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Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
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Environmental Scientist

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Wednesday Toon Roundup 2- Not in my name

Wednesday Toon Roundup 1- Evil

Brownback proposes stealing from pensions and Highway repair to cover for his insane tax cuts

With Kansas facing a projected $279 million budget shortfall after enacting aggressive tax cuts, Republican Gov. Sam Brownback proposed Tuesday to trim spending and divert funds for highway projects and public pensions to general government programs.

The plan, which applies only to the current budget year, avoids reducing aid to the state's public schools, its Medicaid health care program for the needy, prison operations or state universities. Budget Director Shawn Sullivan outlined the details in interviews and said the administration believes agencies that do face cuts can find efficiencies to avoid hurting any programs.

"These first steps are a down payment in resolving the immediate budget issue," Brownback said in a statement, adding that his administration is addressing the shortfall with "good fiscal governance" while protecting education and public safety.

The plan drew immediate, bipartisan criticism from state Senate leaders because it would divert $41 million from the pension system for teachers and government workers. Obligations to retirees over the next two decades are only 60 percent funded, and that figure was expected to climb over time thanks to a 2012 law that increased both the state's and employees' contributions to stabilize the system's long-term health.



That awful Congressional plan to allow pension cuts heads for enactment

The Congressional proposal to deal with a supposed crisis in worker pensions by allowing trustees to slash the benefits of already-retired workers to shreds is heading toward enactment.

We reported on this plan last week, observing that its details were secret. They still are. Reps. John Kline, R-Minn, and George Miller, D-Martinez--the chairman and ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, told reporters on a conference call late Tuesday that the measure is being passed over to the House Rules Committee, which will move it as an amendment to an omnibus spending bill, as early as Wednesday. Senate action will follow, presumably no later than Thursday, when Congress departs for vacation.

The proposal is aimed at multiemployer pension plans, which are generally negotiated by a union to cover employees of all companies in a given industry. About 1,400 such plans cover about 10 million workers, according to the Pension Rights Center. About 150-200 of the plans, covering 1.5 million workers are seriously underfunded and could run out of money sometime during the next 20 years.

The Congressional proposal allows trustees of those plans to slash benefits sharply for retirees to give the plans a longer lease on life. It requires a vote of approval by active workers and retirees before that could be done--but some pension advocates say that would only pit workers against retirees, with the latter coming out poorer.


People need to raise holy hell about this, NOW

Charles P Pierce Dissects the Torture Report-What it Says, What it Means and What Comes Next

The Joint Chiefs of Staff have a responsibility for the defense of the nation in the Cold War similar to that which they have in conventional hostilities. They should know the military and paramilitary forces and resources available to the Department of Defense, verify their readiness, report on their accuracy, and make appropriate recommedations for their expansion and improvement. I look to the Chiefs to contribute dynamic and imaginative leadership in contributing to the success of the military and paramilitary aspects of Cold War programs.
-- John F. Kennedy, National Security Action Memo No. 55, June 8, 1961.

He wanted, as he said, to splinter the CIA into a million pieces and scatter it to the four winds, did John F. Kennedy. Many people believe that this desire stemmed from Kennedy's having been lied to by the intelligence community regarding the Bay of Pigs invasion, which had occurred in April of 1961, and that that fantasy-turned-fiasco undoubtedly played a role in Kennedy's thinking, but that was not the first time that the CIA had lied to the new president. Right at the end of his second term, President Dwight Eisenhower had ordered the CIA to do away with Patrice Lumumba, the elected prime minister of the Congo, and a dreadful inconvenience for western interests in that benighted former Belgian colony. By the time Kennedy took office, Lumumba already had been tortured, killed, and dissolved in a vat of acid, his bones ground to dust, a result of a CIA-backed operation in conjunction with the Belgians, but Kennedy didn't know it. In fact, he was still planning on working with Lumumba. In Steven Kinzer's invaluable book about Allen and John Foster Dulles, we find that, yes, the CIA had gotten its way by giving the old okey-doke to the people who were alleged to be in charge of the American government.

