Friday, May 24, 2013

Questions About Apple’s Tax Strategy Highlight Risks of a Territorial Tax System

U.S. corporations have lobbied aggressively in recent years for both a temporary tax holiday under which they would bring their foreign profits back to the United States and pay a much lower tax on them, as well as a permanent exemption of foreign profits from U.S. taxes (known as a "territorial" system).  This week's headlines about Apple's reported use of offshore subsidiaries to lessen its U.S. tax bill have renewed the debate over these flawed ideas.

Multinational companies like Apple currently have a strong incentive to defer U.S. corporate taxes by shifting and keeping profits overseas (see chart).  As we've explained, a territorial system would create greater incentives for those companies to invest and book profits overseas rather than at home — and that, in turn, risks reducing wages at home by encouraging investment to flow overseas, increasing budget deficits by draining revenues from the corporate income tax, or raising taxes on smaller companies and domestic businesses to offset the revenue loss.

Now, policymakers have begun to focus on the issue.  The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has issued a report that highlights the tax planning gymnastics that companies undertake to shift profits to overseas tax havens in order to avoid U.S. taxes.

Armed with more information about how these incentives are creating unfair advantages for multinationals and draining much-needed tax revenue, the President and Congress should resist the lobbying campaign and instead focus on reducing the incentive to shift profits and operations overseas.


Oregon Police Could Not Rescue Woman From Rape Due to Budget Cuts

Budget cuts have had tragic consequences in the state of Oregon, where a woman stayed on the line with 911 for more than 10 minutes as her ex-boyfriend attempted to break into her home. She was told there was no one to send from either the Josephine County Sheriff's office or the Oregon State Police. The man eventually got inside the house, and the woman was raped.

The Sheriff's Department in Josephine County lost more than half of its funding when public safety budgets were cut. The cuts were a byproduct of government timber payments to counties with large national forests ending.

"There isn't a day go by that we don't have another victim," said Josephine County Sheriff Gil Gilbertson.

In Josephine County, 80 percent of sheriff's deputies lost their jobs when the cuts were made. The few that remain cannot respond to emergency calls during the evening or on weekends.

The sexual assault victim described above, who was not unidentified, called 911 last August. It was 4:15 a.m. on a Saturday when her ex-boyfriend, who was wanted by police for parole violations, attempted to break into her home. Her call was transfered to the Oregon State Police because there were no deputies on duty.

The dispatcher told the woman, "You know, obviously if he comes inside the residence and assaults you, can you ask him to go away? Or do you know if he's intoxicated or anything?"

"I've already asked him," the caller said. She told the dispatcher that he had hurt her in the past.

Four times the dispatcher tells her there is no one she can send to help.

The victim's ex-boyfriend, Michael Bellah, ultimately pried open her front door with a piece of metal and attacked her. Eventually, he was arrested by state police. Bellah pleaded guilty to sexual assault, sodomy and other charges.

"There's absolutely no consequences to committing a crime today given the fact that law enforcement is as weak as it is," said Sheriff Gilbertson.

After budget cuts went into effect, Gilbertson issued a press release telling domestic violence victims to "consider relocating to an area with adequate law enforcement services."

Chris Mallette, who provides, social services and counseling to victims of domestic violence and rape, said many woman choose to stay with their abusers because law enforcement cannot help them.

"The whole system has crumbled, and we're the only ones left. And we don't have the badge, and we don't have the gun," Mallette said. "Because they're more likely to get killed if they leave, and when they know that there's not going to be a police response, they are a lot less likely to take those steps."

Sources: NPR, India Today


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Apple's Tax Hypocrisy - avoids US taxes then complains our schools are lousy

it's remarkable how quickly the storm of outrage over Apple's epic tax avoidance has passed over Washington. All it took was for Apple CEO Tim Cook (2011 compensation: $378 million) to share some yuks with senators about their love for his company's products ("I love Apple. I love Apple," enthused Claire McCaskill) and to cast Apple's extreme measures to avoid taxes (paying not a cent on $30 billion in global profits parked in an Irish subsidiary that has as much physical reality as a leprechaun) as a mere matter of subjective perspective: "The way that I look at this is there's no shifting going on that I see at all," Cook told John McCain. "I see this differently than you do, I believe."

There's one aspect of the Apple tax avoidance that I'm particularly surprised has been allowed to slip unscrutinized. As you're probably aware, the Silicon Valley giants have been in Washington a lot of late for something other than explaining the postmodern relativism of tax liability: to lobby for immigration reform. They're interested, in particular, in greatly expanding the number of H-1B visas, which Apple, Google, Facebook and the rest of the tech behemoths rely on to hire foreign software engineers. They need to bring these workers over from India, China and elsewhere, the companies say, because there simply aren't enough qualified native ones being trained here at home. One of the biggest champions of this demand was none other than Steve Jobs, Cook's predecessor, who made the pitch directly to President Obama in 2011. Sometimes, the companies phrase it euphemistically: The lack of H-1B visas, Google's public policy shop explains, is "preventing tech companies from recruiting some of the world's brightest minds." Mark Zuckerberg was slightly more candid in his big Washington Post op-ed, throwing his weight behind immigration reform: "To lead the world in this new economy, we need the most talented and hardest-working people" (you hear that, Middle America?) And sometimes it comes out just plain awkward: "There are simply more smart Indians and Chinese than there are Americans," Google CEO Eric Schmidt said over the weekend on CNN. (Yes, he is of course literally correct, sample size and all—there are more dumb people over there too!—but still…)


Ohio @GOP reconsiders bill to curb student voting becasue it would cost lots of $ & it would make more students vote

Ohio's House Republicans last month passed a bill that would punish universities if they help students vote. Included in the regular budget, the proposal would force universities to charge out-of-state students the lower in-state tuition rate if the universities give the students a letter or utility bill proving they live at school. Ohio universities say that would cost them as much as $370 million each year.

