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OKC protestors slapped with terrorism charges

OKLAHOMA CITY —Some protestors who took on an energy giant Friday are facing terrorism charges.

Oklahoma City police said a dozen protesters walked into the front door of the Devon Tower about 9:30 a.m. Friday. Police say they were so determined to get their message across that two of them chained themselves to the front door.

“The fire department was called to unchain them they were using bicycle chains,” said Oklahoma City Police Capt. Dexter Nelson.

Police had no idea who they were and they were not willing to talk. But officers arrested several people on the spot.

“Approximately eight to 12 individuals made their way to the building, made their way to a second floor balcony and they unfurled two banners. (We) don't know what the banners said, but wrapped in the banners were some sort of a black substance,” Nelson said.

Read more: http://www.koco.com/news/oklahomanews/okc/okc-protestors-slapped-with-terrorism-charges/-/11777584/23477498/-/hsyc0r/-/index.html

The Whack ‘Em and Stack ‘Em Mentality of American Cops

Police work continues to be a relatively safe occupation. In the 1970s, an average of 220 officers died each year. In the 1980s, 185 officers were killed on average, with the average number dropping to 155 in the 1990s. The number of police deaths continues to decline, year by year. According to the publication Officer Down, there were only 95 “duty related” officer deaths in 2013. Forty-two of these fatalities were vehicle related. Another 14 deaths resulted from heart attacks while on the clock. Only 27 cops died from gunfire last year and several of those were shot by other cops.

Craig Floyd, chairman of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, contends that “law enforcement remains the most dangerous occupation in America today, and those who serve and make the ultimate sacrifice are true portraits in courage.”

This is nonsense. Compared to the daily perils of being a retail clerk in a 7-Eleven or toiling on a construction site, let alone working on a trawler in the Gulf of Alaska, logging in the Pacific Northwest or working in a deep mine, policing is a fairly invulnerable trade.

But as vividly recounted by James Bovard in a piece for CounterPunch this week, it has probably never been riskier to be pulled over by a cop on one of America’s roads. Bovard writes:

“Killings by police are not a negligible proportion of the nation’s firearms death toll. Shootings by police accounted for almost 10 percent of the homicides in Los Angeles County in 2010, according to the Los Angeles Times.



Congressional inaction turns mortgage relief into tax burden

The House of Representatives adjourned for the year without an extension on the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Relief Act (MDFRA), a 2007 law that prevents forgiven mortgage debt from being taxed as income. Starting January 1, any mortgage debt forgiven is eligible to be taxed, creating potentially burdensome liabilities for the millions of Americans in stages of mortgage delinquency as they seek relief to prevent foreclosure.

Prior to MDFRA, Americans who received either a reduction in their mortgage principal or debt forgiveness through the sale of their property were required to report those savings as income for purposes of taxes. Six years ago, Congress recognized that with the collapse of the housing bubble, this aspect of the tax code would result in many Americans owing large portions of their annual income to the IRS.

Many Americans facing foreclosure received relief from the National Mortgage Settlement, a deal between the federal government and five major banks requiring them to forgive large amounts of mortgage debt. The average principal reduction under the National Mortgage Settlement between March 2012 and July 2013 was $108,000 per borrower. Without the MDFRA, the homeowner making $50,000 per year would have to report an annual income of $158,000. Using a simple tax calculator, the homeowner would owe 34,733 to the IRS, or nearly 70 percent of the homeowner's annual income in a single tax bill.

Now that the MDFRA has expired, the only way homeowners can avoid taxation on their mortgage reduction is to prove insolvency to the IRS.



Warren Buffett appears as Walter White from “Breaking Bad” on his Christmas card

Warren Buffett apparently likes the AMC television series Breaking Bad so much, he decided to send out a Christmas card inspired by the show. The card reads “Have yourself a Meth-y Little Christmas,” a play on the main character Walter White’s illicit job as a meth cook. It features a photo of Buffett in a full Walter White outfit, as seen above in the version sent to Wall Street Journal reporter Serena Ng, who used to cover Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway for the paper.



Mary Cheney Talks About Her Family’s Personal Stake In Marriage Equality Fight

WASHINGTON — Mary Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, went to Indiana this week to make the conservative case for marriage equality as the state debates a proposed amendment to ban same-sex couples from marrying.

Many political, business and education leaders in the state oppose the proposal, HJR-6, and Cheney’s visit was a part of the effort against the measure.

“I believe that all families — regardless of how they look or how they’re made or where they live — that all families deserve to be treated with the same respect, dignity, legal rights and recognitions as every other,” she said in video from the event provided by Freedom Indiana. “I firmly believe that, and I certainly hope that our country will continue to move towards that goal.”

