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Senators Jon Kyl and Orrin Hatch say you can’t expect the names of books you read to be private

In Thursday’s Senate Judiciary Committee’s markup of a bill to reauthorize the Patriot Act, Senator Patrick Leahy tried to insert an amendment. The amendment would allow the government to obtain records of book sales that do not meet the Constitution’s requirement that there be probable cause to believe the target has committed a crime. Instead, [...]

Intercessory Prayer Science Goes Quiet after Rejection of God Hypothesis

You may recall that a few years ago, there was a certain degree of excitement in some religious circles over the imminent publication of research findings regarding the effect of “intercessory prayer” (prayer at a distance) on health. The God Hypothesis, popular in a number of religious communities, predicts that people praying at a distance [...]

Orrin Hatch Opens the Door for Big Government Pasta Faith Healing Program

The Washington Post reports that Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah is pushing hard to get a provision included that would mandate insurance coverage for remote faith healing. Dial-a-prayer hotlines to which people make calls and (for a fee, of course) arrange for distant intercessory prayers to heal the sick would be reimbursed for this “spiritual [...]

Democrats Join Republicans To Defeat Health Care Reform

The 5 Democrats who defected to the Republican side to defeat Obama’s public option are: Max Baucus, Blanche Lincoln, Kent Conrad, Bill Nelson and Tom Carper. [...]

GOP Senators Warn Interrogators Cannot Be Accountable To The Law

The Republican senators who wrote to Eric Holder suggest that CIA interrogators ought to be able to engage in torture and other forms of brutality, breaking the law, without worrying about being held accountable. They propose that the CIA be allowed to operate as a criminal organization that no one has the power to restrain. [...]

Senate Quietly and Unanimously Passes Legislation Preventing Changes to FISA Amendments Act or Patriot Act

Last June, the U.S. Senate was poised to pass the FISA Amendments Act (full text here) — a bill that made permanent the warrantless surveillance system enacted by 2007’s Protect America Act, adding on legal immunity for any past spying on Americans without a warrant. In the course of considering the FISA Amendments Act, a [...]