Tuesday, July 30, 2013

@speakerboehner Demand That John Boehner Be Expelled Or Resign For Keystone XL Scandal @gop

here http://www.politicususa.com/2012/01/25/john-boehner-keystone-scandal.html

A good job with benefits and a pension are hard to find and if any American is fortunate enough to have a job, it is unlikely they would resign unless circumstances made remaining on the job intolerable. There are, however, occasions when a compassionate employer finds it necessary to force an employee to resign for bad behavior instead of terminating their employment. Members of Congress are unlikely to ever resign unless there is an impending ethics investigation or morality issues that are egregious enough to spark an investigation and subsequent trial to expel the offender from the House or Senate. Newt Gingrich was forced to resign his position as Speaker of the House in 1999 after being fined and reprimanded for ethics violations, but it was pressure from Republicans that forced his eventual resignation.

The current House Speaker, John Boehner, has demonstrated that he, like Gingrich, is averse to ethical behavior and it is time for him to resign his position or face an ethics investigation and eventual expulsion from Congress.  There is precedent in calling for Boehner's resignation or expulsion, and ironically, it involved another representative from Ohio.  James A. Traficant Jr. of Ohio was expelled in July 2002 after he was convicted of receiving favors, gifts and money in return for performing official acts on behalf of the donors. John Boehner's case is similar to Traficant's in that he is performing official acts on behalf of the oil industry and seven Canadian tar sands companies that stand to benefit if the Keystone XL pipeline is built between Canada and the Gulf Coast. Boehner's official acts on behalf of Canada's tar sands industry are scandalous because he owns stock in the aforementioned seven companies, and he is using his financial gain as impetus to hold 160 million Americans' tax cuts hostage in return for immediate approval of the Keystone pipeline.

On Sunday, Boehner told "Fox News Sunday" that Republicans may tie approval of the Keystone XL pipeline to the next payroll tax cut extension to force President Obama to give his backing to the project. Boehner said, "We're going to do everything we can to make sure this Keystone pipeline project is approved," and as Republicans have shown with the debt ceiling, holding the payroll tax cut hostage is not out of the realm of possibilities. The only beneficiaries of the Keystone pipeline are Canada's tar sands companies, the oil industry, and John Boehner.

Boehner's 2010 financial disclosure form reveals his investment of $15,001 to $50,000 in Canadian Natural Resources Ltd, and they are in the business of tar sands oil and are just one of seven companies  Boehner bought stocks in. His 2009 disclosure shows no stocks in Canadian Natural Resources Ltd leading any semi-intelligent American to believe Boehner bought stock in Canada's tar sands just in time to reap financial benefits if and when the pipeline was completed and carrying Canadian oil to Texas for refinement and sale on the foreign market. Boehner's push, as Speaker of the House, to build the pipeline is beyond simple conflict of interest; he is performing official acts for favors (campaign contributions) and money in the form of dividends from his oil sands stocks. Boehner's gifts in exchange for performing official acts for the oil industry are $144,150 in the form of campaign contributions in 2010 alone. Boehner must resign or face an ethics  investigation that may result in his expulsion from the House.

Boehner makes his unethical activity worse by lying to the American people about the number of jobs the pipeline will create and his assertions have been disproven time and time again. The fact that Boehner lies to the American people for pure personal financial gain and future oil industry campaign contributions is a matter for a House Ethics panel investigation. If Boehner wants to avoid a campaign to remove him from office, he must resign voluntarily to save himself and his family the embarrassment of a protracted ethics investigation.

As Speaker of the House, Boehner could have bought stock in Canada's tar sands oil companies and let the State Department and Environmental Protection Agency conduct studies to grant a permit for the Keystone pipeline without pushing the project by lying and now, potentially holding 160 million Americans' payroll tax cut extension hostage. However, the lure of personal financial gain was too enticing to Boehner and he took the only path available to an unethical congressman who stands to profit from performing official acts for money and gifts. Boehner must resign.

Boehner has obstructed, lied, and cheated the American people long enough. He is a hypocrite for calling for Anthony Weiner's resignation for sending  sexually charged pictures over his phone at the same time Boehner bought stocks in Canadian tar sands companies. Pushing the pipeline that only benefits the Canadian companies Boehner invested in, foreign oil markets, and the oil industry while jeopardizing prime agricultural land and critical aquifer is unethical at least and inherently despicable. John Boehner can resign and go to work as a lobbyist for Canada's tar sands industry, but he cannot be their lobbyist and Speaker of the House at the same time. When Boehner was caught handing out payments for the tobacco industry, he promised he would desist from any act that appeared unethical, but his arrogance and love of oil money proved too tempting and drove him to perform official acts for gifts and  money, and if it was enough to expel another Ohio congressman, then it is good enough for Speaker Boehner. Mr. Speaker, it is time for you to go.

rest http://www.politicususa.com/2012/01/25/john-boehner-keystone-scandal.html

Nine Reasons Detroit’s Bankruptcy Is A Scam


Detroit, long known as one of the country's most economically dire major cities, has filed bankruptcy. TV news is full of pictures of what an outsider might think is a war zone. Buildings are abandoned. Plywood boards are hanging off the windows and doors. Detroit is presented as so crime-ridden that law abiding citizens feel compelled to drive around Detroit rather than risking driving through it.

If courts allow the bankruptcy to go through (there are state constitutional questions), it could be devastating news for Detroit's public employees and retirees. It's true that the city of Detroit has been broke for a long time. The collapse of the manufacturing base has had a dramatic impact on tax collection for the city. There's little hope that the city will pull out of its situation – at least without some serious intervention – or is that true?

The more there is to learn about Detroit's bankruptcy, the more convincing it becomes that this last-straw legal maneuver is anything but necessary. Here are eight reasons that Detroit doesn't need to and really shouldn't go bankrupt:

1. Detroit (or any Michigan city) should never have been put in this position. Detroit was one of several Michigan cities that were deemed so mismanaged that the state's Republican governor took all control out of the hands of the citizens of Detroit and gave it to a single city manager. The voters rejected the emergency manager idea and Governor Rick Snyder did it anyway. As Mother Jones writes, it was a hostile takeover.

2. Detroit's city manager, Kevyn Orr, is a bankruptcy attorney. The first bill paid during the drawdown to the bankruptcy process is $1.4 million to Orr's former law firm.

3. The emergency manager program is designed to keep cities out of bankruptcy, but emails have confirmed that Snyder may have planned bankruptcy all along.

4. Detroit's unions have been in negotiation to help pull the city out of bankruptcy. Their efforts were snubbed.

"From the beginning, we have attempted to participate in discussions and offer a restructuring plan," Dan McNamara, the president of IAFF (International Association of Firefighters) Local 344 of the Detroit Fire Fighters Association told The Detroit Free Press. "It is a shame that now we will have to be in front of a bankruptcy judge when all along we have been expecting to have meaningful meetings with emergency manager Kevyn Orr. These meetings never occurred."

Ed McNeil, a special assistant to the president of Detroit's largest union, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 25, called the bankruptcy filing premature. He doubts that the city will have an easy time proving that it is eligible for bankruptcy. During negotiations, McNeil noted, "We've asked them for information, and they've never given it to us."

Source: The International.org

5. Detroit's economy may not be as dire as we are made to believe. The hotel industry is booming. In fact the Motor City's occupancy rate is about 70%, which is higher than the national average:

Detroit might be in bankruptcy, but its hotel industry is on an upward trajectory. Three casino hotels have opened in recent years. A new Starwood Aloft hotel is set to open next year in a landmark building in Grand Circus Park downtown. And developers have proposed turning a historic firehouse across from the Cobo Convention Center into a boutique hotel.

