last week, a federal judge agreed with that argument. Now, legal scholars are handicapping which Supreme Court justices will do the same.

The repeal amendment reflects a larger, growing debate about federal power at a time when the public’s approval of Congress is at a historic low. In the last several years, many states have passed so-called sovereignty resolutions, largely symbolic, aimed at nullifying federal laws they do not agree with, mostly on health care or gun control.

Tea Party groups and candidates have pushed for a repeal of the 17th Amendment, which took the power to elect United States senators out of the hands of state legislatures. And potential presidential candidates like Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin have tried to appeal to anger at Washington by talking about the importance of the 10th Amendment, which reserves for states any powers not explicitly granted to the federal government in the Constitution.

“Washington has grown far too large and has become far too intrusive, reaching into nearly every aspect of our lives,” Mr. Cantor said this month. “Massive expenditures like the stimulus, unconstitutional mandates like the takeover of health care and intrusions into the private sector like the auto bailouts have threatened the very core of the American free market. The repeal amendment would provide a check on the ever-expanding federal government, protect against Congressional overreach and get the government working for the people again, not the other way around.”

Randy E. Barnett, a law professor at Georgetown who helped draft the amendment, argued that it stood a better chance than others that have failed to win ratification. “This is something state legislatures have an interest in pursuing,” he said, “because it helps them fend off federal encroachment and gives them a seat at the table when Congress is proposing what to do.”

Professor Barnett, considered by many scholars to be the intellectual godfather of the argument that the health law is unconstitutional, first proposed the repeal amendment in a column published by in 2009.

Tea Party groups in Virginia contacted him. Virginia’s governor, attorney general and speaker of the House, all Republicans, then expressed their support. The speaker, William J. Howell, joined Professor Barnett in an op-ed article proposing the amendment in The Wall Street Journal in September.

Virginia was a particularly ripe place to start the argument. The attorney general, Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, was among the first attorneys general to try to overturn the federal health care law, filing a lawsuit minutes after President Obama signed the measure last spring.

Mr. Cuccinelli argued that the federal provision establishing a health insurance mandate was against a law the legislature had recently passed decreeing that no resident could be required to have health insurance. The judge who declared the mandate unconstitutional last week was ruling in that case.

This month, Mr. Cuccinelli wrote to the attorneys general of every state for their support of the repeal amendment.

The measure was introduced in the House by Representative Rob Bishop, Republican of Utah, who was a founder of the Western States Coalition, which advocates states’ rights.

Sanford V. Levinson, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Texas, called the proposal “a really terrible idea” because it would give the same weight to small states as it would to large ones, allowing those with a relatively small proportion of the national population to have outsize influence.

“There’s not the slightest chance it would get through Congress” or be ratified by the states, he said. “You can bet the ranch that there are enough state legislators in the large states who will not consider it a good idea to reinforce the power of small parochial rural states in which most Americans do not live.”

Even if it were approved, it would be extremely unlikely to have any practical effect, Professor Levinson said. “Any bill that can get through the byzantine, gridlocked process of being approved by two houses and the presidential signature is wildly unlikely to be opposed by two-thirds of the states,” he said.

Marianne Moran, a lawyer in Florida who runs, said that legislative leaders in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, South Carolina, Texas and Utah, as well as Virginia, were backing the amendment.

“Considering we’ve had 12 states get on board in the last two or three months that we’ve been pushing this, I think we’re getting some speed,” she said. “No amendment has ever been ratified without a broad national consensus — it’s an uphill battle — but we’ve done it 27 times as a country, and I think we can get enough states to agree.”

Proponents say their effort is not directed at any one law or set of laws. “Our desire is to have it in place so we can repeal as things come up,” Ms. Moran said. “What we’re trying to do is to draw a line in the sand saying the federal government has gone too far.”



Gunmen kill mother protesting over slain daughter

Outraged when judges freed the main suspect in her daughter's killing, Marisela Escobedo Ortiz launched a one-woman protest across from government offices in northern Mexico. Now she's dead too.

In a brazen killing caught on videotape, a gunman chased Escobedo and shot her at close range in front of the governor's office building in the capital of Chihuahua state.

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mus | like a bird in a cage

5 Ridiculous Things You Probably Believe About Islam

A conservative commentator recently made headlines by claiming 10 percent of all of the world's Muslims are terrorists. An amazing claim, considering that equals 150 million terrorists and if each were to pull off an attack killing just 40 people, they could exterminate all non-Muslim life on earth.

