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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 28,409

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Senate to Vote Next Week to Revive Jobless Aid, Reid Says

Senate Democrats are close to gaining enough Republican votes to advance a three-month extension of emergency jobless benefits, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said today.

The Nevada Democrat told reporters that the cost of the three-month extension would be covered by budgetary reductions elsewhere, meeting a major Republican demand.

“I hope we have something on the floor next week,” Reid said. “It’s paid for for three months. The Republicans said they wanted it paid for. We’ve figured out a way to pay for it.”

The revised plan would make changes to pension rules, known as “pension smoothing,” to cover the cost of extended benefits, said a Senate Democratic aide who spoke on condition of anonymity because the proposal isn’t final.

Related: Obama’s Income-Gap Message Frames Race for Senate Control

Such a maneuver would give companies more time to make payments to their pension funds, meaning their short-term taxable income would increase because they could claim fewer deductions.



Winter Storm Slams South, Stranding Students, Snarling Traffic

Source: LA TIMES

An unusual blanket of snow across the South triggered epic traffic snarls and stranded hundreds of students at their schools Tuesday.

Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama struggled to cope with 2 to 4 inches of snow, while Atlanta’s 3 inches led to six-hour commutes -- at least for drivers who didn't abandon their cars on the slippery roads.

"I just decided to get ... out and walk home like the rest of the people. I didn't know where they were going, but now I get it. This is stupid," one driver said in a video posted to Instagram, which turned into a catalog of traffic jams and snowball fights for Georgians unused to snow.

"Georgia was not ready for this, y'all," another user posted in a video capturing a massive traffic jam in downtown Atlanta, at one point focusing on an emergency vehicle that had gotten bogged down in the lines of waiting cars. "The ambulance can't even get through."

As drivers burned through audio books and made unexpected friends in the endless traffic, Gov. Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency for the entire state of Georgia.


Read more: http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-winter-storm-hits-south-20140128,0,4157560.story#ixzz2rlYW6CEj

Watching a Roku stream out of Birmingham, AL and yeah, it is as bad as written...

No, Abe Foxman, America Is Not Out To Get The Jews

The U.S. Jewish establishment is starting to say publicly that anti-Semitism is the reason Jonathan Pollard is still in prison. This is sickening slander that reflects a deep-seated psychological problem.

By Larry Derfner |Published January 28, 2014

Abraham Foxman, long-time leader of the Anti-Defamation League, capo di tutti capi of the Israel lobby, scourge of all scourges of anti-Semitism (real or imagined), the U.S. Jewish establishment’s chief of language police, the J. Edgar Hoover of American Jewish macherdom, has flipped out completely this time. Earlier this month he said publicly that Jonathan Pollard’s continued incarceration for spying, now going on 29 years, is a “vendetta” against the entire American Jewish community. From Foxman’s statement on the ADL website:

Yes, I use that word because that’s what it seems like at this point. If it were only a vendetta against one individual it would be bad enough. But it has now become one against the American Jewish community.

In effect, the continuing imprisonment of this person long after he should have been paroled on humanitarian grounds can only be read as an effort to intimidate American Jews. And, it is an intimidation that can only be based on an anti-Semitic stereotype about the Jewish community, one that we have seen confirmed in our public opinion polls over the years, the belief that American Jews are more loyal to Israel than to their own country, the United States.

In other words, the underlying concept which fuels the ongoing Pollard incarceration is the notion that he is only the tip of the iceberg in the community. So Pollard stays in prison as a message to American Jews: don’t even think about doing what he did.

Foxman wrote the above in response to an editorial by the online Tablet magazine, the highest-quality Jewish publication in the United States and a fairly pluralistic one politically. Which is all the more weird, because Tablet’s editorial, written in response to a New York Times op-ed arguing that Pollard was getting what he deserved, was much crazier even than Foxman’s response to it. Tablet:



Frm. President Jimmy Carter Writing Book On Women's Rights

NEW YORK (AP) -- Jimmy Carter's next book will be a defense of women's rights and an attack against those who use religion to deny equality.