The Cobo Center itself, home to the annual North American International Auto Show, is undergoing a $290 million renovation, which tourism officials hope will attract more conferences and business travelers when completed at the end of 2014.

Other private investment in downtown and midtown Detroit by such business leaders as Quicken Loans owner Dan Gilbert is also revitalizing those areas. Gilbert has snagged more than 7 million square feet of property downtown, with plans to develop cafes and other attractions. And through a public-private partnership, a new 18,000-seat arena for the Detroit Red Wings has gotten the green light in midtown, with an accompanying entertainment district.

Source: USA Today

rest http://thebigslice.org/eight-reasons-detroits-bankruptcy-is-a-scam/

Billionaire Gets New Sports Arena in Bankrupt Detroit; almost half to be paid for with public funds


"Spirit of Detroit" statue in downtown Detroit. (AP Photo)

The headline juxtaposition boggles the mind. You have, on one day, "Detroit Files Largest Municipal Bankruptcy in History." Then on the next, you have "Detroit Plans to Pay For New Red Wings Hockey Arena Despite Bankruptcy."

Yes, the very week Michigan Governor Rick Snyder granted a state-appointed emergency manager's request to declare the Motor City bankrupt, the Tea Party governor gave a big thumbs-up to a plan for a new $650 million Detroit Red Wings hockey arena. Almost half of that $650 million will be paid with public funds.

This is actually happening. City services are being cut to the bone. Fighting fires, emergency medical care and trash collection are now precarious operations. Retired municipal workers will have their $19,000 in annual pensions dramatically slashed. Even the artwork in the city art museum will be sold off piece by piece. This will include a mural by the great radical artist Diego Rivera that's a celebration of what the auto industry would look like in a socialist future. As Stephen Colbert said, the leading bidder will be "the museum of irony."

They don't have money to keep the art on the walls. They do have $283 million to subsidize a new arena for Red Wings owner and founder of America's worst pizza-pizza chain, Little Caesar's, Mike Ilitch, whose family is worth $2.7 billion dollars. ("Friends! Romans! Countrymen! Lend me your pensions!")

How did Governor Snyder possibly summon the shamelessness to justify this?

Here's how. He said, "This is part of investing in Detroit's future, That's the message we need to get across.… As we stabilize the city government's finances, as we address those issues and improve services, Detroit moves from a place where people might have had a negative impression…to being a place that will be recognized across the world as a place of great value and a place to invest."

Where, oh where have we heard this argument before? What city has heard the false promise that stadium construction on the public dime would be a postindustrial life raft? There are actually many, but none have heard it more and paid the cost quite like Detroit. A new Red Wings arena would be the city's third publicly funded major sports stadium, joining the Tigers' Comerica Stadium and the Lions' Ford Field. Each of these was billed as a "remedy" to save the city. Each of these has obviously failed. Fool us once, shame on you. Fool us twice, shame on us. Try to fool us three times? Go to hell.

I spoke with Marvin Surkin, co-author of the classic book Detroit I Do Mind Dying. He said, "These are more than just remedies that didn't work. They are part of the problem because stadiums don't address the central issues of falling population, falling tax base, declining wages, unemployment and the underfunding of schools."

rest http://www.thenation.com/blog/175467/vultures-and-red-wings-billionaire-gets-new-sports-arena-bankrupt-detroit#axzz2aTzqH3UT

Sunday, July 28, 2013

afl-cio: Bankruptcy Is Not the Answer for the People of Detroit @GrahamBlog

Lindsey Graham tweeted that there should be no bailout for Detroit:

Lindsey GrahamVerified account @GrahamBlog

Should the federal government bailout Detroit? No way. No how.

The afl-sio says otherwise:

from http://www.aflcio.org/About/Exec-Council/EC-Statements/Bankruptcy-Is-Not-the-Answer-for-the-People-of-Detroit?source=email_rt_mc_body

Last week, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder authorized the Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) for Detroit, Kevyn Orr, to race to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy so he would beat a state judge ruling that this action violated the Michigan constitution, which says that public employee pensions should not be diminished or impaired.

The AFL-CIO will continue to support our city of Detroit active and retired members in their fight to maintain dignity on the job, a safe workplace, fair wages and benefits for their labor, and against cuts in the pensions they have paid for and earned. We call on President Obama, Congress and the leadership of Michigan to stand with us and with the people of Detroit.

Bankruptcy must not be used as a tool to impoverish city of Detroit workers or retirees. City workers already have made severe concessions to keep the city afloat. They are not to blame for Detroit's financial problems, yet they have been making sacrifices all along the way to help the city out.

Corporations have time and time again used the harsh laws of bankruptcy to abrogate the rights of workers and take away pensions working people earned through decades of labor, while leaving other, more privileged parties—from CEOs to bondholders—with their fortunes intact.

Today, we see this behavior on a massive scale in the coal industry, where Peabody Coal created a whole company, Patriot Coal, for the purpose of going bankrupt and taking away retirement security from tens of thousands of miners.

It must be noted that Kevyn Orr, who now is proposing massive cuts to the pensions Detroit workers have earned, worked for the law firm Jones Day, which is currently representing Peabody Coal in its bankruptcy proceeding and which is pushing to severely cut the retirement security of the retired coal miners after a lifetime of backbreaking work in their mines.

Every step of the way, the citizens of Detroit were told they had to give up their right to democratic representation by giving power to an emergency financial manager in order to avoid bankruptcy. Now that bankruptcy has been filed anyway, it is clear that either state control has failed, or that Gov. Snyder and his hand-picked emergency manager appointee were not honest about their intentions in the first place.

In fact, Mr. Orr's decision to file for bankruptcy can be taken as confirmation that he was hired, secretly and ahead of a declared financial emergency, because he is a bankruptcy expert.

While telling a state court that bankruptcy was not imminent, Gov. Snyder was aware the opposite was true. The governor authorized the city's bankruptcy filing on July 18 when he realized the court was likely to issue an order protecting retirees' pension rights under the Michigan Constitution.

Gov. Snyder has a track record of ignoring the will of Michigan's citizens. Just weeks after Michigan voters repealed a law establishing the position of emergency financial manager, the governor and the state legislature re-adopted a similar law. Now just a few months later, the governor has hastily authorized a bankruptcy in an effort to bypass the state's judicial branch and its constitution.

Neither Gov. Snyder nor Mr. Orr have shown good faith in this matter. Mr. Orr said publicly he has "bent over backwards" to work with constituencies in Detroit, but this is not true. While Mr. Orr did have significant discussions with bondholders prior to the bankruptcy filing, despite many requests Mr. Orr has not had a single meaningful discussion with the unions representing the overwhelming majority of Detroit's employees. No good faith. No bargaining—even though the law requires it prior to bankruptcy.

The city's current workers are not responsible for the city's economic state. In fact, they are working more for less to keep the city running. Many are risking their lives to protect Detroit's citizens using old, broken and rundown equipment—which puts the lives of the protectors and the citizens at risk.

Retired men and women in Detroit are not responsible for the city's economic state. They paid their share into their retirement systems—which by all independent measures were in good financial health—that are now likely to be pilfered to pay Wall Street firms as bondholders in bankruptcy.

Mr. Orr's claim that Detroit's pension liabilities account for $3.5 billion of the city's debt is more than three and a half times as much as reported by the Retirement System of the City of Detroit's actuary, and raises serious questions about how objective—let alone neutral—he will be in submitting a restructuring plan to a bankruptcy court.

Yet bankruptcy and the suspension or reduction of pension payments would result in profound hardship for workers, retirees and their families. It appears Gov. Snyder and EFM Kevyn Orr are pushing Detroit into bankruptcy to gut the modest benefits received by Detroit's retired public service employees.