Either they're not all that dedicated to terrorism, or the claim is utter insanity.

Well, if there's one thing everyone thinks of when they hear "" it's "friend of Islam." Which is why we feel compelled to clarify a few misconceptions for our readers. Also, there is no way this article will ever come back to haunt us in any way.

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asoneill - Yahoo Me

Virginia to Block DADT Repeal?

The repeal of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy that bans openly gay men and women from serving in the military has cleared hurdles in the House and Senate, and President Barack Obama has said he will sign it.
It won't happen in Virginia if Del. Bob Marshall, (R-Prince William) has his way. He is drafting a bill for the 2011 legislative session that would ban gays from serving in the Virginia National Guard, according to the Washington Post.

"This policy will weaken military recruitment and retention, and will increase pressure for a military draft,'' Marshall told the Post. "After 232 years of prohibiting active, open homosexuals from enlisting in our military, President Obama and a majority in Congress are conducting a social experiment with our troops and our national security...In countries where religions and cultures find homosexual acts immoral, the Obama administration's repeal policy will work to the detriment of all American troops in securing local cooperation with our nation's foreign policy goals."

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Additional from the WaPo article:

"Marshall, who is considering running for U.S. Senate in 2012, is one of the House's most conservative members. He said Article 1, Section 8, Clause 16 of the Constitution gives Virginia the authority to uphold the ban by "reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress."


So, if the discipline prescribed by Congress includes allowing gays to serve openly, what exactly does his argument have to stand on? (Aside from douchbaggery and hatred, obvs) (And someone correct me if I'm wrong, I'm no Constitutional scholar.)

Also, Virginia, please stop making me embarassed to live there. Sigh.
*betty draper reading

Pro-life Reps balk at protecting children from forced marriage

FAILING TO PROTECT GIRLS FROM CHILD MARRIAGE.... As Jodi Jacobson explained the other day, "An estimated 60 million girls in developing countries now ages 20 to 24 were married before they reached the age of 18. The Population Council estimates that the number will increase by 100 million over the next decade if current trends continue." In many instances, girls are forced into marriage through force or coercion.

For about six years, policymakers in Washington have crafted efforts to use U.S. influence to combat this trend. The result is the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act. In the Senate, where obstructionism and gridlock are the norm, the bill was approved unanimously. In the House, the bill enjoyed the support of 112 co-sponsors, and it was expected to pass easily.

But House Republicans, in the 11th hour, balked. The bill was on the suspension calendar, so it needed a two-thirds majority to pass. On the floor, it had 241 supporters (nearly all of them Democrats), and 166 opponents (nearly all of them Republicans), which meant the legislation died.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the lead champion of the bill, noted in a statement that the House vote "will endanger the lives of millions of women and girls around the world. These young girls, enslaved in marriage, will be brutalized and many will die when their young bodies are torn apart while giving birth. Those who voted to continue this barbaric practice brought shame to Capitol Hill. "

How could this happen? The Washington Post's Conor Williams explains.

In the hours before the vote, Republicans circulated a memo to pro-life members of Congress alleging that the bill could fund abortions and use child marriage "to overturn pro-life laws." It also reiterated concerns over the bill's cost. When it came time for a vote, a number of the bill's pro-life supporters in both parties abandoned ship. Even co-sponsors of the corresponding House bill (H.R. 2103), like Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) and Lee Terry (R-Neb.), voted against it.

Time for the facts. First of all, S. 987 is short -- the body of the bill is around ten pages long -- and does not mention abortion ("family planning" isn't in there either). A quick read suffices to show that the bill is not dealing with abortion.

Second, as I noted yesterday, it does not appropriate any additional funding. It requires that the President and the State Department make child marriage a core part of American international development strategy. One more time: this means that this bill can't provide funding for abortion. It's not an appropriations bill. Nonetheless, some Republicans appear determined to showcase their conservative credentials at all costs -- even when the facts make it unnecessary, even when the world's most vulnerable children bear the bill.

At this point, the bill's future is uncertain, but the ongoing bizarre misrepresentation of a bill designed to empower young girls and women is the worst sort of political gamesmanship. Why play politics with their lives at stake?

It's hardly possible to think even less of House Republicans lately, but this really is tragic. They made up ridiculous arguments, shamelessly lied to members, and needlessly exploited culture-war divisions to kill a bill that should have been a no-brainer.

What is wrong with these people?

Also note, this is the House GOP caucus now. Next month, the caucus will be bigger, more right-wing, and far more powerful. This is the party the country rewarded last month.