Simon & Shuster announced Tuesday that the former president's "A Call To Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power" will be published March 25. The publisher says Carter will draw upon personal observations from his worldwide travels as he condemns abuses of women and girls and the alleged distortions of religious texts cited as justification.

The 89-year-old has written a wide range of books since leaving office in 1981, from memoirs and poetry to a controversial work on the Middle East, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid."


Number Implicated In Air Force Nuke Missile Cheating Probe Has Doubled

Source: Associated Press

By ROBERT BURNS | ASSOCIATED PRESS | 15 minutes ago in Politics

WASHINGTON (AP) — The cheating scandal inside the Air Force's nuclear missile corps is expanding, with the number of service members implicated by investigators now roughly double the 34 reported just a week ago, officials said Tuesday.

It wasn't immediately clear whether the additional 30-plus airmen suspected of being involved in cheating on proficiency tests are alleged to have participated in the cheating directly or were involved indirectly.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose the information by name while the investigation is ongoing.

The Air Force announced on Jan. 15 that while it was investigating possible criminal drug use by some airmen, it discovered that one missile officer at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., had shared test questions with 16 other officers. It said another 17 admitted to knowing about this cheating but did not report it.

Read more: http://www.newser.com/article/4510d25bb09d4d24b77b5eb43b6e46df/apnewsbreak-number-implicated-in-air-force-nuke-missile-cheating-probe-has-doubled.html

First Female CEO Of The Largest American Automaker GM To Join First Lady At Obama Speech

WASHINGTON–Ahead of President Barack Obama‘s State of the Union speech Tuesday, the White House said the guests who will be sitting with First Lady Michelle Obama include the chief executive of General Motors Co., as well as an immigrant brought to the country illegally when he was a child and a woman who helped stop a school shooter.

The State of the Union before Congress will give Mr. Obama his largest audience all year to highlight his agenda and the choice of guests reflects some of his priorities, such as immigration reform.

Mary Barra, the chief executive of General Motors Co., is among the guests. She is the first woman to lead a large U.S. auto makers.

The White House said Cristian Avila, a 23 year old from Phoenix, will also be sitting with the first lady. He is an All-American scholar but was brought to the U.S. illegally when he was nine years old.

Mr. Obama has been pushing to revamp the immigration system for several years, though no comprehensive effort has passed Congress, where some Republican remain deeply skeptical of the president’s plans. While the president has stepped-up deportations of illegal immigrants he has granted young people brought to the country illegal as children a reprieve from the law.



Texas Rep. Gohmert (R): Raise Taxes On Poor People Because They Can Pay With Welfare

Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert (R) has proposed raising taxes on the poorest Americans even if the only money they have to pay is money that they get from government programs like welfare.

At a Tea Party Patriots event in South Carolina earlier this month, Gohmert said that he had his own plan to address income inequality.

“There’s not a blessed thing this president has proposed that will change the situation of his buddy, Warren Buffet, paying a lower percentage than his secretary,” Gohmert told the crowd. “I know that folks that are big on the fair tax, I just want a simple tax. I think it would be easier to get to a flat tax. And then, maybe a fair tax someday.”

The Texas Republican recalled that he had enlisted his friend, publisher Steve Forbes, to convince the Republican Party that “fair share” really meant “flat tax.”

“You make more, you pay more; you make less, you pay less,” he said. “And everybody needs to have skin in the game, don’t they? Everybody does. You need to own a piece of this government so you’ll do something about it. Everybody should.”



Reid Says Vulnerable Democrats Should Not Run Away From Obama

Washington (CNN) – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid embraced President Barack Obama's standing in an exclusive interview with CNN on Tuesday, stating that he encourages vulnerable Senate Democrats running for re-election in 2014 to invite the President to campaign with them even in states where he is unpopular.

Reid's exclusive comments to CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash come just hours ahead of the President's State of the Union address on Tuesday night and months ahead the 2014 midterm elections, where Democrats will fight to keep the majority in the Senate.

"Barack Obama is personally a very popular guy. And people love this man. They love his family," Reid told Bash. "Of course, with what the Republicans have been doing, trying to denigrate him with what's happened with the rollout of Obamacare, but things, even this week, his numbers are going up again."