Rather, the fault lies with corporate CEOs who relentlessly sought out foreign shores for higher profits at the expense of fair wages and safe working conditions for American workers, while avoiding paying the taxes that would have strengthened Detroit.

And the fault lies with Gov. Snyder, who slashed the city's share of state revenues by tens of millions of dollars.

Bankruptcy is not the answer for Detroit. It will only make Detroit's problems worse and accelerate its race to the bottom.

It is estimated that bankruptcy will cost Detroit more than $100 million in lawyer and "professional" fees, including massive fees paid to Mr. Orr's law firm. That money could be used to make the citizens safer, restore parks and libraries and meet the general obligations of the city.

Detroit's bankruptcy will lead to higher borrowing costs not only for Detroit, but also for cities throughout Michigan as the bond market rightly casts doubt on the state's willingness to intervene to assure the creditworthiness of its towns and cities.

Bankruptcy also sets a dangerous precedent. Those who would profit from the collapse of the public infrastructure of American cities see in these troubling circumstances an opportunity to benefit at the expense of the American worker. Their toxic vision for profit above all else must not shove aside one of America's bedrock values: that all American workers deserve to be treated justly and with dignity.

The time is now for responsible, powerful action.

First, we call upon President Obama and Congress to commit to an immediate infusion of federal assistance for Detroit, and to demand that the federal financial commitment be matched by the state of Michigan.

Second, we call upon Gov. Snyder to make whole the city of Detroit, which saw its share of state revenues slashed by $66 million from 2011 to 2012 by his hand. In total, state aid to Detroit has been cut by $160 million since 2002.

The 12 million members of the AFL-CIO will fight for the workers in Detroit, and for the financial health of this great American city. We will not let Detroit's proud residents, our sisters and brothers, become the pawns of corporate profiteers.

Friday, July 26, 2013

How politics works: @gop now wants to talk about war on women when all they've done is legislate the vagina and no jobs bills


In 2012, the Republican Party's "war on women" became a major focal point of the election year and very likely exacerbated the existing gender gap. With 2013 half-over, GOP policymakers appear to have learned very little, and have been just as aggressive in pursuing the same policies.

But McKay Coppins reports that the Republican National Committee believes it has an opportunity to turn the tables.

Republicans are hoping the latest picture of Anthony Weiner's genitals -- along with his confession this week that he continued his online sex chat habit well after he was first caught in 2011 -- will give momentum to their effort to throw the "war on women" attack line back in the Democrats' faces. [...]

With a flurry of public memos, tweets, and op-eds, the RNC is working to make the Democratic Party take ownership of Eliot Spitzer, who resigned the New York governorship after a prostitution scandal and is now running for city comptroller; San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, now facing allegations of sexual harassment; and Weiner, whose online sexual dalliances have driven the political news cycle all week, and given RNC communications director Sean Spicer some irresistible ammunition.

This is, of course, Political Strategy 101 -- take your rivals' isolated troubles, tie them together, and try to apply the condemnation as broadly as possible. To this extent, the RNC's plan certainly makes sense, and the Democrats in question -- two candidates and one office holder -- appear to have given Republicans plenty to work with.

But the RNC strategy only works on the most superficial of levels, and requires the audience to lose sight of what makes the "war on women" important as a matter of public policy.

If, for example, the allegations against Bob Filner have merit, there is no defense for his disgusting misconduct. Likewise, Weiner's personal judgment appears bizarre, and Spitzer's recklessness was an obvious mistake.

When we talk about a "war on women," however, we're talking less about Republican misdeeds towards specific individuals and more about a systemic issue of GOP policymakers pursuing a radical agenda that affects all American women.

When the RNC is comfortable with this or not, at issue here are efforts to restrict reproductive rights, scrap Planned Parenthood, close health clinics that provide important services to women, force medical professionals to lie to women, and force women to undergo medically unnecessary exams for political reasons. In recent years, as Republican politics has become more radicalized, the party has also used inexplicable rhetoric on rape, opposed pay equity laws, and pushed antiquated views on gender roles.

That's a war on women.

What's more, note that Filner, Weiner, and Spitzer have drawn considerable criticisms from other Democrats, while the vast majority of the Republican Party still believes this radical policy agenda targeting women's rights is worthwhile and something to be proud of.

That said, if Republicans want to make the case that the Filner, Weiner, and Spitzer controversies are comparable, they're certainly welcome to make their case. Maybe Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) can lead the charge?

rest http://maddowblog.msnbc.com/_news/2013/07/26/19699877-the-bid-to-turn-the-tables-on-the-war-on-women?lite

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Dell Considered Novel Tax Strategy in Buyout


"the slides appeared in a Dell filing as recently as May 20. No other tax structure regarding the buyout has emerged in filings, and it is unclear how large shareholders, including Carl C. Icahn and his ally, Southeastern Asset Management, viewed it. Mr. Icahn was not available for comment on Tuesday. Calls to a Southeastern spokeswoman were not returned.

David Frink, a Dell spokesman, declined to comment on Tuesday on the rejected strategy or its successor. So did Brian Marchiony, a JPMorgan spokesman.

What is clear is that Dell was presented with a maneuver that some tax lawyers said appeared legal but aggressive.

Under a section labeled "political," the slides ask whether use of the strategy could "raise issues" or "impact" government contracts, indication of concern that it could have faced a backlash.

The apparent reason is the strategy resembles a corporate inversion, a stamp in recent decades for tax-dodging corporations like Tyco International and Nabors Industries. Those companies prompted Congressional investigations and tougher I.R.S. rules after they moved their headquarters to the offshore haven of Bermuda, with a post-office box holding company as the parent to the main United States subsidiary that housed operations and management.

Mr. Willens said the strategy would most likely have passed technical muster under I.R.S. rules but would also have brought "political and popular heat to Dell, and reputational risk."

The proposed strategy involved conducting the buyout through a newly created foreign entity that would have effectively owned Dell. Under United States tax laws, that foreign entity would have legally escaped United States corporate taxes because it would have been a partnership for United States tax purposes.

At the same time, the foreign entity, whose jurisdiction was not specified, would have been treated under tax laws in that unspecified jurisdiction as a corporation and would have been subject to foreign taxes. Those two contrasting tax outcomes, embodied in one structure, would have created a "foreign hybrid," able to navigate different national tax regimes and access offshore cash while paying little or no United States taxes.

The "unprecedented" piece in the JPMorgan strategy was the proposal that Dell designate the foreign hybrid as a partnership, securities filings show. The foreign hybrid would have held a new entity called Denali, which would have held Dell shares, and Denali would have owned Dell's foreign subsidiaries. (Mr. Dell was known in secret negotiations on the buyout as "Mr. Denali.")"

rest http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/07/24/dell-considered-novel-tax-strategy-in-buyout/?_r=0

Monday, July 22, 2013

Meet the @gop Republicans who vote against food stamps while getting millions in farm subsidies


There's a new category in the Hardhearted Hypocrite Republican Hall of Fame. Joining, among many other categories, those who voted against the stimulus, then bragged about the stimulus funding that came into their districts; those who oppose disaster relief until a disaster hits their own state; and those who've screamed outrage over Democrats engaging in procedural tactics that are just fine when done by Republicans: Republicans who get big farm subsidies but voted to slash food stamps in the current farm bill. There are 14 Republicans who have gotten a combined $7.2 million in farm subsidies since 2004, but voted to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to the bone; only one of the 14 then voted against the version of the bill that removed SNAP entirely.
"It's outrageous that some members of Congress feel it is OK to vote for their own taxpayer subsidies but against critical nutrition assistance for 47 million Americans," [Democratic Rep. George] Miller said. "It's bad enough that the House of Representatives didn't pass a farm bill that included authorization for sorely needed nutrition programs, but to see members of Congress approving their own benefits at the expense of the working poor is a new low, even for this Congress."
The most outstanding hypocrite hitting the lowest low, of course, is Tennessee Rep. Stephen Fincher, who's gotten $3.5 million in subsidies over the years, but is on a pseudo-biblical crusade against SNAP—a program 22 percent of the people in his home county rely on. But he has company in his "farm bill money for me but not for thee" voting record, including California's Rep. Doug LaMalfa, who's gotten $1.7 million in farm subsidies.