A Gay Commander in Chief: Ready or Not?

Jimmy Carter is putting the out in outspokenness.

In an interview with, the former president was asked, “Is the country ready for a gay president?”

Even as John McCain and other ossified Republicans were staging last-minute maneuvers to torpedo the “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal, the 86-year-old Carter was envisioning a grander civil rights victory.

“I would say that the answer is yes,” he said. “I don’t know about the next election, but I think in the near future.”

The news that Leonardo DiCaprio and Armie Hammer will smooch in an upcoming movie about J. Edgar Hoover and his aide Clyde Tolson — buried near each other in the Congressional Cemetery on Capitol Hill — is a reminder of an “Advise and Consent” Washington where being a closeted gay official made you vulnerable to blackmail.

Others feel we’re not ready for a gay president, citing the fear and loathing unleashed by the election of the first black president. “Can you imagine how much a gay president would have to overcompensate to please the macho ninnies who control our national debate?” Bill Maher told me. “Women like Hillary have to do it, Obama had to do it because he’s black and liberal, but a gay president? He’d have to nuke something the first week.”

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Bone fragments found may belong to Amelia Earhart

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Three bone fragments found on a deserted South Pacific island are being tested to see if they are Amelia Earhart's – some 73 years after the famed aviator went missing while trying to circumnavigate the globe in her small aircraft.

University of Oklahoma scientists hope to extract DNA from three tiny bone chips found on Nikumaroro Island, several thousand miles south of Hawaii, and compare it to samples donated by an anonymous member of Earhart's family. The testing could take months to complete, ABC News reports.

Researchers have traveled 10 times to Nikumaroro since 1989 in an effort to determine what happened to Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, on their 1937 expedition – one of the great mysteries of the 20th century.

In 2007, they discovered personal items on Nikumaroro that may have belonged to Earhart, as well as the remains of a campsite, which suggests Earhart and Noonan could have survived a landing on the island and lived there briefly.
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This is pretty awesome!

Can Santa save Christmas in Washington?

I'm not a Christian, but like many Jews, I've envied Christmas since childhood. I like the twinkly lights, pink-cheeked carolers, heartwarming television specials, and exuberantly ho-ho-ho-ing Santa Clauses ... pretty much everything except the endless renditions of "Jingle Bells" warbling from every audio speaker in the country.

Most of all, I love the spirit of good will associated with Christmas -- smiles from strangers, charitable giving and other acts of kindness. We Jews have a holiday called Purim for spreading joy and charity, but Purim also involves raucously cheering the murder of 75,000 Persians, which is somewhat low on the good will meter.

In recent years, however, I've been dismayed that the Christmas spirit I admire has come under attack. Angry people have been exploiting the holiday as an opportunity to vilify their opponents. Vilifying opponents is also low on the good will meter, albeit not as low as murdering Persians.

In 2004, Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly launched the war on Christmas spirit when he declared that bad people whom he called "secular-progressives" were pressuring retail stores to use generic holiday greetings in their marketing campaigns. I can understand how O'Reilly might have been disturbed by the de-Christmastizing of Christmas, and I don't begrudge him his indignation, but the way he attacked those secular-progressives seemed very un-Christmas-like to a nice Jewish boy like me.

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  • luomo

Tea Party Nation Founder: Let's Get Rid Of The 'Socialist' Methodist Church

Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips has a dream: "No more Methodist Church."

A blog post on his Tea Party Nation page says that on Friday he walked by the United Methodist Building in Washington D.C., which had a sign that said, "Pass the DREAM Act." Phillips wrote: " I have a DREAM. That is, no more United Methodist Church."

Phillips explains that he was formerly a member of the church, but he left because it's "the first Church of Karl Marx," and "little more than the "religious" arm of socialism."

"The Methodist church is pro-illegal immigration," he continues. "They have been in the bag for socialist health care, going as far as sending out emails to their membership "debunking" the myths of Obamacare. Say, where are the liberal complaints on the separation of church and state?"

"In short, if you hate America, you have a great future in the Methodist church," he says.

Phillips has recently argued that it's a "wise idea" to only let property owners vote. He's also defended an email he wrote calling for supporters to help "retire" Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) because "he is the only Muslim member of congress."


Ukraine ex-PM Tymoshenko charged with misusing funds

The Ukrainian opposition leader, Yulia Tymoshenko, has been charged with misusing state funds while serving as prime minister, her spokeswoman says.

Ms Tymoshenko is suspected of misspending money Ukraine received from the selling of its carbon emission rights under the Kyoto protocol.

