The White House is threatening to veto the House version of a massive, five-year farm bill, saying food stamp cuts included in the legislation could leave some Americans hungry.Maybe he's just upset that the Republicans are trying to out-Pork his own party...
The House is preparing to consider the bill this week. The legislation would cut $2 billion annually, or around 3 percent, from food stamps and make it harder for some people to qualify for the program. Food stamps, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, cost almost $80 billion last year, twice the amount it cost five years ago. …
The White House said in its statement Monday that food stamps are “a cornerstone of our nation’s food assistance safety net.” The administration argued that the House should make deeper cuts to farm subsidies like crop insurance instead.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
The Obama administration is against a farm bill because it isn't expensive enough:
Michael Bloomberg has got competition:
Venezuelan lawmakers are weighing whether to ban the use of baby bottles as part of a push to promote breast-feeding, state media reported.Somewhere, bloomberg is saying, "Gee, why didn't I think of that?"
The proposed measure will be up for debate in the South American country’s National Assembly on Tuesday, lawmaker Odalis Monzon said in an interview with state-run VTV.
“Every baby has the right to breast-feeding,” said Monzon, a lawmaker from the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela.
In addition to banning bottle-feeding, the proposed revisions to Venezuela’s Law of Promotion and Protection of Breastfeeding also include plans to penalize those who advertise baby formula, she said.
Turning the page in Afghanistan:
Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced at a ceremony on Tuesday that his country's armed forces are taking over the lead for security nationwide from the U.S.-led NATO coalition.Here are the keys, Mr. Karzi. Don't wreck it...
The handover of responsibility is a significant milestone in the nearly 12-year war and marks a turning point for American and NATO military forces, which will now move entirely into a supporting role. It also opens the way for their full withdrawal in 18 months.
"This is a historic moment for our country and from tomorrow all of the security operations will be in the hands of the Afghan security forces," Karzai said at the ceremony, held at the new National Defense University built to train Afghanistan's future military officers.
Karzai said that in the coming months, coalition forces will gradually withdraw from Afghanistan's provinces as the country's security forces replace them.
In Australia, playing the gender card fails:
Gillard, the country's first female leader, last week reignited a simmering gender war by saying in a speech that government would be dominated by "men in blue ties" should opposition leader Tony Abbott assume office in September elections.Male bashing isn't always a winning strategy...
"It's a decision about whether, once again, we will banish women's voice from the core of our political life," said the embattled prime minister in the speech, desperate to shore up waning support.
"We don't want to live in an Australia where abortion again becomes the political plaything of men who think they know better."
But the ploy has backfired with a poll in Fairfax Media showing male voters are abandoning Gillard and the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and there is little sign of more women getting behind her.
The telephone poll of 1,400 voters found that since the last survey a month ago Labor's standing has continued to slide, led entirely by a seven percent exodus of men.
I wish this was the explanation for our own Senate:
A parliamentary hearing on Ukraine's budget was suspended on Tuesday when opposition deputies alleged that a deputy finance minister presenting the budget report was drunk.Breathalyzer tests, anyone?
Anatoly Myarkovsky, first deputy finance minister, spoke for 10 minutes on the government's budget performance in 2012.
But when questions were invited, deputies from Ukraine's rowdy opposition called out "He's drunk". One shouted: "Anyone within five metres can tell he reeks of someone who has been drinking vodka. Mr. Speaker, go and sniff for yourself."
Speaker Volodymyr Rybak declined, saying it was not up to him to check on the behaviour of government officials or deputies. But he suspended the budget hearing until it had been clarified whether Myarkovsky had been under the influence or not.
Myarkovsky himself left the chamber as Rybak was speaking. There was no formal word from his office.
A deputy from the ruling Regions party, Volodymyr Makeyenko, sprang to Myarkovsky's defence.
"There wasn't any smell of alcohol coming from the deputy minister. I have known him for 20 years and he's a responsible person - these allegations are just an attempt by the opposition to undermine (parliamentary) proceedings," he told journalists.
An Indiana election thief gets busted:
The plot successfully faked names and signatures on both the Obama and Clinton presidential petitions that were used to place the candidates on the ballot. So many names were forged -- an estimated 200 or more -- that prosecutor Stanley Levco said that had the fraud been caught during the primary, "the worst that would have happened, is maybe Barack Obama wouldn't have been on the ballot for the primary."Quite frankly, I'm surprised that only one 2008 operative is going to jail...
"I think that Obama would still have been elected president, no matter what," he said.