Both Fincher and LaMalfa's offices insist we should ignore their assiduous use of farm subsidies and focus on their totally heartfelt votes to eliminate such subsidies. Yeah, right, guys.

rest http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/07/22/1225571/-Meet-the-Republicans-who-vote-against-food-stamps-while-getting-millions-in-farm-subsidies#

Republicans who got farm subsidies targeted

from http://www.politico.com/story/2013/07/republicans-who-got-farm-subsidies-targeted-94532.html

House Democrats are targeting Republicans who receive farm subsidies but opposed a stripped-down farm bill with no food stamp assistance.

Fourteen GOP lawmakers have received a total of $7.2 million in farm subsidies, according to the available data since 2004, but all voted for an amendment that would have decreased the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program according to a report Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) is releasing Monday.

"It's outrageous that some members of Congress feel it is OK to vote for their own taxpayer subsidies but against critical nutrition assistance for 47 million Americans," Miller said. "It's bad enough that the House of Representatives didn't pass a farm bill that included authorization for sorely needed nutrition programs, but to see members of Congress approving their own benefits at the expense of the working poor is a new low, even for this Congress."

(Also on POLITICO: Ag panel heads meet on farm bill)

The farm bill originally included funding for SNAP, but when it failed to get enough votes in the House in June, Republicans stripped food stamp funding from the bill to gain enough GOP support for passage. In July, on a partisan vote, the farm bill passed without food stamp funding.

Only one of the 14 members listed in the report, Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.), voted against the bill when it included SNAP benefits but for it once SNAP was removed.

Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.) has received a total of $3.5 million in farm subsidies, according to numbers tracked by the lobbying firm Environmental Working Group. The company points out that according to his congressional filings, his net worth is between $204,995 and $1.1 million. And 22 percent of the residents of Fincher's home county receive food stamps.

(Also on POLITICO: Senate pushes House on farm bill)

Fincher argues he's trying to get rid of subsidies he benefits from.

"As I've long said, the farm bill is in need of major reform," Fincher said in a statement. "At first chance, I voted to remove direct payments. Both the House and the Senate passed bills that end direct payments, and as we move forward, I hope we can work out the rest of the issues to implement the necessary reforms."

Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.) received $1.7 million in farm subsidies and resides in a county in which 11 percent of the population receives SNAP benefits.

(Also on POLITICO: Farm bill debate ignites confusion)

"The congressman has long advocated for modernizing federal farm programs. He voted for eliminating the subsidies that are in question. What's more, I would add that voting on the stripped-down farm bill in no way affected the SNAP program, and those criticizing it as such are misinformed," said Kevin Eastman, spokesman for LaMalfa.

@glennbeck is spokeperson for goldline international which swindles elderly into buying overpriced gold coins


If the late social critic Eric Hoffer is correct in his often quoted ( inaccurately, it turns out) adage that "every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket," then the conservative movement is well onto the third phase of that life cycle.

Last week, preeminent conservative blogger and Fox News contributor  Erick Erickson was busted hawking a pricey but dubiously valuable financial advice newsletter to his readers in an ad that turned out to be lifted from a previous ad for the same newsletter sent in the name of Ann Coulter a few years earlier. "I'm happy to support a good friend. Didn't earn a penny," he tweeted. Whether you believe that or not may depend on whether you know that his publisher  once offered to sell his endorsement, or if you believe, as  Alex Pareene has often written, that the conservative movement is, among other things, an elaborate moneymaking venture by which the wealth of the rabid and gullible conservative rank and file is redistributed to already rich celebrities.

The truth is, peddling shady products to your most loyal listeners and readers is the rule, not the exception, and Erickson was just unfortunate enough to have someone notice him, and not the dozen other talkers or news outlets it could have easily been. From miracle health cures, to get-rich-quick schemes, to overpriced precious metals and seed banks, talk radio hosts and conservative news outlets are making a killing by trading their platform and credibility for the hard-earned cash of their unsuspecting listeners.

The most obvious example is gold, the precious metal conservative talkers encouraged their listeners to go all in on during the Great Recession (via the companies that pay them to say that and give them a cut of sales, naturally), but gold has since fallen more than 30 percent from its peak. If you bought when gold was near its high, you could have lost half your nest egg, and analysts say prices could fall another 50 percent. But poor financial advice aside, the real problem came in the particular companies the conservative luminaries ensured their listeners they could trust.

Glenn Beck is the most egregious, with his partnership with Goldline International, which also enjoys endorsements from Mark Levin and, until recently, Sean Hannity and others. Beck cut tearful promotional videos for the company, hawks them passionately on his radio and TV programs, and even  designed a coin for the company this year (it reads "mind your business" on the front).

As it turns out, the company's business model is built on  systematically swindling its mostly elderly clientele by talking or tricking them into buying overpriced coins or just sending them different products than they bought, prosecutors in California alleged, leading the company to settle for $4.5 million in refunds to its customers. A judge instructed the company to foot the bill for a court-appointed monitor, who was supposed to ensure the company stopped its alleged "bait and switch" scam.

Not long after that, the company's former chief compliance officer came forward to say the company was  back to its old tricks. "Goldline specifically targets vulnerable consumers with sales tactics designed to pressure those consumers into buying products that would often result in the consumer losing over one-third of his or her investment the instant the purchase is made," she said in a legal complaint filed late last year.

And yet, Beck's support is undiminished. The company's banner ad still graces the top of TheBlaze.com and Beck still touts them on air. "Before I started turning you on to Goldline, I wanted to look them in the eye. This is a top notch organization that's been in business since 1960," Beck says in an  endorsement on the company's website.

rest http://www.alternet.org/secrets-right-selling-garbage-your-fans

Saturday, July 20, 2013

You guys have incredible DNA and don’t forget it.” - Ken Crow, Racist & tea partier


Sometimes I think we on the left may over -generalize about the level of racism that's rampant in the Republican Party. The reality though is that if you were at a Democratic rally and heard a prominent voice in the party speak of "breeding" and blood lines in relation to immigrants, unless you had a time machine and went back a few decades, your head would spin. At a recent anti-immigration rally Tea Party Community co-founder Ken Crow did just that. Crow strode up to the mic and delivered a speech that sounded like a segregationist preaching the purity of the races, but I just confirmed that is indeed 2013 so that just makes Crow a xenophobic and likely racist human being, doesn't it?

Here's the video of Crow's comments:

rest http://aattp.org/racist-tea-party-leader-discusses-proper-breeding-at-anti-immigrant-rally/

Just how toxic is sugar?


Our very first experience of exceptional sweetness—a dollop of buttercream frosting on a parent's finger; a spoonful of strawberry ice cream instead of the usual puréed carrots—is a gustatory revelation that generally slips into the lacuna of early childhood. Sometimes, however, the moment of original sweetness is preserved. A YouTube video from February 2011 begins with baby Olivia staring at the camera, her face fixed in rapture and a trickle of vanilla ice cream on her cheek. When her brother Daniel brings the ice cream cone near her once more, she flaps her arms and arches her whole body to reach it.