To which Ohio's House Speaker responded, verbatim, "That's a rather gigantic amount of money, and I just couldn't respond to it. I don't know what to say." 

Meanwhile Republicans in the Ohio Senate have desperately been trying to slam the brakes on their colleagues' plan. For one thing, $370 million is truly a gigantic amount of money. For another, the House Republicans would create an incentive for more students to register to vote, and students tend to vote Democratic. It seems that Ohio's House Republicans had not thought about that part, either. From a Cincinnati Enquirer editorial:

Backers of the bill say they are rethinking the proposal because they hadn't considered the unintended consequences.

So it never occurred to them that making it easier for out-of-state students to get the lower in-state tuition rate -- indeed, requiring it if they want to vote here -- would not turn them away from voting but might in fact encourage them to vote, precisely to obtain the lower rate?


@gop @speakerboehner The One Video That Conservatives Hope You Don't Click On Today

It's something that'd be really good for the economy and families, but the GOP hopes you're not paying much attention to so they can weaken or stop it. WATCH:

After you've watched the video, call 202-224-3121 and let your senators know you want them to support immigration reform.

A Cuéntame and MoveOn original production.

Tesla Repays Department of Energy Loan Nine Years Early


Only American Car Company to Have Paid Back Government

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

PALO ALTO, Calif.-- Tesla Motors announced that it has paid off the entire loan awarded to the company by the Department of Energy in 2010. In addition to payments made in 2012 and Q1 2013, today's wire of almost half a billion dollars ($451.8M) repays the full loan facility with interest. Following this payment, Tesla will be the only American car company to have fully repaid the government.

For the first seven years since its founding in 2003, Tesla was funded entirely with private funds, led by Elon Musk. Tesla brought its Roadster sports car to market with a 30% gross margin, designed electric powertrains for Daimler (Mercedes) and had done preliminary design of the Model S all before receiving a government loan.

In 2010, Tesla was awarded a milestone-based loan, requiring matching private capital obtained via public offering, by the DOE as part of the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program. This program was signed into law by President Bush in 2008 and then awarded under the Obama administration in the years that followed. This program is often confused with the financial bailouts provided to the then bankrupt GM and Chrysler, who were ineligible for the ATVM program, because a requirement of that program was good financial health.

The loan payment was made today using a portion of the approximately $1 billion in funds raised in last week's concurrent offerings of common stock and convertible senior notes. Elon Musk, Tesla's Chief Executive Officer and cofounder, purchased $100 million of common equity, the least secure portion of the offering. "I would like to thank the Department of Energy and the members of Congress and their staffs that worked hard to create the ATVM program, and particularly the American taxpayer from whom these funds originate," said Elon Musk. "I hope we did you proud."

About Tesla

Tesla Motors' (NASDAQ: TSLA) goal is to accelerate the world's transition to electric mobility with a full range of increasingly affordable electric cars. California-based Tesla designs and manufactures EVs, as well as EV powertrain components for partners such as Toyota and Daimler. Tesla has delivered more than 10,000 electric vehicles to customers in 31 countries.

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Shocking Before And After Pictures Of How Climate Change Is Destroying The Earth


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

.@TomCoburn same senator that cut disaster aid to OK says SS and medicare are not needed

this guy is a doucebag!

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) is encouraging Democrats to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits because the programs are "things we don't absolutely need."

Speaking to ABC's George Stephanopolous on Sunday about the so-called fiscal cliff, Coburn said that he would be willing to accept tax hikes for the top 2 percent of earners if Democrats and President Barack Obama agreed to reform Social Security and Medicare.

The ABC host pointed out that Obama's health care reform law had already achieved about $716 billion in Medicare savings and many Republicans — including former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney — ran against those cuts.

"The $700 billion in savings doesn't save the government a penny because what it does is takes that $700 billion and spends it on other people," Coburn insisted. "We've seen the president demand that we're going to solve 7 percent of this problem [with tax hikes on the rich] but he's totally inflexible on the other 93 percent."

"It doesn't really matter what happens at the end of this year because ultimately the numbers and the bond holders throughout the world will determine what we'll spend and what we won't. So, we can play the political game that is being played out in Washington right now or we can be absolutely honest with the American people and say, 'Medicare is going bankrupt, Social Security disability will be bankrupt in two years, Social Security trust fund will be bankrupt in five years, Social Security total will be bankrupt in 16,17 years.'"

"The fact is we are spending money we don't have on things we don't absolutely need," he concluded. "And there's no grownups in Washington that will say, 'Timeout, stop the politics, let's have a compromise rather than play the game through the press and hurt the country.' We're already going to get another debt downgrade just from what's happening now because nobody in positions of power are willing to do what's important and necessary for our country."

Watch this video from ABC's This Week, broadcast Dec. 9, 2012.


How To Help Oklahoma After Tornado Devastates Area

A massive tornado touched down Monday in Moore, Okla., near Oklahoma City, leveling the area to little more than debris.

According to the Associated Press, dozens of deaths were reported by the state medical examiner's office.

"Hearts are broken" for parents looking for their children, Gov. Mary Fallin told a news conference, the AP reported.

Aerial views show rampant fires, crushed cars and buildings in ruins. Two elementary schools were heavily damaged, according to KFOR.

NBC reported that 200 people with minor injuries were being treated at a triage center. "Some are more grotesque," Oklahoma Highway Patrol spokeswoman Betsy Randolph said of the injuries.