"Less than two years later, Allen casually admitted that he might have exaggerated the danger Lumumba posed to the West. A television interviewer, Eric Severeid, asked him if he had come to believe that any of his covert operations were unnecessary. He named just one. 'I think that we overrated the danger in, let's say, the Congo,' Allen said. 'It looked as though they were going to make a serious attempt at takeover in the Belgian Congo. Well, it didn't work out that way at all. Now maybe they intended to do it, but they didn't find the situation ripe and they beat a pretty hasty retreat.'"

Kennedy had the right idea. Did it get him killed? I am still largely agnostic on it but, if it did, I wouldn't be at all surprised, just as I was not surprised by what Senator Dianne Feinstein read aloud on the Senate floor today, even though, behind every syllable of every word, a death knell sounded for the American idea. The concept of American exceptionalism based on anything as delicate as the rule of law -- in fact, any concept of American exceptionalism based on anything but brutish force -- has been rendered a sad and superannuated farce. Founding Fathers? Constitutional government? The bell has finally tolled for thee, motherfkers.

What was released was so breathtakingly awful, so transcendently wicked, that it's hard to keep in mind that what was read in the Senate today was merely the introduction to a heavily redacted, 528-page summary of a 6000-page congressional report into American savagery overseas. What we are being presented with is the Readers Digest Condensed Version of what was done to people in our name and on our dime. "I Am Joe's Frozen Corpse." What is in the other 5000-odd pages must be beyond belief.

part 1

part 2

part 3

Mike Luckovich Toon- America the Torturer

Abercrombie CEO abruptly retires as sales fall

Source: SF Gate/AP

Abercrombie & Fitch's longtime and controversial CEO Michael Jeffries has abruptly retired, as the once-hip teen clothing chain's sales decline.

Investors pushed Abercrombie's shares up more than 6 percent on the news.

Jeffries is also retiring from the retailer's board of directors. He has served as CEO since February 1992, according to CapitalIQ.

"I believe now is the right time for new leadership to take the company forward in the next phase of its development," Jeffries said in a statement.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/business/article/Abercrombie-Fitch-CEO-retiring-5944794.php

Good Riddance

A Ted Cruz Tantrum Could Spoil GOP Plans To Prevent A Shutdown


The House of Representatives is expected to wrap up legislation on Wednesday to fund the federal government and allow President Barack Obama to implement his sweeping executive actions on immigration.

That leaves just one day in the Senate to pass the bill in order to avoid a government shutdown on Thursday at midnight.

That's a problem, because in the Senate, nothing happens smoothly. Under Rule 22, even one senator can force two "cloture" votes and up to 30 hours of debate on any bill simply by objecting to a quick up-or-down vote.

There are two candidates for a potential filibuster that could force this scenario: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL). Both have been screaming bloody murder over the fact that the House GOP bill fails to block Obama's executive actions which would allow more than 4 million undocumented immigrants to gain three-year work permits. Both have rejected the House bill as weak and portrayed it as a tacit surrender, calling on their party to be willing to risk a government shutdown fight to block Obama's moves.



Supreme Court rules no worker pay for security screening

Source: Reuters

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that companies do not have to pay workers for the time they spend undergoing security checks at the end of their shifts in a case involving an Amazon.com Inc warehousing contractor.

On a 9-0 vote, the court said employees of Integrity Staffing Solutions facilities in Nevada, where merchandise is processed and shipped, cannot claim compensation for the up to half an hour a day they spend going through security screening aimed at protecting against theft.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote on behalf of the court that the screening process is not a "principal activity" of the workers' jobs under a law called the Fair Labor Standards Act and therefore is not subject to compensation.

For workers to be paid, the activity in question must be “an intrinsic element” of the job and “one with which the employee cannot dispense if he is to perform his principal activities,” Thomas wrote.

Read more: http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSKBN0JN1P820141209?irpc=932

Tuesday Toon Roundup 3: The Rest


The South



The Issue





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