Considering that our cells depend on sugar for energy, it makes sense that we evolved an innate love for sweetness. How much sugar we consume, however—as well as how it enters the body and where we get it from in the first place—has changed dramatically over time. Before agriculture, our ancestors presumably did not have much control over the sugars in their diet, which must have come from whatever plants and animals were available in a given place and season. Around 6,000 BC, people in New Guinea began to grow sugarcane, chewing and sucking on the stalks to drink the sweet juice within. Sugarcane cultivation spread to India, where by 500 BC people had learned to turn bowls of the tropical grass's juice into crude crystals. From there sugar traveled with migrants and monks to China, Persia, northern Africa and eventually to Europe in the 11th century.

For more than 400 years, sugar remained a luxury in Europe—an exotic spice—until manufacturing became efficient enough to make "white gold" much more affordable. Christopher Columbus brought sugarcane to the New World in 1493 and in the 16th and 17th centuries European powers established sugarcane plantations in the West Indies and South America. Sugar consumption in England increased by 1,500 percent between the 18th and 19th centuries. By the mid 19th century, Europeans and Americans had come to regard refined sugar as a necessity. Today, we add sugar in one form or another to the majority of processed foods we eat—everything from bread, cereals, crunchy snacks and desserts to soft drinks, juices, salad dressings and sauces—and we are not too stingy about using it to sweeten many raw and whole foods as well.

By consuming so much sugar we are not just demonstrating weak willpower and indulging our sweet tooth—we are in fact poisoning ourselves according to a group of doctors, nutritionists and biologists, one of the most prominent members of which is Robert Lustig of the University of California, San Francisco, famous for his viral YouTube video "Sugar: The Bitter Truth." A few journalists, such as Gary Taubes and Mark Bittman, have reached similar conclusions. Sugar, they argue, poses far greater dangers than cavities and love handles; it is a toxin that harms our organs and disrupts the body's usual hormonal cycles. Excessive consumption of sugar, they say, is one of the primary causes of the obesity epidemic and metabolic disorders like diabetes, as well as a culprit of cardiovascular disease. More than one-third of American adults and approximately 12.5 million children and adolescents in the U.S. are obese. In 1980, 5.6 million Americans were diagnosed with diabetes; in 2011 more than 20 million Americans had the illness.

Credit: Romain Behar, via Wikimedia Commons

The argument that sugar is a toxin depends on some technical details about the different ways the human body gets energy from different types of sugar. Today, Americans eat most of their sugar in two main forms: table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. A molecule of table sugar, or sucrose, is a bond between one glucose molecule and one fructose molecule—two simple sugars with the same chemical formula, but slightly different atomic structures. In the 1960s, new technology allowed the U.S. corn industry to cheaply convert corn-derived glucose intro fructose and produce high fructose corn syrup, which—despite its name—is almost equal parts free-floating fructose and glucose: 55 percent fructose, 42 percent glucose and three percent other sugars. Because fructose is about twice as sweet as glucose, an inexpensive syrup mixing the two was an appealing alternative to sucrose from sugarcane and beets.

Regardless of where the sugar we eat comes from, our cells are interested in dealing with fructose and glucose, not the bulkier sucrose. Enzymes in the intestine split sucrose into fructose and glucose within seconds, so as far as the human body is concerned sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup are equivalent. The same is not true for their constituent molecules. Glucose travels through the bloodstream to all of our tissues, because every cell readily converts glucose into energy. In contrast, liver cells are one of the few types of cells that can convert fructose to energy, which puts the onus of metabolizing fructose almost entirely on one organ. The liver accomplishes this primarily by turning fructose into glucose and lactate. Eating exceptionally large amounts of fructose taxes the liver: it spends so much energy turning fructose into other molecules that it may not have much energy left for all its other functions. A consequence of this energy depletion is production of uric acid, which research has linked to gout, kidney stones and high blood pressure.

The human body strictly regulates the amount of glucose in the blood. Glucose stimulates the pancreas to secrete the hormone insulin, which helps remove excess glucose from blood, and bolsters production of the hormone leptin, which suppresses hunger. Fructose does not trigger insulin production and appears to raise levels of the hormone grehlin, which keeps us hungry. Some researchers have suggested that large amounts of fructose encourage people to eat more than they need. In studies with animals and people by Kimber Stanhope of the University of California Davis and other researchers, excess fructose consumption has increased fat production, especially in the liver, and raised levels of circulating triglycerides, which are a risk factor for clogged arteries and cardiovascular disease. Some research has linked a fatty liver to insulin resistance—a condition in which cells become far less responsive to insulin than usual, exhausting the pancreas until it loses the ability to properly regulate blood glucose levels. Richard Johnson of the University of Colorado Denver has proposed that uric acid produced by fructose metabolism also promotes insulin resistance. In turn insulin resistance is thought to be a major contributor to obesity and Type 2 diabetes; the three disorders often occur together.

Because fructose metabolism seems to kick off a chain reaction of potentially harmful chemical changes inside the body, Lustig, Taubes and others have singled out fructose as the rotten apple of the sugar family. When they talk about sugar as a toxin, they mean fructose specifically. In the last few years, however, prominent biochemists and nutrition experts have challenged the idea that fructose is a threat to our health and have argued that replacing fructose with glucose or other sugars would solve nothing. First, as fructose expert John White points out, fructose consumption has been declining for more than a decade, but rates of obesity continued to rise during the same period. Of course, coinciding trends alone do not definitively demonstrate anything. A more compelling criticism is that concern about fructose is based primarily on studies in which rodents and people consumed huge amounts of the molecule—up to 300 grams of fructose each day, which is nearly equivalent to the total sugar in eight cans of Coke—or a diet in which the vast majority of sugars were pure fructose. The reality is that most people consume far less fructose than used in such studies and rarely eat fructose without glucose.

rest http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/brainwaves/2013/07/15/is-sugar-really-toxic-sifting-through-the-evidence/

The case for paying people more


McDonald's and Walmart, the two biggest private-sector employers in the U.S., don't pay their workers much. This more or less eternal truth is making one of its increasingly frequent appearances in the news this week. McDonald's is catching flak for a "sample monthly budget" for employees that sets aside $20 a month for health insurance and no money at all for heat. (Hey, it's July.) Walmart, meanwhile, is threatening to cut back on plans to open stores in Washington, D.C., after the D.C. council voted to impose a "super minimum wage" of $12.50 an hour on big retailers.

For decades, most discussions of pay levels and income disparity in the U.S. have been accompanied by a pronounced economic fatalism. Pay is set by the market and the labor market has gone global, the reasoning goes — and when a Chinese or Mexican worker can do what an American can for less, wages have to go down. In explaining what's happened to autoworkers, say, that story makes some sense (although it doesn't explain why German autoworkers have for the most part kept their high pay and their jobs while Americans haven't).

But McDonald's burger-flippers and Walmart checkout clerks can't be replaced by overseas workers. Instead, both companies were able to build low pay into their business models from the beginning — McDonald's because so much of its workforce was made up of living-at-home teenagers who did not in fact have to pay for heat, Walmart because of its roots in small Southern towns where wages were low and "living wage" laws unheard of. Now McDonald's is increasingly staffed by grownups (teens have gone from from 45% of its workforce in the 1990s to 33% recently), while Walmart is trying to conquer the big cities of the North. Both companies have been understandably loath to depart from their low-pay traditions, so conflict and criticism are pretty much inevitable. Which is an extremely healthy development.

That's because it's becoming clear that pay levels aren't entirely set by the market. They are also affected by custom, by the balance of power between workers and employers, and by government regulation. Early economists understood that wage setting was "fundamentally a social decision," Jonathan Schlefer wrote on HBR.org last year, but their 20th century successors became fixated on the idea of a "natural law" that kept pay in line with productivity. And this idea that wages are set by inexorable economic forces came to dominate popular discourse as well.