In court, former longtime St. Joseph County Democratic Chairman Butch Morgan, Jr. was sentenced to one year behind bars, and is expected to serve half that, as well as Community Corrections and probation. Former St. Joseph County Board of Elections worker and Democratic volunteer Dustin Blythe received a sentence of one year in Community Corrections and probation, which means no jail time.
An activist provides a counterpoint to other Turkish protests:
Erdem Gunduz said he wanted to take a stand against police stopping demonstrations near the square, the Dogan news agency reported.Say what you will, but sometimes silence is golden...
He stood silently, facing the Ataturk Cultural Centre which was draped in Turkish flags and a portrait of Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, from 6pm on Monday.
By 2am on Tuesday, when the police moved in, about 300 people had joined him. Ten people, who refused to be moved on by police, were detained.
Gunduz, swiftly dubbed "standing man" on social media in Turkey, inspired similar protests elsewhere in Istanbul, as well as in the capital, Ankara, and the city of Izmir on the Aegean coast.
The silent protests were in stark contrast to demonstrations at the weekend, which saw some of the fiercest clashes so far when police fired teargas and water cannons to clear thousands from Taksim Square.
Want a few extra bucks? Sell your Obama phone:
The phones' legitimate purposes include poverty-level job applicants' use as contact numbers for job interviews and emergency contacts for children of single parents.Who says fraud doesn't pay...
But when James O'Keefe, whose Project Veritas is a perennial thorn in the side of progressive policymakers, sent an undercover actor into a Stand Up Wireless location in Philadelphia, the man's stated purpose was to buy drugs.
'Once you guys give me this phone, it's my phone?' he asked an employee inside a Philadelphia brick-and-mortar Stand Up Wireless location. 'I can, like, sell it and stuff?'
'Whatever you want to do with it,' the worker replied.
'So I'm [going to] get some money for heroin,' he offered.
The employee coolly responded, 'Hey, I don't judge.'
Insanity, as defined by the Secretary of Energy:
Moniz put strong faith in solar power during remarks Monday at a Washington, D.C., conference. That continues the trend set forth by his predecessor, Steven Chu, who was a staunch advocate of the renewable energy source.Yes, I'm sure the list of bankruptcies will be quite impressive...
“I would argue that I believe that the scale and time frame of impact of solar technology, I believe, again, is underestimated,” he said at the U.S. Energy Information Administration-hosted event. “There are many situations today when solar is in fact competitive.”
“We are aggressively pursuing this in many dimensions,” he continued. “I think that’s an example of something we will look back on in 10 years and be surprised at the scope.”
Most Americans agree: the White House did it:
A growing number of Americans believe that senior White House officials ordered the Internal Revenue Service to target conservative political groups, according to a new national poll.The Obama administration's response hasn't exactly helped their case, either...
And a CNN/ORC International survey released Tuesday morning also indicates that a majority of the public says the controversy, which involves increased IRS scrutiny of tea party and other conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, is very important to the nation.
Republicans argue that the Obama administration used the IRS to intimidate and harass political opponents. Democrats say poor management at the tax agency, rather than political bias, is to blame. Congressional sources on both sides say that interviews with IRS workers so far have found no political conspiracy.
Last month only 37% of the public thought that the IRS controversy led to the White House, with 55% saying that agency officials acted on their own without direct orders from Washington. Now the number who say the White House directed that IRS program has increased 10 points, to 47%, virtually the same as the 49% who believe the IRS agents acted on their own.
In Michigan, digging for Jimmy Hoffa:
Anthony J. Zerilli, who recently published a manuscript about his claims that is sold online at HoffaFound.com, told agents that mobsters buried Hoffa alive on the property in 1975, after kidnapping him from a Bloomfield Township restaurant.The search goes on...
Zerilli describes himself as a good friend of the former Teamsters president. He claims he learned about Hoffa's disappearance from the "inner circle" of the Detroit mafia.
"There was an old house with an old barn on the property," Zerilli wrote, according to a copy of the manuscript handed out by a man near where FBI agents are digging. "As soon as they pulled near the barn, Hoffa was dragged out of the car, and bound and gagged. A shallow hole was already dug in the barn floor. He put up a fight, but he was easily overpowered. …(One of the men) picked up a shovel and cracked Hoffa over the head with it. …They threw him into the hole, and buried him alive. He wasn't shot, he wasn't stabbed, nothing like that. A cement slab of some sort was placed on top of the dirt to make certain he was not going to be discovered. And that was it. End of story."
Just after 11 a.m. Monday, a large truck pulling a trailer carrying a backhoe pulled onto the property. By 2 p.m., the digger was moving about the large, grassy field, surrounded by yellow police tape, a swarm of television satellite trucks and media waiting down the dirt road.
