EPA Shoots Down Lead Ammunition Ban

Some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Shot Down

An update to a story we told you about Friday -- the Environmental Protection Agency has shot down a petition from environmental groups to ban the use of lead in bullets and shotgun shells. The EPA says it "does not have the legal authority to regulate this product under the toxic substances control act -- nor is the agency seeking such authority."

Gun rights groups thought the ban was a thinly veiled attempt to undermine Second Amendment rights. NRA chief lobbyist Chris Cox said, "It's outrageous that this petition even went this far... we applaud the EPA for it's understanding of the law and its common-sense in this situation -- both of which were totally missing in the petition filed by these extreme anti-gun and anti-hunting groups."

Helping Hand

A record one-in-six Americans is now enrolled in some type of anti-poverty program.

USA Today notes more than 50 million Americans are on Medicaid, up 17 percent since the recession began; more than 40 million people get food stamps -- up 50 percent; nearly 10 million people receive unemployment insurance -- nearly quadruple the 2007 number; more than 4.4 million Americans are on welfare -- an 18 percent increase.

As you might expect, the cost of the federal programs has swelled as well. Medicaid's cost is up 36 percent to $273 billion; jobless benefits have risen from $43 billion to $160 billion; food stamps have gone up 80 percent to $70 billion, and welfare is up nearly 25 percent, to $22 billion.

Hard Copy

There's some question over whether the Oxford English Dictionary, which many people consider the definitive guide to the English language, may one day only be available online.

Oxford University Press chief executive Nigel Portwood told the Sunday Times that by the time they're finished updating the 1989 edition, there may not be a market for the sets. But today Oxford officials said they currently have no plans to abandon the print dictionary, now just under one-third-complete, and won't make a formal decision in the next decade.

The Oxford dictionary website gets 2 million hits a month from subscribers, whereas in the past 21 years some 30,000 sets have been sold at about $1,200 a pop.