Since 1980, though, overall pay and productivity trends have sharply diverged in the U.S.. And since the 1990s, research on the impact of minimum wage laws has demonstrated that there clearly is some distance between the textbook versions of how wages are set and how it happens in reality. It's not that minimum wage laws work miracles, but they also don't have nearly the downward effect on employment levels that a pure supply-demand model would predict. Not to mention that decades of research at the organizational and individual level have shown the link between pay and on-the-job performance to be extremely tenuous.

If pay levels at Walmart, McDonald's, and elsewhere are at least to some extent a societal choice rather than the natural outcome of economic law, it raises a lot of interesting questions. One is whether the doldrums the U.S. economy has found itself in since the early 2000s might to at least some extent have been inflicted by corporate executives committed to keeping labor costs down. In 1914, Henry Ford famously more than doubled wages at his factories, mainly to fight attrition but also so that Ford's assembly line workers could afford to buy the cars they were making. By that standard, McDonald's and Walmart are doing okay — their workers can afford to buy their (remarkably inexpensive) products. But Ford's workers could buy a lot of other things, too, and they and their counterparts at other automakers went on to form the bulwark of a giant new American middle class that helped drive economic growth for decades.

Economic analysis of Ford's decision has focused on the efficiency gains of paying higher-than-market wages — less turnover and more-productive workers led to higher profits and higher market share, the reasoning goes. That in itself is a big deal. But the even bigger argument that by raising wages Ford might have led a shift in societal norms that put more money in average Americans' pockets, thus boosting consumer spending and economic growth, hasn't had much appeal to mainstream economists in the U.S..

In fact, most of the interest has instead been in how hyperefficient operations like McDonald's and Walmart boost living standards by delivering their products to consumers at ever-lower cost. A few years ago, Jason Furman — recently tapped to become Chairman of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, argued that Walmart was a "progressive success story" because it had driven retail prices down so much. "Even if you grant that Wal-Mart hurts workers in the retail sector — and the evidence for this is far from clear," he wrote, "the magnitude of any potential harm is small in comparison."

It's a provocative argument, and it might even be right. But it's unlikely that it's the whole story. For all its productivity innovations, Walmart has also been a key player in a "race to the bottom" that has tamped down wages and dismantled worker protections in the U.S. in recent decades. It's at least worth asking if the economy would be better off with a race in the opposite direction.

The most outspoken and visible (visible to me, at least) proponent of this view over the past couple of years has been, interestingly enough, Business Insider editor-in-chief Henry Blodget. As he put it on May Day this year, corporate America's penchant for putting short-term shareholder interests above those of workers "is actually starving the rest of the economy of revenue growth." Can Blodget prove this? No. Is it a valid topic for economic research and political debate that ought to be getting more attention? You betcha.

rest http://blogs.hbr.org/fox/2013/07/the-case-for-paying-people-mor.html

yet another hedge fund fraud


On Aug. 4, 2012, a bright young mortgage department employee at J.P. Morgan named Ben Sayer was all smiles: The head of a rapidly expanding hedge fund said to have almost $200 million in assets—one Anthony Davian of Davian Capital Advisors—had invited him to attend his fund's annual golf outing for clients at the swanky Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio. And this meant, to Sayer at least, that he might be on the verge of snagging a job offer at Davian's Akron-based fund.

While a job offer at any hedge fund certainly represented a dream opportunity to him, the prospect of being offered a slot at Davian Capital was something apart: It was a fast-growing and remarkably successful effort, with annual returns allegedly exceeding 20 percent when other, much more well-known funds were struggling to earn half as much.

Better still, Sayer liked the way that Davian himself used social media—Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other services—to share ideas and market his two funds. It seemed to Sayer, a 27-year-old University of Akron graduate, that Davian was as willing to swap insights with him as readily as he would kick around ideas with veteran traders managing hundreds of millions of dollars. Davian's informality and willingness to engage in dialogue made him appear entirely different from the hedge fund industry legends in New York.

Sayer was right about one thing: Davian eventually did offer him a job as an analyst at Davian Capital and he could dream, briefly at least, of acquiring the experience that would propel him to riches and perhaps enable him to launch his own fund one day.

But within a month of Sayer's taking the position, the smile had vanished from his face and questions about the firm came to him fast and hard. Not only could he not get a straight answer from Davian about where the $200 million of client capital was, but by this past June, the fund itself had come to a standstill after being besieged by fraud allegations from all directions.

Things got even worse: After Anthony Davian's wife found him passed out in their car suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning earlier this month, he was rushed to the intensive care unit of a hospital. Meanwhile, a growing number of regulators swarmed over the fund asking some very pointed questions about what had happened.

When the Southern Investigative Reporting Foundation examined the fund's documents and conducted multiple interviews with investors and the fund's founder and employees, it uncovered a very different reality behind the well-constructed image of Anthony Davian and his fund. It appears that Davian's greatest accomplishment may be the invention and marketing of his image as a tech-savvy fund manager of an immensely successful hedge fund portfolio.

While Davian's assertions that his fund's asset base reached about $200 million appear to be pure fiction, there's no doubt that the fund's investors have suffered sharp losses in their investments, with the extent of the damage still unknown. Though the Davian Capital Advisors drama can't rival other hedge fund sagas in size, for sheer difficulty in sorting out the true from the false it has few rivals.


If potential investors had done any advance digging, they might have encountered several red flags in Anthony Davian's background. Raised in the Greater Cleveland area, Davian attended Holy Name High School in Parma and the University of Akron, from which he claimed to have received a 2003 degree in accounting, following a course of study that helped make him "a lethal short seller."

While Davian did attend the University of Akron and appears to have studied some accounting, he did not graduate, according to the school's registrar's office. Moreover, according to public records, the school had a $2,221 lien in place on Davian's assets as of April 2011 for nonpayment of unspecified debts. An attempt to garnish Davian's wages from a series of bank accounts he disclosed to the courts proved unsuccessful in 2011 and 2012 since the accounts were closed or empty.

Some years earlier, in April 2003, Davian had sought personal bankruptcy protection from his creditors in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Ohio, and the online record indicates he was granted relief by that July. At least six other claims against Davian from creditors remain outstanding, including another lien attached by a law firm he once hired.

rest http://sirf-online.org/2013/07/15/the-erstwhile-hedge-fund-king-of-akron-ohios-very-hard-summer/

Friday, July 19, 2013

Virginia Gubernatorial Candidate Campaigns On Effort To Restore Ban On Oral Sex


In an unusual move, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R), his party's nominee for governor, launched a new campaign website Wednesday highlighting his efforts to reinstate Virginia's unconstitutional Crimes Against Nature law. The rule, which makes felons out of even consenting married couples who engage in oral or anal sex in the privacy of their own homes, was struck down by federal courts after Cuccinelli blocked efforts to bring it in line with the Supreme Court's 2003 Lawrence v. Texas ruling.

The new site, vachildpredators.com, highlights 90 people identified "sexual predators" in Virginia who have been charged under the law since the 2003 ruling, which held that states could not ban private, non-commercial sexual relations between consenting adults. Cuccinelli warns that these offenders "could come off Virginia's sex offender registry if a Virginia law used to protect children is not upheld," and identifies the sodomy law as only the "Anti-Child Predators Law." While it is true that many sex offenders are charged under the Crimes Against Nature law, it is far from the only tool prosecutors have to punish child predators.

The law states, "If any person carnally knows in any manner any brute animal, or carnally knows any male or female person by the anus or by or with the mouth, or voluntarily submits to such carnal knowledge, he or she shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony…" Cuccinelli claims that the law "is only applied to sodomy committed against minors, against non-consenting adults, or in public," but fails to mention that what he wants to keep on the books criminalizes the private behavior of consenting grownups.