"So you would encourage some of your most vulnerable Senate Democratic candidates to invite President Obama to appear with them," Bash asked.

"Yes, and they will," Reid said.

Reid also revealed to Bash that he will travel to the White House next week to meet with the President and Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado – the head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee – about how to best use the President in 2014.



State of the Union: No More Mr. Nice President

Obama needs to go beyond doubling down on his progressive agenda and take a stab at boldly defining the nation's political narrative.

—By David Corn

A year ago, President Barack Obama delivered two speeches that sent a clear signal: His second term would be much devoted to a progressive agenda. In his second inaugural speech, he reaffirmed the progressive tradition of the nation, celebrating the value of "collective action," defending the social safety net, and challenging the tea party's core message. (Government programs, he said, "do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.") The policy matters he raised were left-of-center priorities: protecting Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security, addressing climate change, ensuring equal pay for women, promoting marriage equality, ending the wars he inherited, securing immigration reform, opposing restrictive voter identification programs, and building infrastructure. Three weeks later, in a State of the Union address, Obama reiterated that he would pursue a distinctly progressive to-do list that included universal preschool, boosting the minimum wage, and passing gun safety legislation in the wake of the horrific massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Yet the fifth year of his presidency turned out not to be a grand time of progressive achievement, and in the State of the Union speech he will deliver Tuesday night, Obama faces a challenge: how to advance this progressive agenda in a way that it doesn't seem doomed.

The past year certainly wasn't a total bust for the president—and the lack of progress wasn't always his fault. Senate Republicans thwarted modest gun safety measures, despite high levels of approval for the legislation in opinion polls. An immigration reform bill with a path for citizenship for millions living in the shadows passed in the Senate before the House threw up a roadblock. The president forced the House GOPers to back down during the fall's government shutdown duel, once again positioning the tea partiers as disruptive extremists. Yet the Obamacare website fiasco obliterated any political gains for the White House. With the site now mostly de-glitched and millions signing up for plans, it remains possible that Obamacare will be a net positive for the president and his Democratic comrades by the time of the midterm elections—or, at least, not an albatross around their necks. Meanwhile, the NSA leaks and Syria posed knotty dilemmas for the president that no matter what he did would likely yield no clear political gains.

So after that tough year, Obama has a hard task when it comes to defining the game plan for what's ahead. As often happens prior to a State of the Union speech, White House operatives leak much of what the president will say. And the word is that he will focus on what he can do via executive action—that is, without the obstructionist Republicans on Capitol Hill—to deal with income inequality, climate change, and other matters of concern to progressives. But at this stage in his presidency—and after a year of disappointments—can he inspire citizens with this we-can't-wait-for-Congress approach, which he first introduced in 2011? Can he demonstrate that his presidency transcends the often disheartening tussles with GOP obstructionists? And can he stir the Democratic base in preparation for the coming election, in which the Rs have a better chance of going from minority to majority in the Senate than the Ds have in the House?



Court Rejects Secrecy For Food Stamp Numbers

JOSH GERSTEIN | 1/28/14 12:30 PM EST

A federal appeals court has rejected the Obama Administration's attempt to keep secret the government's data on how much individual retailers take in from the food stamp program.

In a ruling Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit turned down the U.S. Department of Agriculture's arguments that a provision in federal law protecting retailers' application information from disclosure also barred disclosure of how much the feds pay out to specific businesses.

"Because the retailer spending information is not 'submit' by 'an applicant retail food store or wholesale food concern...' the information is not exempt from disclosure. The department, not any retailer, generates the information, and the underlying data is 'obtained' from third-party payment processors, not from individual retailers," Chief Judge William Jay Riley wrote in an opinion joined by Judges Steven Colloton and Jane Kelly.

The judges acted on an appeal filed by South Dakota's Argus Leader newspaper after the USDA turned down the paper's Freedom of Information Act request for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program payments to individual retailers on an annual basis from 2005 to 2010. A district court judge agreed with the federal government's argument that part of the food stamp program statute barred such disclosure, making the data exempt from FOIA.

Riley's nine-page opinion (posted here) reads the statute differently and also makes references to the public interest in disclosure of the information given both growth and fraud in the food stamp program.


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