President Obama hunkers down:
The president insisted that he had implemented additional safeguards to protect personal privacy, and sought to contrast his polices with the Bush administration amid charges that the surveillance programs highlight his own hypocrisy.The jury seems to be out on that one...
“Some people say ‘Well, you know, Obama was this raving liberal before. Now he’s, you know, Dick Cheney,” Obama said. “Dick Cheney sometimes says, 'Yeah, you know? He took it all lock, stock, and barrel.’
“My concern has always been not that we shouldn’t do intelligence gathering to prevent terrorism, but rather, are we setting up a system of checks and balances?” Obama said.
Monday, June 17, 2013
It's the world's last telegram:
Telegraph services ended in the United States seven years ago, but in India, the century-and-a-half old communication medium is still widely used to send messages. Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), India’s state-owned telecom company, recently printed a message reads, “GRANDMOTHER SERIOUS. 15 DAYS LEAVE EXTENSION,” according to the Christian Science Monitor.The telegraph was one of the first means of mass communication, now obsolete. Stop.
Approximately 5,000 messages are sent every day by telegram in India, a service favored for its “sense of urgency and authenticity,” a BSNL official told the Monitor.
Once the world’s fastest form of communication, telegrams can no longer compete with text messaging and smartphones, however.
"We were incurring losses of over $23 million a year because SMS and smartphones have rendered this service redundant," said Shamim Akhtar, general manager of BSNL's telegraph services. The agency did not say what the contents of the final message would be.
About that Arizona immigration ruling:
Scalia said that the presumption doesn't apply because Congress enacted the law under the Elections Clause. (Art. I, §4, cl. 1: "The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the places of chusing Senators.”)Did Arizona overreach? More to come...
Justice Kennedy, concurring, rejected the idea of "a hierarchy of federal powers so that some statutes pre-empting state law must be interpreted by different rules than others, all depending upon which power Congress has exercised." It's still an area of traditional state regulation, and it would make more sense to question the presumption — he says, citing an old Scalia concurrence that did just that — than to minimize the state's concern, given that they are acting in "their own historic role in the conduct of elections." But Kennedy concurs because there's no ambiguity in the National Voter Registration Act that the presumption would resolve. The preemption is clear.
Only 2 justices dissented. Justice Thomas said the Constitution gives the states the exclusive authority over voter qualifications and over whether those qualifications are met, so he adopted the narrower interpretation of the NVRA to avoid an unnecessary constitutional question. Justice Alito said that the Court got it "exactly backwards" when it rejected the presumption against preemption because of the Elections Clause. The Elections Clause manifests a reservation of "default responsibility" to the states, so Congress should have to "speak clearly" to displace the states as they carry out this function the Constitution explicitly assigned to them.
North Korea comes with instructions:
A report from New Focus International, a North Korean news organization that runs underground to avoid the scrutiny of the tyrannical government, senior government officials got copies of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf for Kim Jong Un’s birthday in January.They seem to have been doing that for quite some time now...
Only a few copies were handed out, since most books are banned in the country; such gifts are called “hundred-copy books” in North Korea. According to the report, the book was not intended to idolize the anti-Semitic aspects of Nazism, but to focus in on Hitler’s plans for economic recovery in the country. “Kim Jong Un gave a lecture to high-ranking officials, stressing that we must pursue the policy of Byungjin in terms of nuclear and economic development,” the government source said. “Mentioning that Hitler managed to rebuild Germany in a short time following its defeat in World War One, Kim Jong Un issued an order for the Third Reich to be studied in depth and asked that practical applications be drawn from it.”
They want information:
A new 253-page Obamacare rule issued late Friday requires state, federal and local agencies as well as health insurers to swap the protected personal health information of anybody seeking to join the new health care program that will be enforced by the Internal Revenue Service.Judging by their recent actions, I'd be worried, too...
Protected health information, or PHI, is highly protected under federal law, but the latest ruling from the Department of Health and Human Services allows agencies to trade the information to verify that Obamacare applicants are getting the minimum amount of health insurance coverage they need from the health "exchanges."
The ruling, explained on pages 72-73 of the book-thick guidance, does not mention any requirement that applicants first OK the release of their PHI. HHS already allows some exchange of PHI without an individual's pre-approval, especially when for a "government program providing public benefits." Officials said the swapping of information is simply meant to help figure the best insurance coverge of Obamacare users.
The new ruling surprised some congressional critics. "This sounds as if HHS will have access to protected health info to me," said one top Hill aide worried about how well the administration will protect that information.
