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Purveyor

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(Republican) Tax Increases Affecting More Michigan Residents

LANSING, Mich. — In the height of tax season, don't be surprised if you owe more to the taxman in Lansing.
Some major income tax changes approved 21 months ago by Gov. Rick Snyder and lawmakers are just now starting to hit Michigan taxpayers filing their state tax returns.

One of the most significant adjustments: Homeowners and renters used to qualify for a credit if their household income was no more than $82,650 a year. Now they don't get it unless their total household resources are $50,000 or less and their home's taxable value (roughly half the market value) is no more than $135,000.

That will affect about 400,000 returns.

The child deduction is gone. So are special exemptions for seniors and those getting at least half their income from unemployment checks.

MORE...

http://www.mlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2013/02/tax_increases_affecting_more_m.html#incart_river

This gives hope that perhaps we can take back at least the House in 2014. Synder will have some serious problems also...[/b}

Why The GOP Can No Longer Be Trusted On National Defense

By FRED KAPLAN

WASHINGTON — It’s been clear, at least since the 2012 election, that the Republican Party has abrogated its role — really, abandoned any interest — in shaping or seriously discussing American foreign policy. But only recently has this indifference shifted into toxic territory, and on Tuesday the fumes formed a poisonous cloud, the likes of which hadn’t been witnessed in decades.

The occasion was the Senate Armed Services Committee’s vote on Chuck Hagel’s nomination as secretary of defense — a nomination now being held up by an unprecedented Republican filibuster.

--CLIP
A TASTE FOR THE TRIVAL

They asked almost nothing about the issues that will face the next defense secretary: the budget, the roles and missions of the Army, the balance of drones vs. manned aircraft, the size of the Navy, the future of Afghanistan, or the “pivot” from Europe to Asia.

Instead, they hectored the nominee about the adequacy of his fealty toward Israel, his animosity toward Iran, and whether he was right or wrong about the 2007 troop-surge in Iraq.

There was all that in the follow-up session on Tuesday, plus a whiff of paranoia and sedition that’s rarely been cracked open since the days of Joseph McCarthy.

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http://www.silive.com/opinion/columns/index.ssf/2013/02/why_the_gop_can_no_longer_be_t.html

Anonymous Activists Hack Into 600,000 Israeli Email Accounts

Activists associated with the group "Anonymous" claimed on Friday to have hacked some 600,000 email accounts from the Israeli server Walla!, stealing user details and information.

A report in Australia's SC Magazine says hackers published email addresses and passwords in 93 different posts on Pastebin.com, a website used by hackers to communicate.

Walla! confirmed that the list was posted online, but downplayed the incident. "The information published is useless, since the allegedly exposed passwords are encrypted and therefore cannot be used. However, we are working on 'hermetically' sealing off user details in Walla! accounts," they said.

Alan Puzic, chief technology officer at PwnedList, which allows consumers to check if their online account had been compromised, told SC Magazine that the attack appears to be a part of the Anonymous #OpIsrael campaign that targets Israeli websites.

MORE...

http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/anonymous-activists-hack-into-600-000-israeli-email-accounts.premium-1.504093

Pretending Away The Nakba Only Perpetuates The Conflict

When the Czechs prefer to keep silent and repress their history, it’s a problem, but it is not an imminent danger to the country. When Israelis prefer to pretend there was no ethnic cleaning here, it’s a wholly different question: the conflict won’t end unless Israel admits to the injustice it caused.

By Yossi Gurvitz

A few weeks back I watched The Gatekeepers, a movie which interviews six of the chiefs of Shin Bet, from Avraham Shalom to Yuval Diskin. The movie is shocking and well worth your time. The most surprising character was Diskin, who obviously underwent a great change upon leaving the service: at the end of the movie he adamantly agrees with Yishayahu Leibowitch’s famous dictum that the occupation will turn Israel into a ”Shin Bet state.” And over the weekend we learned Diskin went through another metamorphosis: he recommended to the Turkel Committee that the Shin Bet start video-taping its interrogations, which the service has long resisted.