The Cheney family has recently been in the news for their own internal differences on the subject. Liz Cheney, the former vice president’s elder daughter, is challenging Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi in the state’s 2014 Republican primary, and in so doing has stated her opposition to marriage equality — a move that prompted Mary Cheney’s wife, Heather Poe, to criticize Liz Cheney on Facebook.



Huckabee, an Eye on 2016, Sees ‘a Real Opportunity for Me’

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas has not been among the Republicans frequently named as a potential 2016 presidential candidate, but he would like that to change.

“I’m keeping the door open,” Mr. Huckabee said in an interview here this week about the possibility of seeking his party’s nomination again. “I think right now the focus needs to be on 2014, but I’m mindful of the fact that there’s a real opportunity for me.”

Mr. Huckabee, a Christian conservative who made a splash by winning the 2008 Iowa caucuses before seeing his cash-short bid overwhelmed in subsequent states, said he would not run again unless he could finance a durable campaign.

“If I talk to people and they say, ‘If you run, we’re in and we’re in in a big way,’ that’s going be helpful,” he said. “If I don’t hear that, you know what? This will be a real easy decision for me to make because I’ve jumped in a pool without water before and it’s a hard hit at the bottom.”



Luckovich Toon- Up On The Roof

GOP demands all-nighter, but doesn’t show

Senate Republicans have refused to yield back any debate time on nomination votes out of frustration that Democrats unilaterally changed the Senate filibuster rules last month.

The rule change means only 51 votes are needed to end a filibuster on nominations below the level of the Supreme Court. Previously, 60 votes were needed.

Republicans are upset that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) triggered the “nuclear option” to make the change last month. It allows the Senate’s rules to be changed by a majority vote.

The Senate has been in session debating nominations non-stop since 2 p.m. on Wednesday and is expected to have to work through the weekend if Republicans don’t allow shorter debate times.

Republicans have used the time to criticize the rule change and ObamaCare. But early Friday morning, no one was on the floor despite the GOP’s insistence on using all the debate time.



Secretive Group (ALEC) Calls for 'Guerrilla Warfare' on EPA

Aliya Haq, a water and climate policy advocate at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), contributed this article to LiveScience's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a clandestine network of corporations and conservative state lawmakers, had its annual "policy summit" last week in Washington, D.C. The group held a special session to discuss upcoming U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) carbon-pollution standards for power plants. According to reports, ALEC members and industry lawyers encouraged state legislators to limit their states' cooperation with EPA, and even to engage in "guerrilla warfare" to weaken the agency's ability to reduce carbon pollution.

Participants in the closed-door ALEC Environment Task Force meeting at the summit also discussed two draft resolutions to obstruct EPA's carbon pollution standards. InsideEPA reported that ALEC had voted to approve the two model resolutions. These resolutions, when introduced by ALEC members in state legislatures next year, will bear no mark of the corporations that designed them in the ALEC Task Force.

While it is known that American Electric Power chairs that ALEC task force, the current list of corporate members is secret. However, thanks to leaked internal ALEC documents, environmental advocates know the 2011 corporate member participants. They include American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), American Electric Power Company, American Gas Association, American Petroleum Institute, BP, Duke Energy Corporation, Edison Electric Institute, Exxon Mobil Corporation and Peabody Energy.

ALEC claims it is increasing its transparency, but old habits die hard (if they die at all). Several reporters were refused entry into the conference, including Dana Milbank of The Washington Post and Andy Kroll of Mother Jones. A few handpicked media outlets were allowed to attend the large plenary sessions, but not the task force meetings between lawmakers and corporations.



Fast-Track Trade Bill Deal Said to Be Reached by Congress

Source: Bloomberg

A bipartisan group of lawmakers has reached agreement on legislation to help President Barack Obama win approval of trade deals, including a Pacific-region pact now in negotiation, a Senate aide said.

Leaders of the House Ways and Means Committee and Senate Finance Committee, which have jurisdiction over trade accords, agreed today on so-called fast-track legislation that would let the White House negotiate trade deals that Congress would approve through an up-or-down vote, without adding amendments, the person said.

The bill will be introduced next month when Congress returns and include a measure to address concerns about currency manipulation among U.S. trading partners, the aide said, without providing further details. The Washington-based American Automotive Policy Council, which represents Ford Motor Co. (F), General Motors Co. (GM) and Chrysler Group LLC (CGC), is among groups that have pushed for the currency measure.

Fast-track, formally known as trade-promotion authority, can help the U.S. win other nations’ support for trade accords by letting them know the negotiated deals won’t be significantly changed. The U.S. is now brokering two major accords, the Trans-Pacific Partnership with 11 regional nations, and a separate free-trade deal with the 28-nation European Union.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-12-13/fast-track-trade-bill-deal-said-to-be-reached-by-congress.html
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