Maybe they really are taking over:
Morris, a black-and-white kitten with orange eyes, is running for mayor of Xalapa in eastern Mexico with the campaign slogan "Tired of Voting for Rats? Vote for a Cat." And he is attracting tens of thousands of politician-weary, two-legged supporters on social media.The good news: they couldn't be any worse than what Mexico has right now. The bad news: other people still have to clean up the messes they leave behind...
"He sleeps almost all day and does nothing, and that fits the profile of a politician," said 35-year-old office worker Sergio Chamorro, who adopted the 10-month-old feline last year.
Put forth as a candidate by Chamorro and a group of friends after they became disillusioned with the empty promises of politicians, Morris' candidacy has resonated across Mexico, where citizens frustrated with human candidates are nominating their pets and farm animals to run in July 7 elections being held in 14 states.
Also running for mayor are "Chon the Donkey" in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, "Tina the Chicken" in Tepic, the capital of the Pacific coast state of Nayarit, "Maya the Cat" in the city of Puebla and "Tintan the Dog" in Oaxaca City, though their campaigns are not as well organized as that of Morris.
Zero Tolerance doesn't work:
“These zero-tolerance policies are psychotic, in the strict sense of the word: psychotic means ‘out of touch with reality,’” Dr. Leonard Sax, a Pennsylvania psychologist and family physician, and author of “Boys Adrift,” told FoxNews.com.Granted, lots of kids have always felt that way, but now schools are giving them an actual reason to do so...
“Out-of-touch policies such as these, which criminalize behaviors which have always been common among young kids, are contributing to the growing proportion of American kids, especially boys, who regard school as a stupid waste of time and who can’t wait to get out of school so that they can get back to playing their video games,” Sax said.
Sunday, June 16, 2013
In Russia, ring wears you:
President Vladimir Putin's spokesman denied that the leader kept a Super Bowl ring that New England Patriots' owner Robert Kraft wanted back.There is only one Lord of the Ring, only one who can bend it to his will. And he does not share power...
Both sides agree that the ring, with its 124 diamonds, changed hands during Kraft's visit to St. Petersburg, Russia, in 2005.
The New York Post reported on remarks made by Kraft, 72, at a New York awards gala Thursday.
"I took out the ring and showed it to (Putin). And he put it on and he goes, 'I can kill someone with this ring,'" Kraft said, according to the New York Post. "I put my hand out and he put it in his pocket, and three KGB guys got around him and walked out."
The age of the Internet balloons?
Still in their experimental stage, the balloons were the first of thousands that Google's leaders eventually hope to launch 12 miles into the stratosphere in order to bridge the gaping digital divide between the world's 4.8 billion unwired people and their 2.2 billion plugged-in counterparts.As anyone in the NSA can tell you...
If successful, the technology might allow countries to leapfrog the expense of laying fiber cable, dramatically increasing Internet usage in places such as Africa and Southeast Asia.
"It's a huge moonshot. A really big goal to go after," said project leader Mike Cassidy. "The power of the Internet is probably one of the most transformative technologies of our time."
Saturday, June 15, 2013
Who really owns "Happy Birthday?"
Good Morning to You Productions Corp. has filed a lawsuit on behalf of all those in film, television and elsewhere who are paying for rights to "Happy Birthday." The plaintiff aims to force Warner/Chappell Music to return millions of dollars collected over the years for what the lawsuit calls "the world's most popular song."If the original isn't in the public domain by now, maybe it ought to be...
Why "Happy Birthday" is under copyright is complicated.
When the Hill sisters first composed the song in 1893, it was called "Good Morning to All." Somewhere along the line the tune evolved into the version that is currently popular. The song has traditionally been regarded as copyrighted because the lyrics appeared in a songbook in 1924 and a piano arrangement was published in 1935. As such, it would neatly fit into changes in copyright law that conferred a lengthy 95 years of protection for works created after 1923. Had the songbook been published any earlier, there wouldn't be any question as to whether a license fee was needed when, for example, Marilyn Monroe sang it to John F. Kennedy in 1962.
Now, the documentary film company says it has "irrefutable documentary evidence, some dating back to 1893, [which] shows that the copyright to 'Happy Birthday,' if there ever was a valid copyright to any part of the song, expired no later than 1921 and that if defendant Warner/Chappell owns any rights to 'Happy Birthday,' those rights are limited to the extremely narrow right to reproduce and distribute specific piano arrangements for the song published in 1935."
Rick Santorum, middle-class warrior?