Diskin is merely the latest in a series of senior security officials who, as soon as they leave office, see the light and understand just how ruinous the office they headed was, and how they represented positions that were damaging to the country. The last great show in this genre was the bunch of senior commanders of the IDF’s Northern Command, who upon retirement were astonished to find out that the Security Zone in Lebanon was a huge mistake – often, after defending it in uniform as vital to security just a few weeks prior.

In that regard, the most interesting speaker is certainly Avraham Shalom, the oldest interviewee. Shalom thinks strategic errors were made, particularly by the politicians, but he himself regrets nothing. When asked about moral problems, he laughs. “Morality?” He asks, “Morality? Look for it first among the terrorists.” One assumes former chiefs, assuming they would even bother to be interviewed, would supply similar remarks. It’s very hard to see Issar Har’el, for instance, the closest thing we’ve got to J. Edgar Hoover, providing the camera with anything aside from a mocking, world-weary grin, saying in effect “you’ll never understand, so don’t even try.”

MORE...

http://972mag.com/suppressing-injustices-hold-onto-that/65949/

Why Democrats Think They Can Retake the House in 2014

In a memo sent to House Democrats on Friday, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel said the caucus is in a stronger political position to start the 2014 campaign than in either of the last two cycles -- an argument aimed at rebutting the hardening belief in Washington that House Republicans have a near-lock on their majority.

Israel's memo, sent to National Journal by a Democratic aide, boiled down to one theme: Republicans and their tea party allies are deeply unpopular with the public, which means that Democrats -- with President Obama's help -- should be able to overcome a congressional map that leans red. Democrats, who won a net of eight seats last year, need to win another 17 more to retake the majority.

"Redistricting has empowered the worst elements of the Republican Party, amplifying the extremist echo chamber and making the tea party Republican congress toxic to voters," Israel wrote. "Republicans redrew already-safe members into even more Republican districts, driving control of their party more to their base, forcing more primaries, and making it less likely that they can put forward a party agenda that appeals to Independents."

Democrats have emphasized the dysfunction of the GOP-controlled House, highlighting parliamentary blow-ups like the failed "Plan B" vote and stumbling attempt to approve the Superstorm Sandy relief bill. And polls show most voters blame the GOP for Congress’s dysfunction.

More...

http://www.nationaljournal.com/blogs/hotlineoncall/2013/02/why-democrats-think-they-can-retake-the-house-in-2014-15

Jewish Leader Raps US For Taking Aircraft Carrier Out Of Gulf

A top American Jewish leader on Sunday criticized the Obama administration for cutting its aircraft carrier presence in the Persian Gulf region from two carriers to one. He said the move sent entirely the wrong message to Iran about America’s commitment to keep all options, including the military option, on the table in the struggle to thwart Tehran’s nuclear drive.

“I’m personally very disturbed by the withdrawal from the Persian Gulf, the Arab Gulf, because of the message it sends to the Iranians,” said Malcolm Hoenlein, the long-time executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organization, in unusually critical comments. “We have to think about how the Iranians perceive it.”

Hoenlein said he well understood that budgetary pressures may have necessitated the move, but feared that it would be “interpreted by the Iranians as a diminution of our commitment that all options are on the table, which is the only thing that will bring them — if anything will — to a reasonable stance” as regards their nuclear program.

The Pentagon announced 10 days ago that it was cutting its aircraft carrier presence in the Persian Gulf region from two carriers to one, with a saving of hundreds of millions of dollars. The decision came as Washington struggles to find a way to avoid sharp automatic spending cuts set to strike the Pentagon and domestic programs next month. The US has maintained two aircraft carrier groups in the Gulf for most of the last two years, amid escalating tensions with Iran, as part of a US show of force in the region.

More...

http://www.timesofisrael.com/jewish-leader-slams-us-for-taking-aircraft-carrier-out-of-gulf/

'Force To Be Reckoned With': Israel's Settlers Dig In Ahead Of Obama Visit

By John Ray, Correspondent, NBC News

TEL AVIV -- To the outsider, it looks like a poor piece of land to fight over: A sand and scrub hillside where, on a winter’s day, a chill wind whips over the boulders and blows through to the bone.

On one side stand the minarets of Arab East Jerusalem, hemmed in by Israel’s security wall. Ahead, across a valley, lies the Jewish settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim, a sprawling suburb of neat streets and anonymous housing blocks.

