Members of the Department of Homeland Security spoke yesterday at a congressional hearing on monitoring social media and news websites. The DHS representatives failed to give a straightforward answer regarding who ordered them to look for reports or comments that “reflect adversely on the U.S. government and the DHS.”

The hearing of the Homeland Security Committee's Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence was prompted by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) obtaining 3,000 documents through a Freedom of Information Act request. The FOIA request revealed that the DHS hired an outside contractor, General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, to monitor social media sites, in addition to other websites, on a “24/7/365” basis in order to discover “any media reports that reflect adversely on the U.S. Government and the Department of Homeland Security.”

The New Jersey state Assembly passed a same-sex marriage bill February 16 on a 42-33 vote, following the state Senate’s earlier 24-16 approval of the legislation, setting up what Gov. Chris Christie (left) has vowed will be a veto of the measure.

While no Republicans joined with Democrats in the Assembly to pass the legislation, on the Senate side two GOP lawmakers did vote in favor of homosexual marriage, and two Democrats voted against it. According to the New Jersey Star-Ledger, political observers predict that homosexual activists will have a difficult time garnering the nearly dozen additional votes they need to override Christie’s veto. They have until January 2014, when the legislative session ends, to do so.

Attorney Van Irion of the Liberty Legal Foundation (LLF) filed an appeal to a Georgia superior court to review and overturn the decision by Georgia’s Secretary of State Brian Kemp (left) to keep Barack Obama’s name on the state’s 2012 primary ballot. Irion claimed that Kemp’s decision was based on a faulty ruling by administration law Judge Michael Mahili who threw out testimonies presented by Irion and two other attorneys in a hearing on January 26th.

Attorneys for churches meeting in New York City public school buildings have won a court order barring the city from evicting the congregations for at least 10 days. The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), a conservative legal advocacy group representing the churches in Bronx Household of Faith v. Board of Education of the City of New York, said that it had succeeded in getting the restraining order while a U.S. District Court considers the constitutional arguments in the case. As reported earlier in The New American, the city’s school board had banned the longtime practice of allowing churches to rent space on weekends in school buildings that would otherwise sit vacant.

The Heritage Foundation reports that 20 percent of Americans receive some form of subsidy from the federal government. That means nearly 70 million Americans are on the dole, receiving housing, food, medical, or other assistance from the taxpayers, and well more than half the federal budget goes to direct assistance to individuals.

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