“One after another, [business owners who were invited to speak] talked about the business they had built. But not a single—not a single —factory worker went out there,” Santorum told a few hundred conservative activists at an “after-hours session” of the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in Washington. “Not a single janitor, waitress or person who worked in that company! We didn’t care about them. You know what? They built that company too! And we should have had them on that stage.”…Santorum is attempting to push back against the Stupid Party label here, and, as Allahpundit puts it:
“When all you do is talk to people who are owners, talk to folks who are ‘Type As’ who want to succeed economically, we’re talking to a very small group of people,” he said. “No wonder they don’t think we care about them. No wonder they don’t think we understand them. Folks, if we’re going to win, you just need to think about who you talk to in your life.”
I thought, and do think, that O’s “you didn’t build that” line was a window onto his essential statism, an unusually blunt expression of contempt for private initiative. It’s one thing to demand higher taxes for the rich, it’s another to deny entrepreneurs, even rhetorically, the credit they deserve for having taken great risk to build wealth-generating enterprises. If you’re a true-believing libertarian-leaning capitalist, it’s Obama at his sneering liberal worst. But here’s the thing, and it’s something I’m reminded of constantly: Most voters aren’t ideologues. One of the lessons of last year’s campaign was that 99 percent of the daily “gaffes” and kerfuffles that political media, left and right, regularly wets its pants over mean next to nothing to the average joe. If you’re going to devote an entire convention to the other guy’s allegedly damning gaffe, you’d best be sure that gaffe is really, really damning in the eyes of most voters. It is to an ideologue like me and to America’s proud entrepreneurs. What about the other 80 percent of the electorate?It may be just political hindsight, but Santorum does have a point. But is he the one who should be making it?
The well has officially run dry:
"We’re tapped out," Orr was quoted by WWJ-TV as saying. "We need to come up with a plan to restructure our debt obligations and our legacy obligations going forward — that is: pension, other employee benefits, health care, so on and so forth."Detroit dug its own hole for decades. Welcome to rock bottom.
Orr said everyone involved needs to come to grips with Detroit's dire financial situation that has been worsened by years of procrastination and denial. He said his team is prepared for potential lawsuits from creditors not pleased with the arrangements under the plan.
"If people are sincere and look at this data, you would think a rational person will step back and say, 'This is not normal ... but what choice do we have?'" Orr said.
When the going gets weird, the weird turn paranormal:
Randy Phillips, CEO of AEG Live, claimed the legendary star had insisted from beyond the grave that his death was an accident, thus clearing Dr Conrad Murray, who has been jailed for delivering a fatal overdose of a sedative in 2009.Well, if you can't trust a ghost, whom can you trust?
Speaking to members of the jury at the Los Angeles County Superior Court , Mr Phillips is said to have claimed the supernatural encounter was delivered via his friend Brenda Richie, the ex-wife of musician Lionel Richie.
The Sun quotes him as saying in court: 'Brenda called me to tell me that she was in communications with Michael, either through a medium or directly. She said Michael told her it wasn’t Dr Murray’s fault - that he had accidentally killed himself.'
Judge Yvette Palazuelos is said to have 'let the testimony stand', as Mr Phillips responded to questioning about an email he sent back in August 2009.
It said: 'I think I know what MJ died of and this would exonerate Conrad.'
Why the great American Experiment works:
The only truly new political idea in the last couple thousand years is this libertarian idea, broadly understood. The revolution wrought by John Locke, Edmund Burke, Adam Smith, and the Founding Fathers is the only real revolution going. And it’s still unfolding.Truly successful revolutions-whether they are social, or political-are open to innovations and independent, original thinking from the people. State-run "revolutions" aren't, and therefore always fail.
What made the American experiment new were its libertarian innovations, broadly speaking. Moreover, those innovations made us prosper. Even Sweden — the liberal Best in Show — owes its successes to its libertarian concessions.
Friday, June 14, 2013
Government exchanges don't seem to be that popular:
Early looks at insurance offerings on the Obamacare exchanges show that insurers aren't exactly signing up in droves to sell on the new Small Business Health Option Program exchanges. In some states, just one insurer has signed up for the SHOP exchanges, which are supposed to foster competition and make it easier for small businesses to purchase coverage. The SHOP exchanges exist alongside the exchanges for individuals, which have gotten more attention in preparation for the health law’s rollout.Government-controlled markets don't seem to do as well as the real thing...
The Obama administration is still trying to recruit insurers to states where there’s been little interest in exchanges. But some health law advocates believe administration health officials have put a greater emphasis on standing up the individual exchanges, where they hope premium tax credits will be a big draw for millions to sign up for coverage next year.
