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MICHIGAN state Senate Majority Leader Rick Jones, a Republican, will introduce legislation aimed at stopping the use of welfare debit cards — called Bridge Cards in his state — to buy booze and to withdraw cash from ATMs at strip joints.

"My family takes in foster children," Jones told WWJ Newsradio in Lansing. "A number of them have been food-deprived because their parents use their Bridge Cards at ATMs to obtain drugs and


"I am shocked that anybody would take the cash portion that is meant to provide for children and use it in strip clubs and to buy booze," he said.

Nearly 20 percent of Michigan's population

receives welfare, or as it is formally known, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

That is the heart of the problem. The nation has too many people on welfare. What was meant as temporary aid has become a permanent way of life.

In the 1990s, a Republican Congress and a Democratic president ended welfare as we know it.

Nearly 20 years later, the welfare state is back. Things are so bad that some people expect taxpayers to provide them with strippers.

We must change that. Banning the use of welfare cards at ATMs inside liquor stores or strip joints is one place to start.

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WEST Virginians brace themselves for

the worst whenever someone publishes a list that ranks the states.

But when Bankrate Inc., a consumer financial

services company, listed the top 10 states in which to retire, West Virginia made the list and Florida did not.

The company, based in Florida, weighed the cost of living, taxes, access to health care, crime rates and climate.

West Virginia placed seventh among the 50 states.

The Mountain State made the list because of its low crime, a cheaper cost of living and above-average access to medical care," CNN reported. "Still, it has a colder climate than some of the other states."

West Virginia also isn't Tennessee, which topped the list. Chris Kahn, an analyst at Bankrate, cited that state's low taxes, low cost of living and great

access to health care. The one drawback is its rising crime rate.

West Virginia legislators cannot change the meteorological climate but they can change the business

climate by reducing taxes for everyone.


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A poll in March by the Pew Research Center found 56 percent of Americans believe the number of gun crimes is higher than it was two decades ago.

But a Bureau of Justice Statistics report showed that gun homicides fell 39 percent from 1993 to 2011, dropping from 18,253 in 1993 to 11,101 in 2011.

The gun homicide rate was nearly halved in that time dropping from 7 per 100,000 people in 1993 to 3.6 in 2011.

Non-fatal gun crimes fell by 70 percent in that time, dropping from 1.5 million gun crimes in 1993 to 467,300 in 2011.

The precipitous drop in gun crime and gun

murders is good news, and it's disturbing that so many Americans are out of touch with that.

It reflects poorly on American journalism. Perhaps we need fewer freeway chases and more unbiased information.

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GETTING kids who have difficulty reading to read aloud can be a challenge. Because they have difficulty reading, they don't want to do it, which is sad because they are the ones who most need to practice.

Enter Gingerbread the Shih tzu, a reading therapy dog owned by Jennifer Davies. When Gingerbread goes to the library, kids read to her.

"Most of our readers were excellent," Davies said, "but one boy struggled for every word. Gingerbread finally licked his ankle, and it was the first grin I saw since he'd picked up a book."

Gingerbread is one of three such dogs who listen to kids at public libraries in Martinsburg. They are part of a national volunteer program called Wags for HOPE, which also sends dogs to nursing homes,

assisted living facilities and hospices.

It's nice to live in a world where pet owners share with strangers the unconditional love their furry pals are so famous for. Government programs cannot

replace such voluntarism.



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