Idaho Republican Congressman Raul Labrador wrapped up his first term in office the same way he started: by appearing on a Sunday morning news talk show.
In January 2010, the freshman lawmaker first appeared on NBC's Meet the Press, the first of four visits to the program. And this morning, Labrador showed up on ABC's This Week With George Stephanopoulos (though ABC's Jonathan Karl was sitting in for Stephanopoulos today). This was Labrador's second visit to the ABC studios.
When asked about division within his own party, keeping a House deal out of reach, Labrador blamed Democrats.
"This is what the Democrats have wanted to do from day one," said Labrador. "They have tried to divide the Republicans to fight each other on taxes. I'm not sure they don't want to go over the fiscal cliff."
And the GOP congressman continued to pile on.
"Democrats are like bank robbers," said Labrador. "The money is not in the 2 percent. It's in the 100 pecent. [Democrats] want to raise taxes on everyone."
And when Karl challenged the congressman, saying, "You're not willing to compromise at all," Labrador fired back.
"I'm willing to compromise if we have cuts," he said. "In Washington, we talk about raising taxes today and we talk about making cuts 10 years from now. It happened under Reagan. It happened under Bush, and it's going to happen to us once again."
Idaho's sixth-highest suicide rate in the nation is directly tied to access to firearms.
This morning's Twin Falls Times-News reports that in 2010, of the 199 Idahoans who were killed by a firearm, 183 of those victims pulled the trigger on themselves. Of all suicides reported in the Gem State, 63 percent involved a firearm. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare tracks the statistics, which led the Suicide Prevention Action Network to conclude that Idaho had the sixth-highest suicide rate in the U.S. in 2011.
Ross Edmunds, division administrator for behavioral health at the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, told the Times-News that education "rather than a banket ban on guns" could help lower the gun death rate.
"We live in Idaho and in Idaho, we take our gun ownership seriously," Edmunds told the Times-News.
Lt. Kevin Haight of the Idaho State Police added, "Idaho is a Western, rural state and it is common and normal to encounter law-abiding citizens with a concealed weapons permit. The overwhelming number of people are not a problem."If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or suicidal crisis, call 1-800-273-TALK.
So, if President Barack Obama didn't call an Idaho Falls teacher this month, who did call? Or was the call fabricated?
When Skyline High School teacher Julie Narwrocki returns to her classroom this coming week following the holiday break, she'll face a lot of questions in the wake of an Associated Press report that disputes her claim that Obama called her personally on Dec. 19.
Nawrocki told the Idaho Falls Post Register that the president asked her to participate in a strategy-building session for new math testing standards.
But the AP reports that the U.S. Department of Education spokesman Daren Briscoe says the White House "confirmed the president did not call Nawrocki."
The AP says that the Idaho Falls School District, which widely publicized the alleged incident, is investigating the matter.
In a text message to Idaho Falls KIFI-TV, Nawrocki said she was the victim:
"Unfortunately, I was the victim of a scam concerning my ... nomination. I am sorry that someone used what is a great opportunity and honor to hurt and embarrass not only me, but my school and district."
During the past two years, more than 177,000 acres of Montana ranch land have been quickly snapped up by private interests. But that's in addition to the approximately 100,000 acres that had been previously sold. In all, that's more than 276,000 acres—431 square miles in eastern Montana and it's all owned by two Texas brothers.
The Billings Gazette reports that billionaires Farris Wilks and Dan Wilks even own more land than media mogul Ted Turner, who has 148,000 acres in Montana holdings.
Forbes magazine reports that a spokesperson for the Wilks Brothers said they "like to spend their spare time hunting and fly fishing," and that their ranch properties "are used for farming, ranching and wildlife management."
The Wilks amassed their fortunes by selling their oil-industry business Frac Tech in 2002, netting $3.2 billion, putting them on Forbes list of little-known billionaires, ranking them 312 out of 400.
And yes, Frac Tech is all about fracking, the controversial method of injecting high-pressured fluids and solids into the ground in order to enhance flows of oil and gas.
The Billings Gazette reports that the Wilks brothers have also snapped up land in Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas and their home state of Texas.
Thousands of smokers will again try to kick the habit as part of their New Year's resolutions for 2013, and a startling ad campaign in Britain is hoping to give smokers one more reason to quit. The campaign's visceral message suggests that the human body creates a mutation with every 15 cigarettes smoked.
The ads show a man smoking in his back yard while sipping his morning coffee. A pink, fleshy cancerous tumor bubbles from his cigarette with each drag.
More than a third of smokers still believe the health risks from smoking are greatly exaggerated, recent statistics from the U.K.'s Department of Health showed.
Take a look at what will be filling the British airwaves as part of the nine-week campaign that launched Dec. 28.