The devastating twister comes in the wake of tornadoes and powerful storms throughout the Midwest Sunday and Monday.

The storm is in the near vicinity of where a previous twister hit May 3, 1999, which carried record-setting winds, the Associated Press reported.

How To Help: (This is a developing list. Please check back for updates.)

The Oklahoma City Red Cross will open shelters as first responders assess damage. The organization says in the immediate aftermath, the best way to help is to donate at or text REDCROSS to 90999.

The Salvation Army has mobilized a number of emergency relief services in Oklahoma, including Moore, to dispense food, hydration and emotional support to first responders and survivors. Donate online or text STORM to 80888 to contribute $10 to the Salvation Army's relief efforts or make a donation via phone at 1-800-SAL-ARMY.

Samaritan's Purse, a nonprofit that fights poverty, has sent a disaster relief unit and staff to help people affected by the tornadoes in Oklahoma City. Find out how you can support the organization's efforts here.

Operation USA will work with Oklahoma's impacted community clinics and hospitals to help replace lost equipment and supplies as well as make grants to the extent of available funds from the public to help replace health resources lost. Learn more here.

Feeding America will deliver truckloads of food, water and supplies to impacted areas through its network of more than 200 food banks and 61,000 agencies. The organization's food banks will also set up additional dropoff sites. Learn more here.

Team Rubicon, a nonprofit that deploys military veterans to respond to disasters, is sending teams to help with assessment and home repair. Learn more here.

RYOT, an online advocacy site, is collecting donations and will waive all processing fees so that victims receive 100 percent of donation amounts. Learn more here.

Save the Children's U.S. emergency response team will deploy Child Friendly Space kits in shelters, helping to create a safe and secure atmosphere for displaced kids. The organization is also prepared to deploy infant and toddler hygiene materials, as it has for past disasters such as the tornado that struck Joplin, Mo.

Txt TWISTER to 20222 to donate $10 or donate online.


Will Oklahoma Senators Jim Inhofe, Tom Coburn Change Their Tune About Federal Disaster Relief?

Oklahoma Sens. James Inhofe and Tom Coburn have long records of opposing disaster relief for other parts of the country, as well as blocking increased funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It remains to be seen if the Republican senators will change their minds in the wake of a massive tornado that killed at least 51 people, including 20 children, outside of Oklahoma City on Monday afternoon.

In 2012, Inhofe and Coburn supported a plan to slash federal aid for victims of Hurricane Sandy from $60.4 billion to $23.8 billion. Inhofe called the original amount a "slush fund."

"We don't have time right now to get all the way through and analyze the actual losses that were attributable to Sandy," Inhofe said.

When FEMA was running out of money in 2011, both senators opposed legislation that would save the agency, calling it "unconscionable."

Oklahoma ranks third in the country, behind Texas and California, in terms of declaration for fire and federal disaster relief. Last month, President Barack Obama signed a disaster declaration following severe snowstorms that affected 17 Oklahoma counties at the end of February.

A spokesman for Coburn, John Hart, said the senator would make sure that any funding received for the tornado relief is offset by cuts elsewhere in the budget.

"That's always been his position [to offset disaster aid]," Hart said. "He supported offsets to the bill funding the [Oklahoma City] bombing recovery effort."

He noted that Coburn, "makes no apologies for voting against disaster aid bills that are often poorly conceived and used to finance priorities that have little to do with disasters."

A two-mile wide tornado plowed through Newcastle, Moore and South Oklahoma City yesterday. With winds of 200 mph it leveled schools and entire neighborhoods. There are no estimates for the monetary cost of the damage yet. In 1999, after a series of deadly tornadoes, the state asked for and received $67.8 million in federal disaster relief.

Sen. Inhofe is reknowned for his stance against global warming, which he believes is a "hoax" propagated by Al Gore, the United Nations, the Hollywood elite,, Michael Moore, George Soros, "and a few others."

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., chastised the GOP Monday after news of the Oklahoma tornado broke. He said climate change denial affects the entire nation.


Medical Firm Sues IRS For 4th Amendment Violation In Records Seizure



A healthcare provider has sued the Internal Revenue Service and 15 of its agents, charging they wrongfully seized 60 million medical records from 10 million Americans.

The name of the provider is not yet known, United Press International said. But Courthouse News Service said the suit claims the agency violated the Fourth Amendment in 2011, when agents executed a search warrant for financial data on one employee – and that led to the seizure of information on 10 million, including state judges.

The search warrant did not specify that the IRS could take medical information, UPI said. And information technology officials warned the IRS about the potential to violate medical privacy laws before agents executed the warrant, the complaint said, as reported by UPI.

"Despite knowing that these medical records were not within the scope of the warrant, defendants threatened to 'rip' the servers containing the medical data out of the building if IT personnel would not voluntarily hand them over," the complaint states, UPI reported.

 The suit also says IRS agents seized workers' phones and telephone data – more violations of the warrant, UPI reported.

 The complaint alleges the IRS was "invasive and unlawful" and stole access to intimate medical records that included patients' treatment plans and therapies, UPI said.

 The suit seeks $25,000 in compensatory damages, per violation. The records' seizure could impact up to one in 25 Americans, UPI said.


despicable: @barackobama US military continues to abuse and abandon wounded soldiers @USArmy

In 2010, The New York Times uncovered systemic abuse within units meant to help wounded Army soldiers transition through months-and-years-long treatment and rehabilitation. Today, The Colorado Springs Gazette has a profile about one of the soldiers who stood up for Warrior Transition Units back then. The abuses exposed by the Times weren't fixed and Jerrald Jensen ended up becoming a victim himself. After questioning the mistreatment in the system, he was nearly given a less-than-honorable discharge, which would have cost him long-term Veteran's benefits — a pattern that the Gazette has found happening over and over among the most-vulnerable wounded Army men and women who need the most care in order to rehabilitate from their service injuries. The treatment described here is disgusting, all the more so when you compare it to Jensen's service in Iraq and Afghanistan. Exposing this kind of crap is why journalism exists.