In many cases, they also see little incentive for SHOP exchanges in 2014. A limited tax credit for small businesses available only in the SHOP exchanges has so far received less interest than expected, and a key feature providing employees with more freedom to pick their health plan has been delayed in most states.
Iran has an election, sort of:
50 million eligible voters had a choice between six candidates to replace incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but none is seen as challenging the Islamic Republic's 34-year-old system of clerical rule.Regardless of who wins, it's pretty clear who's in charge...
The first presidential poll since a disputed 2009 contest led to months of unrest is unlikely to change rocky ties between the West and the OPEC nation of 75 million, but it may bring a softening of the antagonistic style favored by Ahmadinejad.
World powers in talks with Iran over its nuclear program are looking for any signs of a recalibration of its negotiating stance after eight years of intransigence under Ahmadinejad.
Voting in the capital Tehran, Khamenei called on Iranians to vote in large numbers and derided Western misgivings about the credibility of the vote.
"I recently heard that someone at the U.S. National Security Council said 'we do not accept this election in Iran'," he said.
"We don't give a damn," he added.
Maybe we really are in the next Dark Ages:
If you've started to think of yourself as a hapless peasant in a Game of Thrones power struggle, you're more right than you may realize. These are not traditional companies, and we are not traditional customers. These are feudal lords, and we are their vassals, peasants, and serfs.But even the peasants want privacy...
Power has shifted in IT, in favor of both cloud-service providers and closed-platform vendors. This power shift affects many things, and it profoundly affects security.
Democracy still works, even in New Jersey:
Fortunately for property owners, Hackensack’s entire city council was booted out of office. The grassroots group Citizens for Change won every single seat on the city council, despite being outraised 2:1. Their slate of candidates successfully ran on a platform against costly litigation, nepotism, and corruption. (For example, Hackensack’s police chief was recently convicted for official misconduct and insurance fraud.) Citizens for Change also sharply criticized Hackensack’s redevelopment projects, calling them “sweetheart deals and special privileges for politically connected property owners and developers.”Property rights matter. Tell your local politicians.
Going green can cost you:
The popularity of these fuel-efficient vehicles is being blamed for a drop in gasoline taxes that pay for local highway and bridge maintenance, with three states enacting rules to make up the losses with added fees on the cars and at least five others weighing similar legislation.The politicians haven't kept up with the technology, so...tax the technology? Yeah, this will go over well...
"The intent is that people who use the roads pay for them," said Arizona state Senator Steve Farley, a Democrat from Tucson who wrote a bill to tax electric cars. "Just because we have somebody who is getting out of doing it because they have an alternative form of fuel, that doesn't mean they shouldn't pay for the roads."
Electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid auto sales jumped almost 60 percent in 2012 from the preceding year, representing 3.3 percent of the 14.4 million cars sold, the data showed.
Opponents say taxing the vehicles contradicts government promotion of renewable energy, and the hybrid-electric share of the auto market is too little to cut into taxes. The federal government offers a tax credit from $2,500 to $7,500 on the purchase of a new plug-in electric car based on the traction battery capacity and the gross weight rating.
Boosting taxes "for people who want to use less gas is at odds with policies that are trying to make it easier for people who want to adopt clean and efficient technologies," Genevieve Cullen, vice president of the Electric Drive Transportation Association, a Washington-based industry group, said in a telephone interview.
Fuel taxes provide close to 40 percent of state revenue for highways, according to a 2012 report by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
"Yet these revenues have not kept pace with needs, partly due to changing travel patterns and fewer miles driven nationwide," the report said. "Improvements in vehicle fuel efficiency and growing use of alternative fuels also present serious challenges."
Looking for a unique travel destination this summer?
Uri Tours is a lean operation with a five-person staff, yet it has managed to become the sole nongovernmental ticket agent for Air Koryo, the state-run airline, and Lee claims that her company has a 33 percent market share of all foreigners’ trips to the Hermit Kingdom. Indeed, the travel agency helped organize the visits of the New York Philharmonic in February 2008, of Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt and former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson this past January, and of Dennis Rodman and Vice magazine in March—the subject of this Friday’s season finale of the HBO documentary series Vice. (“Uri,” by the way, is Korean for “our,” but also means “community” and “unity,” according to the travel agency’s website.)Oh, look at the starving people over there-how quaint...
“Yes, there is a really nasty side of [North Korean] society,” Lee acknowledges. “But I think the more people go there and engage and interact with the people there, it’s just going to have a more beneficial effect.” The trips, meanwhile, are “very structured and regimented, and you can argue that you’re only going to see one side of the country—you’re not going to see everything when you go in,” she says. “You’re not going to see concentration camps. Some people have asked, ‘Can we see a public execution?’ That’s crazy! No! We wouldn’t even know how to do that.”