--CLIP
“We are a force to be reckoned with,” said Yigal Dilmony, deputy general manager of the Yesha Council which represents 360,000 Jews who have settled in East Jerusalem and the West Bank (what they call Judea and Samaria). “The reality on this territory is that we can’t be ignored.”

Late last year, the Israeli government announced it would speed up the start of construction of around 3,500 homes for settlers, connecting Ma’aleh Adumim to Jerusalem in an area known as E1 on the planners’ maps.

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http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/02/16/16975361-force-to-be-reckoned-with-israels-settlers-dig-in-ahead-of-obama-visit

There is no doubt in my mind that some 'stunt' is being planned to embarrass the President during his stop-over to the Middle-east.

Racism and the hypocrisy of Israel's advocates

The vital fight against anti-Semitism is "cynically abused to defend Israel's institutionalised racism".

Last Modified: 16 Feb 2013 15:18

Two recent episodes serve as useful illustrations of the hypocrisy of Israel's apologists in the West and their approach to racism.

Firstly, there was the outrage that greeted Gerald Scarfe's cartoon in The Sunday Times and which forced an eventual climb down by the newspaper. Some did not hesitate to call the cartoon anti-Semitic - others were more ambiguous but explained why others could think it was anti-Semitic.

Of course, not everyone agreed with that analysis, seeing the cartoon as "an image critical of Binyamin Netanyahu's policies in the West Bank" and the chorus of condemnation as "an exploitation of Jewish historical trauma". But the dissenting voices were drowned out.

Yet the same people who wrote blog posts, opinion columns, and appeared on TV and radio to denounce a cartoon were silent about the Israeli army murdering Sameer Awad by the Apartheid Wall in Budrus just two weeks before Scarfe's cartoon was published (and the Wall is bloody indeed).

MORE...

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/02/201321362522670451.html

Marco Rubio Is Taking a Spring Trip to Israel (Sound Familiar?)

Marco Rubio has to shadow everything the President does these days. The potential Republican 2016 hopeful was the official State of the Union rebutter earlier this week. On Saturday morning, Rubio announced he is embarking on week long trip to Israel, just like the President.

Rubio (and his wife) will travel to Israel and Jordan over the next six days on official business of the Senate Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committee. (Don't worry, she's paying out of pocket.) Rubio plans to meet with King Abdullah in Jordan, and President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to talk about "various areas of mutual interest, including the Israeli-Palestinian peace process," in Israel.

It's been a little more than a week since the President announced his own spring trip to Israel. It will be the first time he visits the country since becoming President. For Rubio, this previously unannounced trip will be his second time visiting the country.

MORE...

http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2013/02/marco-rubio-taking-spring-trip-israel-sound-familiar/62217/

Hopkins' Dr. Benjamin Carson Anointed New Fox Darling Of The Right On Hannity

By David Zurawik
The Baltimore Sun
1:48 p.m. EST, February 16, 2013

Much of Friday's political-media online chatter was focused on Fox news hiring failed presidential candidate and pizza executive Herman Cain as a political analyst.

But the big story that seemed to mostly sail under the radar was the embattled channel's hour-long, full-right-wing, all-out, let's-give-a-big-big-hug coronation later in the evening of Dr. Benjamin Carson, the famous neurosurgeon at Baltimore's Johns Hospital, who made headlines for what he had to say Feb. 7 at the National Prayer Breakfast.

I cannot remember seeing anything quite like it even on Fox.
What happened for 60 minutes on Hannity Friday night went beyond even the nights when the portly show host would genuflect before vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin nodding so wildly in agreement with her crackpot pronunciations that you feared he would need neck surgery by the next commercial break. (May she rest in peace, amen.)

Now I know Fox appears to be losing it's mind as its ratings dip for the first time in years just as Jeff Zucker has the troops at CNN feeling like they could actually throw off the chains of ratings bondage and stand tall again. But even given all of that, you have to check out these videos.

MORE...

http://www.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/tv/z-on-tv-blog/bal-dr-benjamin-carson-hannity-johns-hopkins-20130216,0,7305771.story
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