Left Behind No break for the wounded

A roadside bomb hit Sgt. Jerrald Jensen's Humvee in Iraq, punching through heavy armor and shooting a chunk of hot metal into his head at several times the speed of sound, shattering his face and putting him in a coma. "I wasn't supposed to live," the veteran lisped with half a tongue through numb lips. "No one knows why I did. It's shocking." Even more shocking is what Jensen did next. After 16 surgeries, the sergeant volunteered to go back to combat in one of the most savage corners of Afghanistan, where he was injured again. Perhaps most shocking, though, is what happened when he got home.

Jensen returned to recover in a battalion at Fort Carson designed to care for wounded soldiers called the Warrior Transition Unit. In the WTU, the soldier with a heroic record said he encountered a hostile environment where commanders, some of whom had never deployed, harassed and punished the wounded for the slightest misstep while making them wait many weeks for critical medical care and sometimes canceling care altogether.

In 2011, a year after joining the WTU, just days after coming out of a surgery, Jensen tested positive for the drug amphetamine. The then-41-year-old asked to be retested, suggesting his many Army prescriptions might be to blame. His commander refused and instead gave Jensen the maximum punishment, cutting his rank to private, docking his pay and canceling surgery to fix his face so he could spend weeks mopping floors, picking weeds and scrubbing toilets.

Then, Jensen said, WTU leaders said he should be discharged for misconduct — the equivalent of getting fired — with an other-than-honorable rating that could bar him from medical benefits for life.

Jerrald Jensen drives to Walmart to get chicken and rice for dinner. Because of his injury he can eat only soft foods.

Michael Ciaglo / The Gazette

"To call guys who sacrificed so much dishonorable and kick them out with nothing?" said Jensen, who is now out of the Army, living in a small apartment with blankets covering the windows because his injuries make him sensitive to light. "Christ sake, man, it is a disgrace."

With troops going back and forth between duty stateside and in war zones during multiple deployments, disciplinary regulations designed for more conventional wars of the past increasingly are snaring troops. A Gazette investigation shows that after a decade of war, the Army is discharging more soldiers for misconduct every year. The number kicked out Army-wide annually has increased 60 percent since 2006.

Sunday, The Gazette detailed how some of the discharged have invisible wounds of traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder but are kicked out anyway. The factors driving the surge in discharges include a lack of objective tests for those invisible injuries; the need to shrink the force by at least 80,000 by 2017; and Army systems that make combat units wait months or years for replacements for the wounded, turning injured soldiers into a burden and giving low-level leaders incentive to get rid of them.

"At a policy level the Army is saying it takes care of these guys but at a command level it is not happening," said Lenore Warger, a counselor who has worked with discharged soldiers for 12 years at the veterans rights organization The Quaker House near Fort Bragg in North Carolina. "Oftentimes guys with PTSD or TBI are shunned. Instead of being cared for they are marginalized."

More than 13,000 soldiers were discharged for misconduct from the Army in 2012, records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show. Army leaders contend that caring for soldiers is a top priority and no one is unduly punished. But the Army does not track how many of the discharged were also injured.

A struggle for justice

Jerrald Jensen holds a rocket-propelled grenade launcher at his outpost in Afghanistan in 2009. He deployed to Afghanistan after being Injured in Iraq.

Courtesy Jerrald Jensen

Jensen's saga shows that in the recent surge of misconduct discharges, wounded soldiers are targeted even when injuries are obvious, conduct is heroic, alleged misconduct is relatively minor, and the unit punishing them is designed to help troops heal.

"If it can happen to me, it can happen to anybody," Jensen said.

The Army refused multiple requests to comment on Jensen's case.

Army regulations allow soldiers to be discharged for any number of infractions, from drug use to disrespect to showing up late too often. Ultimately, the commanding general of each post decides who is punished and who is spared.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Army considers soldiers' entire records, as well as their physical and mental conditions, in a discharge. "In short, each case is considered individually and judged on its merits," he said in an email.

At Fort Carson, discharge data obtained by The Gazette shows few of the wounded are spared. Of the 41 Fort Carson soldiers designated as wounded (those in the medical discharge process) who were targeted for a misconduct discharge in 2012, 80 percent were cut loose.

In the WTU, where soldiers by definition have complex medical issues, the rate of discharge was just as high. Of the five soldiers up for punishment, all but one were kicked out.

In 2011, it was even more harsh. Of four WTU soldiers targeted for misconduct, all were kicked out.

The Fort Carson figures do not account for the unknown number of soldiers with PTSD or TBI who are not in the medical discharge process or the WTU. The Army said it does not track the number of wounded soldiers kicked out for misconduct.

Maj. Gen. Joseph Anderson, who commanded Fort Carson from November 2011 until mid-March and is slated to become commander of Fort Bragg this summer, said discipline must be strictly enforced, even when soldiers are hurt.

Jerrald Jensen

Wounded soldiers not being cared for

Michael Ciaglo / The Gazette

"You are still a soldier until you take the uniform off," he said. "So you cut your hair, you don't smoke pot, you take care of yourself, you don't tell people to F off, you don't get DUIs, you don't go smoke spice."

Jensen agreed but said when some soldiers struggle from injuries sustained while serving, the country should not abandon them.