Thursday, June 13, 2013
How to save money by going green:
World Bank staff, who travel across the planet in their duties, are major users of business and first-class airplane seats. Staff at World Bank headquarters in Washington took more than 189,000 trips in 2009, totaling 447 million miles. Some 73.6 percent of those miles were in business class and another 6.9 percent in first class. (Most first-class travel has since been eliminated.)Practice what you preach. Heh.
The authors note that for an organization that has made climate change a top priority, it might want to assess its travel policies to offset the higher carbon footprint of its pricier air travel.
They stopped short of making a recommendation about how to achieve that offset. But herewith two very easy solutions:
Travel less. And when they do travel, sit in the back of the bus with the rest of us.
Here we go:
"The president has made a decision about providing more support to the opposition that will involve providing direct support to the [Supreme Military Council]. That includes military support," Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communication Ben Rhodes told reporters.Well, it looks like McCain and his "friends" got what they wanted. Now what?
President Obama has repeatedly said that the use of chemical weapons is a "red line" that, if crossed, would be a "game changer" for more U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil war.
"The President has been clear that the use of chemical weapons - or the transfer of chemical weapons to terrorist groups - is a red line for the United States," said Rhodes in a separate written statement.
"The President has said that the use of chemical weapons would change his calculus, and it has," he continued.
In terms of further response, Rhodes said, "we will make decisions on our own timeline" and that Congress and the international community would be consulted. Mr. Obama is heading to Northern Ireland Sunday for a meeting of the G8 group of nations; Rhodes indicated the president will consult with leaders of those countries.
"Any future action we take will be consistent with our national interest, and must advance our objectives, which include achieving a negotiated political settlement to establish an authority that can provide basic stability and administer state institutions; protecting the rights of all Syrians; securing unconventional and advanced conventional weapons; and countering terrorist activity," Rhodes said.
It seems they still have a few things to work out:
Here's the problem:Maybe this is why more politicians are abandoning ship. But hey, at least you can still get a free bumper sticker!
The law requires medium-sized and large employers to offer what it calls "affordable" coverage or face fines.
But policy experts and corporate consultants say the definition of "affordable" can mean premiums up to 9.5 percent of an employee's income.
And that could be unaffordable for many people making around $20,000 a year or a few thousand more.
Some supporters of the law are disappointed. They say a fix will be needed.
Your genes are your own:
Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the court, said the genes Myriad isolated are products of nature, which aren't eligible for patents.Score one for personal property from your person, and another reason to be thankful for Clarence Thomas.
"Myriad did not create anything," Justice Thomas wrote in an 18-page opinion. "To be sure, it found an important and useful gene, but separating that gene from its surrounding genetic material is not an act of invention."
Even if a discovery is brilliant or groundbreaking, that doesn't necessarily mean it's patentable, the court said.
The State Department, a den of crooks?
A whistleblower charges that State tried to cover up multiple scandals by removing them from an inspector general’s report.The country is in the very best of hands...
“Department intakes of new . . . officers since the hiring surge a decade ago have reportedly been flawed, with ‘mitigation’ of troubling histories including criminal matters,” according to a December 2012 memo to State Deputy Inspector General Harold Geisel from a team leader in the IG’s Office.
The memo goes on to state that the troubling backgrounds can pose a problem if the agents are needed to testify at trials to assist prosecutors.
“Too many people entering the [Diplomatic Security and Information Management] communities end up as subjects of [Special Investigation Division] investigations and HR adjudications, become Giglio-impaired and can play only limited roles thereafter,” according to the memo.
“Giglio” refers to a US Supreme Court case dealing with jury notification that witnesses have made deals with the government to induce testimony.
Some Diplomatic Security field offices “have major problems just waiting to be discovered,” the memo adds.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
While you weren't looking:
Buried in a little-noticed rule on microwave ovens is a change in the U.S. government’s accounting for carbon emissions that could have wide-ranging implications for everything from power plants to the Keystone XL pipeline.Not for this administration...
The increase of the so-called social cost of carbon, to $38 a metric ton in 2015 from $23.80, adjusts the calculation the government uses to weigh costs and benefits of proposed regulations. The figure is meant to approximate losses from global warming such as flood damage and diminished crops.
Even supporters questioned the way the administration slipped the policy out without first opening it for public comment. The change was buried in an afternoon announcement on May 31 about efficiency standards for microwave ovens, a rule not seen as groundbreaking.