In fact, Cuccinelli is a major reason that the provisions of this particular law governing non-consensual sex were left vulnerable to court challenge. In 2004, a bipartisan group in the Virginia General Assembly backed a bill that would have brought the law in line with the Supreme Court's ruling. They proposed to eliminate the Crimes Against Nature law's provisions dealing with consenting adults in private and leaving in place provisions relating to prostitution, public sex, and those other than consenting adults. Cuccinelli opposed the bill in committee and helped kill it on the Senate floor.

In 2009, he told a newspaper why he supported restrictions on the sexual behavior of consenting adults: "My view is that homosexual acts, not homosexuality, but homosexual acts are wrong. They're intrinsically wrong. And I think in a natural law based country it's appropriate to have policies that reflect that. … They don't comport with natural law." As a result of Cuccinelli's homophobia, the law's text remains unchanged a decade after the Supreme Court's ruling.

While Cuccinelli tries to spin his efforts as "Virginia's appeal to preserve a child-protection statute," this amounts to little more than his attempt to restore the state's unconstitutional ban on oral sex.

rest http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2013/07/17/2315251/virginia-cuccinelli-oral-sex/

Former Mobil VP Warns of Fracking and Climate Change


Few people can explain gas and oil drilling with as much authority as Louis W. Allstadt. As an executive vice president of Mobil Oil who ran the company's exploration and production operations in the western hemisphere before he retired in 2000. In 31 years with the company he also was in charge of its marketing and refining in Japan, and managed its worldwide supply, trading and transportation operations. Just before retiring, he oversaw Mobil's side of its merger with Exxon, creating the world's largest corporation.

The first in a modest Long Island German-American family to graduate from college (the US Merchant Marine Academy), Allstadt got a master's degree in business administration from Columbia University then was hired by Mobil. Before his retirement he wasn't aware of a new, sophisticated form of rock fracture, high-volume hydraulic fracturing, developed only in the late 1990s. "It just wasn't on our radar at that time," he said. "We were heavily focused on developing conventional oil and gas offshore in deep water."

Quaint, arty Cooperstown, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame, is perched on the shores of Lake Otsego, which supplies drinking water to the village and glimmering, placid expanses for kayakers and boaters. Allstadt launched his leisure years in this idyllic spot, intending to leave the industry behind. He founded an art gallery with his wife, Melinda Hardin, made pottery, kayaked, taught other people to kayak, and played tennis. But then friends started asking him questions about fracking - it had been proposed near the lake. What he saw as he began investigating the technology and regulations proposed by New York's state Department of Environmental Conservation (1,500 pages titled "Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement, a.k.a. 'the SGEIS ' ") alarmed him. In these pages last year he called high-volume fracking "conventional drilling on steroids." "Just horrible," is how he described the 2011 SGEIS in our conversation in June 2013.

Allstadt has become an indispensable guide for one of the country's most powerful environmental movements, New York's grass-roots anti-fracking resistance. Recently he was elected a Cooperstown Trustee. He is modest and low-key, his authority hallmarked by personal understatement. He said this interview was a first for him: earlier talks and interviews have focused on what he calls "tweaking the technology and [promoting] tighter regulations." Never before has he focused squarely on the industry's impact on the planet's atmosphere.

A note about interview chronology: Allstadt's observations about the Obama climate-change address were added in phone conversations in July 2013. The rest of the interview took place in person in mid-June 2013. A brilliant June sun illuminated the greenery of gardens below the back porch of the Cooperstown house where we spoke. In the driveway, a kayak rested atop a car.

We began by discussing fracking as part of what oil-scholar Michael Klare calls "the race for what's left. "

rest http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/17605-former-mobil-vp-warns-of-fracking-and-climate-change

Tea Party Groups Attacking Obamacare Granted Tax-Exempt Status


The Internal Revenue Service has granted tax-exempt status to a handful of politically active nonprofits, including several tea party groups and a Florida organization called America is Not Stupid, that ran political ads attacking "Obamacare.'"

irs logo.jpgAmerica is Not Stupid is a so-called "social welfare" organization -- a nonprofit that may participate in political activities, including attack ads, as long as that is not the group's primary mission. The group is tied to a Republican political consulting firm from Florida, and in last year's Montana Senate race it ran an ad featuring a talking baby who likened alleged Obama Medicare cuts to his dirty diaper.

The IRS came under fire earlier this year when it was revealed that some agency staff had been using keywords including "tea party" to identify applications from groups hoping to be granted tax-exempt status as "social welfare" organizations (it was later revealed that keywords tied to liberal causes were used as well). The idea was to weed out groups that were too political to meet the IRS guidelines.

Since May, when the scandal first erupted, at least four tea party affiliated groups have been granted exempt status:

  • East Jersey Tea Party, of Jackson, N.J.
  • Flint Hills Tea Party Education Fund, of Manhattan, Kans.
  • Hampton Roads Tea Party, Inc., of Chesapeake, Va.
  • Montana Tea Party, Inc., of Bozeman, Mont.
According to IRS data, 53 other organizations were also granted tax-exempt status in June.

rest http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2013/07/tea-party-groups-attacking-obamacare-granted-tax-exempt-status.html?utm_source=CRP+Mail+List&utm_campaign=b081fb1463-Newsletter_7_19_20137_18_2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_9df8578d78-b081fb1463-210736669

Aurora Remembrance To Be Protested By Gun Supporters Called The 'Westboro Baptist Church Of Gun Groups'


Survivors of the Aurora theater massacre and families of victims have planned a memorial event around noon on Friday -- an event that has turned into a dual rally for gun control and gun rights.

Beginning Friday afternoon, to mark the one-year anniversary of the Aurora theater mass shooting that killed 12 people and injured another 70, the names of Aurora shooting victims -- as well the names of thousands of other victims of gun violence -- will be read in memorial to them. The reading will continue until 12:38 a.m. on Saturday, July 20, the exact time that the Aurora shooting began in 2012, when the group will hold a moment of silence for the victims and their families.

The remembrance will be joined by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a gun control group co-chaired by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, as well as several Newtown families and gun violence prevention advocates. The event is part of Mayors Against Illegal Guns "No More Names" bus tour to reduce gun violence.

"I will forever live with the immense grief that comes with losing a child," said Tom Sullivan, whose 27-year-old son Alex was killed in the Aurora theater shooting. "Too many people had to bury their loved ones after the massacre in Aurora, and too many Americans continue to see the tragic toll of gun violence each and every day in this country. As we remember my son and the victims of Aurora today, I hope our nation will take meaningful action to protect our families by keeping guns out of the wrong hands – so no more fathers have to experience this anguish."

But the victims, their families and the members of Mayors Against Illegal Guns will also be joined by Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, a pro-gun group that will be holding a protest for gun rights during the Aurora memorial. Both the memorial and the protest are scheduled to begin at noon on Friday.

The Associated Press reports that both groups were issued permits for locations at Cherry Creek State Park that are within sight of each other.

Dudley Brown, executive director of RMGO, says that the fact that the memorial was organized by Mayors Against Illegal Guns makes it political, not simply a remembrance.

rest http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/19/aurora-memorial_n_3622921.html?ir=Denver&utm_campaign=071913&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Alert-denver&utm_content=Title

Drones Are Becoming a Major U.S. Export, and They Kill Democracy in Every Nation They're Shipped To


President Obama's drone warfare policy is thankfully finally being discussed in the mainstream media. While the president's claimed authority to suspend the Fifth Amendment and order assassinations with no judicial oversight, even on American soil, is a disturbing outrage, the sale and spread of drone technology by the U.S. around the world also deserves attention.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the United Arab Emirates plans to purchase $179 million worth of drones from General Atomics. The purchase still needs approval from Congress and it is yet unclear whether they will buy surveillance drones or if it will also include the weaponized Reaper drones. What is clear, however, is that this development highlights the continuing growth of the influence of defense contractors, the spread of weapons that help governments tyrannize their citizens, and the dangers of America's permanent warfare state that has made the military-industrial-complex perhaps the most pervasive aspect of American society.