It's a fair assumption that a trio of Idaho men didn't take an IQ test before trying to start a fire using explosives.
This morning's Coeur d'Alene Press reports that 20-year-old Dylan Dodd and 23-year-old Alex Encinas were both rushed to the Kootenai Medical Center after they, and a third man, tried to start a fire after spending most of the day on Dec. 28 at the Hayden Creek shooting pit.
But they made the near fatal mistake of using some of their leftover exploding target material as an accelerant.
"When Dodd neared the fire with the material, which was contained in a bag, the material exploded, severely injuring Dodd's right hand. Encinas also suffered lower body injuries," according to a release from the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office.
A scathing column republished by the Tucson Journal on Dec. 27 has some choice words for Idaho, Republican Sen. Mike Crapo, and particularly the Idaho Statesman.
"Now I have some idea how Idaho comes to send us the senators they do, with newspapers like this helping to shape public opinion," wrote David Hall on his Liberty Musings Blog, aggregated by the Journal, which publishes a series of political blogs on the newspaper's website.
Hall takes the Statesman to task for its editorial, which came quickly on the heels of Crapo's drunken driving arrest in a Washington, D.C., suburb on Dec. 23.
"What happened to [Crapo] ... can happen to a lot of people, especially during the holiday season," wrote the Statesman. "Maybe he did't realize he had too much to drink when he left the social event."
But Hall lambasted the Statesman's editorial team:
"Mr. Editor, I can’t believe that you don’t see the story here. I think you’re purposely ignoring it and trying to spin this as best you can. This is not about a lapse in judgment of one drink too many on one night. You have to know that. This is about a man who has claimed to be a faithful Mormon and is not. This is a United States senator who has been living a lie for we don’t know how long. The senator is corrupt, and you are complicit by trying to sweep it under the rug.
I say this as one who has much in common with Sen. Crapo. I, too, am an LDS high priest. I am also a Republican. But I recognize that there have always been hypocrites in the Church, some of whom have risen, at times, to high position. This is why I do not automatically support LDS candidates, unlike many of my fellow Mormons. And there are many Republicans who lack integrity also. I would like to clean as many of them out of the Republican Party as we can, at least clean them out of public office. The country would be much better off."
Wikipedia's most viewed articles of 2012 may surprise you. Maybe not.
Facebook, One Direction, Wiki, Deaths in 2012, and The Avengers top the most viewed pages on Wikipedia's English version this year.
Swedish software engineer Johan Gunnarsson published the Top 10 lists not only for English, but also for German, Japanese, Dutch, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic and Polish (all in their native languages).
On the English Wikipedia, Facebook was the most viewed page, with 32.5 million views, according to the Philadelphia Enquirer.
Here is the Top 10 list:
3. Deaths in 2012
4. One Direction
5. The Avengers
6. Fifty Shades of Grey
7. 2012 phenomenon
8. The Dark Knight Rises
10. The Hunger Games
While Facebook topped the English edition, an entry for an adult video actresses was the No. 1 entry for Japan, German's searched for cul-de-sacs, and Hua Shan, the world's deadliest hiking trail in China, got the most views on the Dutch site.
A tribal elder, remembered by Coeur d'Alene Native Americans as "one of our last storytellers," was honored and laid to rest Dec. 28.
The Associated Press reports that 67-year-old Clifford J. SiJohn died Dec. 24 in Coeur d'Alene. SiJohn "worked to preserve the [Coeur d'Alene Tribe's] customs and cultural heritage," according to the AP.
Tribe Chairman Chief Allan told the Spokesman Review that the tribe was "thankful for SiJohn's efforts to preserve and share their culture with the world."
SiJohn was a Vietnam War veteran, a former police detective, and an employee of the Bureau of Indian Affairs before his work as cultural awareness director for the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, beginning in 1985.
2012 can't end soon enough for independent liquor stores in Washington state, hoping that their state's legislators can come to their rescue in 2013.
After watching their state hand the reins of liquor sales over to private companies seven months ago, independent retailers say state fees have eroded their profit margins and ultimately increased the price of booze.
This morning's Tri-City Herald reports that regional storeowners are considering closing their doors if changes aren't made soon.
Additionally, mom and pop liquor retailers say big box stores—such as Costco—are eligible "for quanitity discounts under Initiative 1183 that smaller stores don't qualify for, making it harder to compete with chain grocery stores and pharmacies."
Initiative 1183, approved by Washington voters in 2011 and effective in June of this year, added a 10 percent fee on distributors and a 17 percent fee on retailers in the place of a state markup that Washington used to slap on liquor sales. But the new fees are in addition to the already existing 20.6 percent Washington sales tax and liter tax.
The Herald reports that about 60 small Washington stores have already shut down or never reopened because of the change. Another 20-30 small stores might close in the coming months, according to one retailer.