"We are not asking for much. The Army owes us what we owe the Army. Fulfill the contract. Simple as that," he said. "We went over there. We served honorably. We were hurt in the line of duty. We should be taken care of."

Honor and service

Jensen was raised in part by his grandfather, Walter Hinkle. Walt, as Jensen called him, was a Marine captured by the Japanese in World War II who survived the Bataan Death March and three years in a prison camp then stayed in the Marines another 25 years, through the Korean War and part of the Vietnam War.

"He taught me everything I know about honor and service. Everything. I wanted to be just like him," Jensen said.

Jerrald Jensen gets "Cold Blood" tattooed on his neck in tribute to the cavalry company he served with on a mountaintop in Afghanistan. Jensen has a tattoo of a Purple Heart on the other side of his neck.

Summit Tattoo artist Martin Bee shaves Jerrald Jensen's neck in preparation for a tattoo.

Michael Ciaglo / The Gazette

When the twin towers came down in 2001, Jensen, a wiry, 5-foot-6 31-year-old working in construction, called his mother and told her he had spoken to his grandfather. Walt had said, "Put your life in order; it is time to serve your country."

"I said, 'Honey, Walt has been dead for some time,' " recalled his mother, Annie Rees. "He said, 'I know, but I spoke to him, and he said it was time to go.' "

Jensen joined the Army in 2004. He was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, based at Fort Carson in late 2005 and soon deployed to the most dangerous part of Iraq during one of the most dangerous times of the war.

It was Baghdad, late 2006. At the start of the war, the Pentagon assured the public that troops would be greeted as liberators. By the time Jensen arrived, Muslim factions were battling for control using market bombings and murder squads, and troop deaths were on their way to an all-time high.

Just as the outlook had changed since the invasion, so had the trucks. At the start of the war, soldiers drove lightweight, doorless Humvees. Insurgents kept hitting them with roadside bombs, so the Army covered the trucks in armor. Insurgents responded with bigger bombs, so the Army added more armor.

By the time Jensen was driving the streets of Baghdad, his Humvee was encased in steel and blast-proof glass. The enemy responded with a vicious little device called an explosively formed penetrator, or EFP.

An EFP is a piece of steel pipe, no bigger than a paint can, packed with explosives and capped with a bowl-shaped copper disk. When the explosives fire, the copper instantly warps into a molten dart flying at five times the speed of sound. It can slice through armor like a knife through butter.

No place safe

In the first few months Jensen was in Iraq, EFP attacks more than doubled.

Insurgents set the explosives where traffic had to slow, aiming the copper spears at the front windows where senior leaders often rode.

Soldiers tried to look out for them, but there was little they could do.

"We lost a lot of guys that way," Jensen said. "There was no neighborhood that was really safe."

Sgt. Jerrald Jensen sits in the Humvee in Iraq in 2007 where a few weeks later he was nearly killed.

Courtesy Jerrald Jensen

Jensen was the driver for the No. 2 commander in his battalion, a hard-working major named Keith Brace. Their mission was to drive the most dangerous neighborhoods every day, trying to forge alliances with local leaders.

Over the months, the major and Jensen grew close. "Jensen was a great guy," said Brace, now retired. "Very talkative, active, high energy. ... I always got the feeling he was taking good care of me."

In August 2007, the Army received intelligence that insurgents were targeting the top commanders in his battalion, Jensen said. He figured the insurgents probably knew the major always rode in the front passenger seat, and one well-aimed EFP would cut him in half.

On their next rest day, Jensen had Army welders move the major's seat back 6 inches. Jensen figured that if an EFP hit, the blast might still rip off the major's legs, but at least he might live.

Three days later, on Aug. 22, 2007, it happened. They were rolling in a convoy of six Humvees through a rough neighborhood on the edge of Sadr City. Jensen drove while a gunner on top of the Humvee scanned the rooftops and the major talked on the radio in his pushed-back seat.

The convoy slowed to go through a gate. On one side, sun-bleached buildings lined the road. On the other, a dusty soccer field rippled in the heat.

"It was a good day," Brace said. "Everything was normal. Kids were playing soccer. You don't see people out if a bomb is about to go off."

rest at

.@gop OK Sens. Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn repeatedly voted against funding disaster aid for other parts of the country

WASHINGTON -- As frantic rescue missions continued Monday in Oklahoma following the catastrophic tornadoes that ripped through the state, it appeared increasingly likely that residents who lost homes and businesses would turn to the federal government for emergency disaster aid. That could put the state's two Republican senators in an awkward position.

Sens. Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn, both Republicans, are fiscal hawks who have repeatedly voted against funding disaster aid for other parts of the country. They also have opposed increased funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which administers federal disaster relief.

Late last year, Inhofe and Coburn both backed a plan to slash disaster relief to victims of Hurricane Sandy. In a December press release, Coburn complained that the Sandy Relief bill contained "wasteful spending," and identified a series of items he objected to, including "$12.9 billion for future disaster mitigation activities and studies."

Coburn spokesman John Hart on Monday evening confirmed that the senator will seek to ensure that any additional funding for tornado disaster relief in Oklahoma be offset by cuts to federal spending elsewhere in the budget. "That's always been his position [to offset disaster aid]," Hart said. "He supported offsets to the bill funding the OKC bombing recovery effort." Those offsets were achieved in 1995 by tapping federal funds that had not yet been appropriated.

In 2011, both senators opposed legislation that would have granted necessary funding for FEMA when the agency was set to run out of money. Sending the funds to FEMA would have been "unconscionable," Coburn said at the time.