She has denied the allegations, saying she is being targeted for standing up to President Viktor Yanukovych.

Ms Tymoshenko lost the premiership in March following a no-confidence vote.

The motion was tabled in parliament a month after she lost narrowly to Mr Yanukovych in the presidential election run-off.

Ms Tymoshenko was one of the leaders of the 2004 "Orange Revolution", which saw Mr Yanukovich stripped of victory in the presidential election.
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movies | Impish Fräulein2

ONTD_Political's PotD: December 20, 2010.

Mount Merapi's eruptions | Since its initial eruptions on October 25th, Indonesia's Mount Merapi [spewed] hot gases and ash as far as 5,000 meters into the atmosphere, wreaking havoc on surrounding villages and farms, and disrupting air travel - and more than 140 people have been killed by the eruptions over [just those] two weeks. Hundreds of thousands of residents have been displaced, many of them living in temporary shelters until the Indonesian government reduces the existing 20 km "safe zone", and allows them and their livestock to return.
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...Just wanted to feature photography of a natural disaster that seemed generally neglected over the last 2 months. Will follow up with a related, less depressing picspam in a few hours.


Related gallery:

Latest Terror Threat in US Aimed to Poison Food

Exclusive: The Dept. of Homeland Security Uncovered a Plot to Attack Hotels and Restaurants Over a Single Weekend

(CBS) In this exclusive story, CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian reports the latest terror attack to America involves the possible use of poisons - simultaneous attacks targeting hotels and restaurants at many locations over a single weekend.

A key Intelligence source has confirmed the threat as "credible." Department of Homeland Security officials, along with members of the Department of Agriculture and the FDA, have briefed a small group of corporate security officers from the hotel and restaurant industries about it.

"We operate under the premise that individuals prepared to carry out terrorist acts are in this country," said Dec. of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano on Dec. 6, 2010.

The plot uncovered earlier this year is said to involve the use of two poisons - ricin and cyanide - slipped into salad bars and buffets.

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Mods: I forgot the source

Obama -- FCC Caves on Net Neutrality

Late Monday, a majority of the FCC's commissioners indicated that they're going to vote with Chairman Julius Genachowski for a toothless Net Neutrality rule.

According to all reports, the rule, which will be voted on during tomorrow's FCC meeting, falls drastically short of earlier pledges by President Obama and the FCC Chairman to protect the free and open Internet.

The rule is so riddled with loopholes that it's become clear that this FCC chairman crafted it with the sole purpose of winning the endorsement of AT&T and cable lobbyists, and not defending the interests of the tens of millions of Internet users.

Welcome to AT&T's Internet

For the first time in history of telecommunications law the FCC has given its stamp of approval to online discrimination.

Instead of a rule to protect Internet users' freedom to choose, the Commission has opened the door for broadband payola - letting phone and cable companies charge steep tolls to favor the content and services of a select group of corporate partners, relegating everyone else to the cyber-equivalent of a winding dirt road.
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Vince Cable: I could bring down the Government

Vince Cable has privately threatened to “bring the Government down” if he is “pushed too far” during fractious discussions with his Conservative colleagues, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

The Business Secretary also claims that David Cameron will seek to scrap or reduce the winter fuel allowance paid to pensioners from next year.

He believes that policies are being rushed through by the Conservatives and that ministers should be “putting a brake on” some proposals, which are in “danger of getting out of control”. Mr Cable says that, behind the scenes, the Tories and Liberal Democrats are fighting a “constant battle”, including over tax proposals. Likening the conflict to a war, he says he can always use the “nuclear option” of resignation. His departure from the Government would spell the end of the Coalition, he claims.

The disclosures emerged in a secret recording of a conversation Mr Cable had with two reporters from The Daily Telegraph posing as Lib Dem voters in his constituency.

They provide the first concrete evidence of the level of distrust and infighting taking place within the Coalition. His comments indicate that the public professions of support between the parties may not be a true reflection of what is occurring in Cabinet. Mr Cable has appeared uncomfortable in the Coalition and his comments will lead to speculation that he could be the first high-­profile member of the Government to quit.

Following divisions within the Lib Dems over the raising of tuition fees, this newspaper has begun an investigation into the party’s true feelings towards the Coalition and it discloses widespread unease.

Source: The Daily Telegraph

Because this is two stories for the price of one, and no-one's noticed this yet: The Business Secretary also claims that David Cameron will seek to scrap or reduce the winter fuel allowance paid to pensioners from next year.