“This is a very strange way to make policy about something this important,” Frank Ackerman, an economist at Tufts University who published a book about the economics of global warming, said in an interview. The Obama administration “hasn’t always leveled with us about what is happening behind closed doors.”
Industry representatives are equally puzzled.
“It’s a pretty important move. To do this without any outside participation is bizarre,” said Jeff Holmstead, a lawyer at Bracewell & Giuliani LLP (1222L) representing coal-dependent power producers and other industry groups.
Well, this makes sense:
The CIA’s deputy director plans to retire and will be replaced by White House lawyer and agency outsider Avril D. Haines, Director John O. Brennan said Wednesday.I guess these days, you take help where you can get it...
Haines, who will succeed career officer Michael Morell on Aug. 9, has served for three years as President Obama’s deputy counsel in charge of national security issues and as legal adviser to the National Security Council. Although she has never worked inside the intelligence agency, “she knows more about covert action than anyone in the U.S. government outside of the CIA,” Brennan said in his first interview since becoming CIA director in March.
The surprise move gives Brennan an ally in the CIA’s executive suite who helped him rewrite the rules of the drone campaign that were recently announced by Obama. Unlike an agency insider, Haines has no direct investment in any of the counterterrorism programs that Brennan has indicated he will seek to rein in.
So who is the latest Obamacare critic?
“There’s a great deal of uncertainty almost everywhere you look,” said Mark Moody, the president and chief executive officer of WEA Trust, which offers insurance to Wisconsin school districts, state health plan members, and local units of government. “There will be horror stories, stories of so-called train wrecks,” Moody said at the panel discussion organized by Wisconsin Health News. “It will be a difficult process to get the exchanges started. … I think fundamentally the Affordable Care Act is on the right track but it’s going to be a long, slow process.”For something that's on the "right track," there seems to be a lot of derailing going on...
1984, knocking at your door:
Amazon has recorded a spike in sales of the George Orwell novel, “1984” in the wake of revelations about the National Security Agency's data collection programs.Big Brother, what hast thou wrought?
The centennial edition of the book ranked number 4 on the seller’s “movers and shakers list,” as of Tuesday afternoon. Book sales increased by more than 6,000 within the last 24 hours, jumping to the 123rd spot on book sales overall, from it's spot at 7,636 the previous day.
The book, originally published in 1948, centers on a rebellious effort against totalitarianism and was meant to serve as a futuristic look into a government with overreaching powers.
Sales may have received a boost as the book has been referenced by politicians in relation to the news.
It's lawyers all the way down:
...the partisanship of the lawyers in the IRS is not unusual or even particularly extreme among federal agencies. In fact, the lawyers in every single federal government agency–from the Department of Education [100%] to the Department of Defense [68%] — contributed overwhelmingly to Obama compared to Romney. The table below shows the results for all agencies with at least 20 employees who contributed to either Obama or Romney. . . . The root of the problem is the rule by a class of career government employee lawyers who lack the diversity of opinion that is found in the non-lawyer private sector. The IRS inquiry, rather than focusing narrowly on “who knew what” within the agency, should lead to a top-to-bottom rethinking of who’s doing the administration in the modern bureaucratic administrative state.Who watches the watchmen, when they're all part of the same club?
It's out there:
Nearly a third of the world’s technically recoverable natural gas and 10 percent of its oil can be found in shale formations, according to a new report by the Energy Information Administration. Thanks to fracking and horizontal drilling, there’s a bounty of oil and gas available to countries around the world .The shale race is on...
This report, which has a much larger scope than previous reports, bumped up the estimated global amount of technically recoverable shale gas by 9.3 percent. In its regional breakdown North America looks like a big winner. Of the 41 countries surveyed, Mexico had the seventh and Canada the ninth largest reserves of shale oil, while the US was second only to Russia. Meanwhile, the US, Canada, and Mexico were in fourth, fifth and sixth place, respectively in the EIA’s ranking of the largest technically recoverable shale gas reserves.
Joe Biden joins Gore in denial:
Vice President Joe Biden praised former Vice President Al Gore, who was present during a fundraiser for Massachusetts Senate Candidate Ed Markey, asserting that Gore had actually won the the 2000 presidential election.Actually, he wasn't elected. But revisionists never let facts get in the way of sour grapes.
With characteristic hyperbole, Biden introduced the former Vice President while praising his political career.
“This man was elected president of the United States of America,” Biden said according to the pool report. “No, no, no. He was elected president of the United States of America. But for the good of the nation, when the bad decision in my view was made, he did the right thing for the nation.”