Hart said Coburn had "never made parochial calculations" about Oklahoma's disproportionate share of disaster funds, "as his voting record and campaign against earmarks demonstrates." Hart added that Coburn, "makes no apologies for voting against disaster aid bills that are often poorly conceived and used to finance priorities that have little to do with disasters."

A representative for Inhofe could not immediately be reached for comment. Inhofe earlier tweeted: "The devastation in Oklahoma is heartbreaking. Please join me and #PrayforOklahoma. Spread the word."

Coburn also put out a message on Twitter, writing, "My thoughts and prayers are with those in Oklahoma affected by the tragic tornado outbreak."

Oklahoma currently ranks third in the nation after Texas and California in terms of total federal disaster and fire declarations, which kickstart the federal emergency relief funding process. Just last month, President Barack Obama signed a disaster declaration for the state following severe snowstorms.

And despite their voting record on disaster aid for other states, both Coburn and Inhofe appear to sing a different tune when it comes to such funding for Oklahoma.


Is “Star Trek Into Darkness” a Drone Allegory?


"Are you Starfleet or private security?" Lieutenant Commander Scott asks a man—a very big man—who is pointing a phaser at him. "You look like private security." And "Star Trek Into Darkness" looks like an allegory about drones or civil liberties—or something. But in neither case are the questions posed answered: the big man with the gun is swept out of an airlock before we learn whether he will reveal the twenty-third-century name for Blackwater. (There will be spoilers in this post.) And by the time, close to the end, a falling spaceship slices into some tall, shining skyscrapers, causing the towers to collapse on themselves, the movie's efforts to make a coherent point about counterterrorism have already done the same.

The setup to the movie does have promise. There is a mystery attack on a library that kills a few dozen people. Starfleet gathers its commanders, including James T. Kirk, who is in trouble for recent rule-breaking. (Long story, involving a volcano: basically, Kirk was more of a humanitarian interventionist than the Prime Directive allows.) Kirk correctly but belatedly guesses that there will be a follow-up attack—the model is the second I.E.D. that takes out the first responders, a sequence we've seen often in the past few years—and watches his mentor die. Someone called John Harrison, supposedly a member of Starfleet military intelligence, is identified as the terrorist. He has fled to the federally administered tribal areas—actually, to an uninhabited region of the Klingons' home planet. It would be an act of war for troops from the United Federation of Planets to just march in. So Admiral Marcus, a hawk, tells Kirk to go to the edge of the Neutral Zone with secret torpedoes he's not supposed to open and fire one at Harrison. "This is a manhunt," Marcus says. Don't try to capture; just kill.

This would, Spock reminds Kirk, be an extrajudicial assassination, against the preference of the United Federation of Planets for trials. Scotty objects to having to sign for torpedoes when he is afraid they might mess with his engines; he quits, telling Kirk not to fire them. Maybe one of those objections is why Kirk, approaching the edge of the Neutral Zone, decides to disobey orders and lead a landing party to capture Harrison. (And here is a spoiler: he is really Khan Noonien Singh, a character previously played by Ricardo Montalbán and now by Benedict Cumberbatch, whose name fits the allegorical venue.) Is it because he believes in the law, or just that he is curious and likes a good fight? Kirk tries to capture Khan not because of his judicial instincts but because of his martial ones.

The anti-drone argument that "Star Trek" goes for most is not one having to do with due process or civilian or collateral casualties (a random Klingon patrol is wiped out as a result of their landing) but an essentially emotional one: they feel strange. It doesn't seem right, or like a fair, forthright fight. They are uncanny—that, in the movie, bodies turn out to be cryogenically frozen in the torpedoes just underscores this aspect. One doesn't want to dismiss this complaint; but it is inadequate. Is our discomfort telling us that we should inquire more about drones, or are we just Luddites who need to get used to the technology?


fbi had search warrant for @foxnews 's reporter's email account


.@speakerboehner @GOP 's Favorability Ratings Have Tanked To Their Lowest Point Ever

The number of Americans who view the Republican Party unfavorably has hit a record high, according to a new poll released by CNN on Monday, despite scandals that have plagued the White House over the past few weeks. 

The poll found that 59 percent of respondents view the GOP unfavorably, a record that has only shown up one other time in the poll's results since tracking began in 1992.

The Republican Party's net favorability ratings are down 8 points in the past two months. The amount of respondents viewing the GOP favorably fell from 38 percent to 35 percent, while the number of people who view the party unfavorably climbed five points, up from 54 percent in March. 

The only other time the party's favorability ratings have been this low came in the aftermath of the summer 2011 fight over raising the nation's debt ceiling.

The poll's findings — combined with President Barack Obama's continued popularity — suggest that Republicans remain susceptible to overreach on the issues of Benghazi and the IRS' targeting of conservative-sounding groups applying for tax exempt status.

The same poll found that 54 percent of respondents said the GOP was "reacting appropriately" to the IRS' targeting, compared with just 42 percent who said they were "overreacting." Majorities also believe, however, that what Obama has said about the scandal has been at least "mostly true," and that the IRS acted on its own in carrying out the targeting.


Ultra-Complicated Tax Measures That Microsoft Uses To Avoid $2.4 Billion In U.S. Taxes

Today, Apple executives will testify before Congress about the details of their expansive tax-minimization system. 

Major tech companies exploit differences between taxation policies in different nations in order to pay as few taxes as possible. 

Apple isn't the only one. In fact their competitor Microsoft has a massive system by which to avoid taxation, detailed in another Senate report from last September. 

American companies keep sixty percent of their cash overseas and untaxed, some $1.7 trillion, according to a U.S. Senate HSGAC Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations released in September 2012. 