In President Dwight Eisenhower's famous farewell address, he warned the public about the threats that a large armaments industry posed to democratic process, constitutional liberties, and peace. Since then, the U.S. economy has been largely dominated by the perpetuation and exportation of weapons technology and a state of virtual perpetual war all over the globe.

Fifty years later, the U.S. is by far the world's largest weapons dealer in the world and spends more money on "defense" than nearly the rest of the world combined. All around the world, many of the most cruel and vicious states receive their means of maintaining their iron fists from the U.S. government.

American tanks and tear gas help quell protests in Bahrain, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and all throughout the Middle East. U.S. fighter jets are a staple of many militaries in countries where a large majority of their populations live in unbelievable poverty. The cluster bombs used to flatten southern Lebanon and the white phosphorous mercilessly dropped on the Gaza Strip by Israel might as well be draped in the stars and stripes. Even the much-maligned Iranian government received nuclear technology from the CIA.

It is only natural and predictable that the U.S. government's latest militarized technology is beginning to be exported.

The problem stems from America's foolish embrace of a foreign policy based on empire and global dominance, perpetual war, and the corporatist economics of "defense contractors."

The Pentagon's new F-35 program is the perfect example. While DC politicians play politics over a "sequester," the F-35 project will cost $1.5 trillion yet has performed so poorly in recent tests that the Pentagon has simply lowered the standards. It is big, bulky, and would be great against the Imperial Japanese Air Force, but it is completely useless in a world where enemies are increasingly stateless, decentralized and fighting fourth-generation warfare. Over-promising and under-delivering are staples of Pentagon contractors.

rest at http://www.policymic.com/articles/28890/drones-are-becoming-a-major-u-s-export-and-they-kill-democracy-in-every-nation-they-re-shipped-to

Egypt military Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi had planned for months to oust Morsi


The head of Egypt's military, Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, sat with a polite smile in the front row listening to President Mohammed Morsi give a 2 1/2-hour speech defending his year in office. El-Sissi even clapped lightly as the audience of Morsi supporters broke into cheers.

It was a calculating display of cool by an army general plotting the overthrow of his commander in chief. Just over a week later, el-Sissi slid in the knife, announcing Morsi's ouster on state TV on July 3 as troops took the Islamist leader into custody.

The move was the culmination of nearly a year of acrimonious relations between el-Sissi and Egypt's first freely elected — and first civilian — president.

A series of interviews by The Associated Press with defense, security and intelligence officials paint a picture of a president who intended to flex his civilian authority as supreme commander of the armed forces, issuing orders to el-Sissi. In turn, the military chief believed Morsi was leading the country into turmoil and repeatedly challenged him, defying his orders in at least two cases.

The degree of their differences suggests that the military had been planning for months to take greater control of the political reins in Egypt. When an activist group named Tamarod began a campaign to oust Morsi, building up to protests by millions nationwide that began June 30, it appears to have provided a golden opportunity for el-Sissi to get rid of the president. The military helped Tamarod from early on, communicating with it through third parties, according to the officials.

Mideast Egypt President vs General.JPEG

The reason, the officials said, was because of profound policy differences with Morsi. El-Sissi saw him as dangerously mismanaging a wave of protests early in the year that saw dozens killed by security forces. More significantly, however, the military also worried that Morsi was giving a free hand to Islamic militants in the Sinai Peninsula, ordering el-Sissi to stop crackdowns on jihadis who had killed Egyptian soldiers and were escalating a campaign of violence.

"I don't want Muslims to shed the blood of fellow Muslims," Morsi told el-Sissi in ordering a halt to a planned offensive in November, retired army Gen. Sameh Seif el-Yazl told AP. Seif el-Yazl remains close to the military and sometimes appears with el-Sissi at public events.

And at root, the military establishment has historically had little tolerance for the Muslim Brotherhood, Morsi's Islamist group. The military leadership has long held the conviction that the group puts its regional Islamist ambitions above Egypt's security interests.

Its alliances with Gaza's Hamas rulers and other Islamist groups alarmed the military, which believed Gaza militants were involved in Sinai violence. The officials said the military leadership also believed the Brotherhood was trying to co-opt commanders to turn against el-Sissi.

The military has been the most powerful institution in Egypt since officers staged a 1952 coup that toppled the monarchy. Except for Morsi, the military has since given Egypt all of its presidents and maintained a powerful influence over policy. Having a civilian leader over the military was entirely new for the country.

The Brotherhood accuses el-Sissi of turning against them and carrying out a coup to wreck democracy. Since being deposed, Morsi is detained by the military at an undisclosed Defense Ministry facility.

rest http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/disputes-morsi-military-led-egypt-coup-19692858

Detroit Bankrupt: To See Detroit's Decline, Look at 40 Years Of Federal Policy @barackobama @gop


In 1960, the richest per capita city in America, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, was Detroit.

Today Detroit has filed for bankruptcy, the largest American city to do so. This tragedy is a stark reminder of the unintended consequences of federal legislation that resulted in white flight and caused Detroit's current problems.

Before we examine what truly caused the decimation of one the world's richest cities, let us review just how rapidly the conditions in Detroit have declined.

Sixty percent (60%) of all of Detroit's children are living in poverty. Fifty percent of the population has been reported to be functionally illiterate. Thirty-three percent (33%) of Detroit's 140 square miles is vacant or derelict. Eighteen percent (18%) of the population is unemployed. And 10.6% of Detroit's 713,777 residents, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, considered themselves white.

From the New York Times to the Washington Post and across the blue-to-red political spectrum, near universal agreement calls for "letting Detroit go bankrupt."

A major reason for Detroit's economic woes is often cited from a review of U.S. 2010 Census data, which notes Michigan lost 48% of all its manufacturing jobs from 2000-2010. The obvious follow-up question is, why?

A major portion of the answer can be found in national reporting concerning the actual effects of NAFTA. When the North American Free Trade Agreement was first signed in 1994, proponents said it would eventually create jobs for the U.S. economy. Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman was at the forefront of the intellectual push for free trade.

Today, however, a growing number of academic research reports contend NAFTA cost the U.S. millions of manufacturing jobs. According to a report by Economic Policy Institute economist Robert Scott, entitled "Heading South: U.S.-Mexico trade and job displacement after NAFTA," an estimated 682,900 U.S. net jobs have been "lost or displaced" because of the agreement and the resulting trade deficit.

In Union Pacific's 2012 report to stockholders it noted, "We anticipate by 2014 50% of all cars and light trucks sold in the U.S. will be shipped by rail from assembly plants in Mexico. UP has access to all six major Mexico/U.S. rail lines."

In the meantime, America has seen an estimated 1.5–1.75 million service-sector jobs created, which most studies of NAFTA basically confirm. Yet it is the high-skill, high-paying manufacturing and industrial jobs lost to Mexico and other global trade partners which once made Detroit an economic powerhouse.

While many "protectionists" focus on the effects NAFTA had on Detroit and our manufacturing/industrial base as whole, economic historians trace the onset of the Rust Belt to the year 1970. This was the year both the Occupational Health and Safety Act was passed and the Environmental Protection Agency was created. The unintended economic consequences which followed devastated industrial cities from Detroit to Flint to Gary to Toledo to Pittsburgh.

rest http://www.policymic.com/articles/45563/detroit-bankrupt-to-see-detroit-s-decline-look-at-40-years-of-federal-policy