That report used Microsoft as a case study for the leaps and bounds that U.S. corporations go through to minimize their tax exposure, and illustrate the current flaws with the international corporate tax regime.

The Senate investigation found that Microsoft reduced its 2011 federal tax bill by a whopping $2.43 billion — or 44 percent — by using a wide, international network of controlled foreign corporations and the exploitation of various loopholes in the U.S. corporate tax code. 

According to Microsoft, the company paid $3.11 billion in federal taxes in 2011. 

According to the full Senate report, Microsoft Corp does 85 percent of its research and development in the United States. Of its 94,000 employees, 36,000 are in product R&D. The company had reported income of $23.2 billion, but with a federal tax liability of $3.11 billion only paid an effective federal tax rate of 13.4 percent. That's much lower than the top statutory rate of 35 percent for corporations.

The way the group accomplished this is through a wide variety of foreign groups in tax havens like Ireland, Puerto Rico and Singapore, and by exploiting a recently updated tax loophole.

In fairness to Microsoft, they're doing what nearly every other major technology company does. A Microsoft representative commented on the fiduciary responsibility to shareholders to maximize value.

The company accomplished this by selling the intellectual property rights for its retail businesses to different controlled companies in tax havens. 

The report found that Microsoft has three main revenue sources resulting from its intellectual property. The first is retail software which is comprised of the sale of products to consumers, retailers, and enterprise licenses to governments and businesses. The second is web products like Microsoft Bing and Xbox Live. The third is licensing to computer manufacturers who pre-install Microsoft on the products they sell.


Rand Paul Says It's Outrageous That Apple Is Being Harassed About Its Taxes

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul went on a great rant during today's Senate subcommittee hearing on Apple's offshore tax practices, slamming his Congressional colleagues for even holding the hearing in the first place. 

"Frankly, I'm offended by the tone and tenor of this hearing," Paul said, laying into those who take issue with Apple's tax policies. 

"I'm offended by the spectacle of dragging in executives from an American company that is not doing anything illegal," he added. "If anyone should be on trial, it should be Congress." 

Apple CEO Tim Cook is testifying before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations this morning to defend the company from accusations that it avoids tax payments by shifting profits to offshore subsidiaries in Ireland. 

Michigan Democratic Sen. Carl Levin, the chair of the subcommittee, said Monday that he has "never seen anything like" Apple's tax "gimmickry."

Paul took issue with the premise of Tuesday's hearing, however, and called on the Senate to stop "harassing" Apple, which he called one of "America's greatest success stories."

"Instead of doing the right thing, we drag businessmen and women in here to berate them for trying to maximize their profits for shareholders," Paul said. "Apple has done more to enrich people's lives than politicians will ever do."


Billionaire Kochs Get Taxpayer-Subsidized Security Protection @KochFoundations @CharlesGKoch

Yesterday, DBA Press and the Center for Media and Democracy released a stunning report showing how counter terrorism units and the Department of Homeland Security gathered intelligence on the Occupy Wall Street movement for the benefit of the very corporations targeted by the protesters. 

Titled, Dissent or Terror: How the Nation's Counter Terrorism Apparatus, In Partnership with Corporate America, Turned on Occupy Wall Street, the year-long investigation is based on the collection of thousands of pages of records obtained from counter terrorism and law enforcement agencies.

One of the revelations of the report is that Koch Industries, as well as billionaire Charles Koch and his son, Chase Koch, hired off-duty Wichita, Kansas police officers that served as their own private security force at the company and their personal residences in mid February 2012.  According to the report: "These dates coincide with Occupy Wichita's  'Occupy Koch Town' events, held from February 17 through 19, 2012." Koch Industries, one of the largest private and most secretive corporations in the world is headquartered in Wichita. Charles Koch and his brother, David, are majority owners of Koch Industries and regularly pilloried in the press for funding corporate front groups that use the taxpayer subsidized nonprofit structure to push a deregulatory agenda. 

Wichita police receive their training, guns, equipment, uniforms and benefits from the taxpayer. Lawsuits and liability borne from their activities also accrue to the taxpayer. Setting up a program which allows billionaires to hire armed, off-duty municipal police with the power to arrest is akin to the Praetorian Guard that protected Roman Emperors; do the police owe their fealty to the billionaires or the public interest? 

On October 10, 2011, we reported on a similar program in New York City called the Paid Detail. The program began under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in 1998. It permits the New York Stock Exchange and Wall Street corporations, including those repeatedly charged with crimes, to hire municipal police. At the time of our 2011 report, the corporations were paying an average of $37 an hour (no medical, no pension benefit, no overtime pay) for a member of the NYPD, with uniform, gun, handcuffs and the ability to arrest.  The officer is indemnified by the taxpayer, not the corporation.

When Wall Street investment bank, Lehman Brothers, collapsed on September 15, 2008, its bankruptcy filings in 2009 showed it owed money to 21 members of the NYPD's Paid Detail Unit.  Other Wall Street firms that are known to have used the Paid Detail include Goldman Sachs, the World Financial Center complex which houses financial firms, and the New York Stock Exchange. 

When Occupy Wall Street protesters attempted to demonstrate near the New York Stock Exchange, they were clubbed with night sticks, kicked in the face and carted off to jail. We don't know if some of these brutal actions were conducted by the Paid Detail showing their fealty to their Wall Street masters. A deeply unsettling video of the NYPD suppressing dissent and brutalizing peaceful protesters was provided to the court in the Federal civil rights case, Rodriguez v. Winski. In 2004, Robert Britz, then President and Co-Chief Operating Officer of the New York Stock Exchange, told a congressional committee that the Stock Exchange had "established a 24-hour NYPD Paid Detail monitoring the perimeter of the data centers."

rest at

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Right Wing Radio Host Pete Santilli Wants To Shoot Hillary Clinton ‘In The Vagina’

Tea Party and Alex Jones-type radio host Pete Santilli made sexually violent threats against Hillary Clinton last week because of her alleged part in an insane right-wing conspiracy theory.

How about Hillary Clinton? That freakin' a**bag!

[Hillary Clinton] has not only been involved in drug trafficking out of Mena, Arkansas okay, not only that, okay, all these people try to have this plausible deniability thing, yeah sure, they're removed, they're just a bunch of politicians. Well, guess where they got all of the money to acquire the power that they have?

This 'C U Next Tuesday,' Hillary Clinton, has been involved in the killings of American troops. Namely, the mysterious suicide of the emotionally unstable Navy SEAL commander who just so happened to be involved in all of her dealings in the Middle East, okay. And he just mysteriously got suicided along with everyone else associated with the Clinton family. Miss Hillary Clinton needs to be convicted, she needs to be tried, convicted and shot in the vagina. I wanna pull the trigger. That 'C U Next Tuesday' has killed human beings that are in our ranks of our service.

Santilli doesn't stop there–he also wants President Obama to be shot.

"I want to remind you that in Benghazi, Miss Hillary 'the fricken' biggest vagina on the face of the planet' told troops to stand down and to not go in and interfere with the operation that they set up because they're moving arms; Barack Obama is moving drugs through the CIA out of Afghanistan and Barack Obama needs to be tried, convicted, and shot for crimes against the United States of America. And if anybody has a problem with that, then you are an enemy of our state."

Santilli describes himself as "…a radio talkshow host ready to take my show to national syndication; that is, of course, if the FCC regulated AM/FM radio stations can handle my truth & honesty. I'm also an optimistic, reality-shock "Doom & Gloomer" and always have been. As a matter of fact, I was Doom & Gloomer way before everyone else jumped on the bandwagon. Shoot; it all started for me back in the early eighties; when I was in the United States Marine Corp. Back then I was exposed to some of the back-channel ways of the world during the height of the Cold War, and believe me, I discovered at a very early age that the Wizard of Oz is merely a small old man in a velvet green suit; pulling levers, and pushing buttons behind the big green curtain.  Everything "shocking" that happens these days is either by design or default; which is why I am a self described Info-Warrior. As  Alex Jones puts it, there is a war for your mind and its a well known fact that you are not winning.  Everything you supposedly perceive as reality has been fabricated by the Wizard of Oz; the little old man behind the curtain."


asshat @sarahpalinusa : Receives Twitter Backlash for ‘Umbrella-Gate’ Post

deadstate umbrella gate

Sarah Palin was forcefully rebuked by Twitter followers in response to a tweet she posted this Thursday.

The tweet slammed President Obama for having two Marines hold umbrellas for him and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a press conference in the White House Rose Garden.

deadstate palin tweet

But Andrew Kaczynski of the news site BuzzFeed was quick to point out Palin's hypocrisy on the "Umbrella-Gate" scandal, with an image that soon went viral afterwards.

deadstate buzzfeed 1

Many of Palin's followers on Twitter did not take kindly to her hypocrisy as well.

deadstate twitter feed


Saturday, May 18, 2013

@CharlesGKoch Koch Brothers Dump Mound of Oil Waste Rising Over Detroit

irie1972 posted: " One of America's biggest polluters, the Koch brothers, control a company which has produced, "A three-story black mountain of petrol"
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@KochFoundations Koch Brothers Dump Mound of Oil Waste Rising Over Detroit

by irie1972

One of America's biggest polluters, the Koch brothers, control a company which has produced, "A three-story black mountain of petroleum coke which is covering an entire city block on the other side of the Detroit River." Charles and David Koch are wealthy industrialists who back a number of conservative and libertarian causes including activist groups that challenge the science behind climate change. It doesn't get better than that.

Image: New York Times

Image: New York Times

Z Woof from Daily Kos breaks it down:

Petroleum coke is a byproduct of refining Canadian oil sands bitumen. According to an article in the New York Times, Kerry Satterthwaite, a petroleum coke analyst at Roskill Information Services, said, ""It is worse than a byproduct," Ms. Satterthwaite said."It's a waste byproduct that is costly and inconvenient to store, but effectively costs nothing to produce."

The waste byproduct is purchased by Koch Carbon and sold as fuel in Mexico and China. The EPA (the agency the Koch brothers want to dismantle) no longer allows any new licenses permitting the burning of petroleum coke in the United States.

Lorne Stockman, who recently published a study on petroleum coke for the environmental group Oil Change International, says, "It's really the dirtiest residue from the dirtiest oil on earth."

Koch Carbon is controlled by Charles and David Koch, wealthy industrialists who back a number of conservative and libertarian causes including activist groups that challenge the science behind climate change. The company sells the high-sulfur, high-carbon waste, usually overseas, where it is burned as fuel.

The New York Times reports:

What is really, really disturbing to me is how some companies treat the city of Detroit as a dumping ground," said Rashida Tlaib, the Michigan state representative for that part of Detroit. "Nobody knew this was going to happen." Almost 56 percent of Canada's oil production is from the petroleum-soaked oil sands of northern Alberta, more than 2,000 miles north.

The Koch brothers are libertarians who many of their supporters tout as patriotic entities upholding the Constitution, etc, etc. When business interests collide with our ground, air and water, then it's safe to say there is no love for America from the two billionaire siblings. These guys are like the Lex Luthors of politics. This latest episode is befitting of a prison sentence.

More at Daily Kos.


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