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Member since: Fri Sep 17, 2004, 03:59 PM
Number of posts: 45,093

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Trans-Pacific Partnership Deal Isn’t Secret-Says US Official-But Access To Text Is Highly Restricted

Trans-Pacific Partnership Deal Isn’t Secret, Says US Official, But Access To Text Is Highly Restricted

The trade rules of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) between the U.S. and 11 Asian nations would cover nearly 40 percent of the world economy — but don’t ask what they are. Access to the text of the proposed deal is highly restricted. Nevertheless, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman defended the Obama administration Friday at the World Economic Forum from intensifying criticism of its refusal to release the full text of the proposed TPP. …

Yet the actual text of the agreement remains under lock and key. That represents a significant break from the Bush administration, which in 2001 published the text of a proposed multinational trade agreement with Latin American nations. …

Sen. Bernie Sander’s office confirmed to International Business Times that congressional lawmakers are permitted to view the text of the agreement only in the Trade Representative’s office, without their own staff members or experts present. They are not allowed to take copies of the agreement back to Capitol Hill for deeper, independent evaluation.


"Stay Tuned": The big fish reportedly being looked at is Gov. Cuomo.

ALBANY — U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s warning to “stay tuned” for more corruption arrests after he bagged Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has sent a big chill through the state Capitol.

“I think everyone is waiting for the next shoe to drop,” said one legislative official.

Added former Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, a Westchester Democrat: “When a prosecutor says stay tuned, I think he means it.”

The big fish reportedly being looked at is Gov. Cuomo.


Mary Cheney: 'I'm Darth Vader's daughter'

Mary Cheney, the openly-gay daughter of former Bush administration Vice President Dick Cheney, gave an interesting talk at DC’s American University the other day.

“I’m Darth Vader’s daughter,” Cheney, 45, said during a discussion at American University on Wednesday, adding that the moniker led her to decorate her son’s room with a vintage figurine of the “Star Wars” character.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/mary-cheney-darth-vader-daughter-114489.html#ixzz3PkzV5M8f

Mary talked about marriage equality (aka “gay marriage), and her belief that the Republican party might finally embrace gay marriage by the year 2020 or 2028.

Mary also seemed to signal that she’s still on the outs with her conservative sister Liz, who ran for the Senate in 2013, and came out publicly against gay marriage. Liz’s comments at the time didn’t sit well with Mary, who is married to her longtime partner, Heather Poe — the couple have two children. Mary publicly blasted Liz at the time


Cartoon: Animal Nuz - Stay Classy, Bibi Edition


Why the Toxic Myths Rich People Believe About the Poor Are So Dangerous

Why the Toxic Myths Rich People Believe About the Poor Are So Dangerous
Inequality and regressive tax policies hurt everyone, even rich people.
By David Sirota / AlterNet January 23, 2015

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

American politics are dominated by those with money. As such, America's tax debate is dominated by voices that insist the rich are unduly persecuted by high taxes and that low-income folks are living the high life. Indeed, a new survey by the Pew Research Center recently found that the most financially secure Americans believe "poor people today have it easy." The rich are certainly entitled to their own opinions -- but, as the old saying goes, nobody is entitled to their own facts. With that in mind, here's a set of tax facts that's worth considering:

Middle- and low-income Americans are facing far higher state and local tax rates than the wealthy. In all, a comprehensive analysis by the nonpartisan Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy finds that the poorest 20 percent of households pay on average more than twice the effective state and local tax rate (10.9 percent) as the richest 1 percent of taxpayers (5.4 percent). ITEP researchers say the incongruity derives from state and local governments' reliance on sales, excise and property taxes rather than on more progressively structured income taxes that increase rates on higher earnings. They argue that the tax disconnect is helping create the largest wealth gap between the rich and middle class in American history. "In recent years, multiple studies have revealed the growing chasm between the wealthy and everyone else," Matt Gardner, executive director of ITEP, said. "Upside-down state tax systems didn't cause the growing income divide, but they certainly exacerbate the problem. State policymakers shouldn't wring their hands or ignore the problem. They should thoroughly explore and enact tax reform policies that will make their tax systems fairer." The 10 states with the largest gap between tax rates on the rich and poor are a politically and geographically diverse group -- from traditional Republican bastions such as Texas and Arizona to Democratic strongholds such as Illinois and Washington. The latter state, reports ITEP, is the most regressive of all. Four years after billionaire moguls such as Amazon's Jeff Bezos and Microsoft's Steve Ballmer funded a campaign to defeat an income tax ballot measure, Washington now makes low-income families pay seven times the effective tax rate that the rich pay. That's right, those in the poorest 20 percent of Washington households pay on average 16.8 percent of their income in state and local taxes, while Washington's 1-percenters pay just 2.4 percent of their income. Like many of the other regressive tax states, Washington imposes no personal income tax all. "The problem with our state tax systems is that we are asking far more of those who can afford the least," concludes ITEM's state director Wiehe. By contrast, the states identified as having the smallest gap in effective tax rates are California, Delaware, Minnesota, Oregon and Vermont -- all Democratic strongholds and all relying more heavily on progressively structured income taxes. Montana is the only Republican-leaning state ITEP researchers identify among the states with the least regressive tax rates. Of course, if you aren't poor, you may be reading this and thinking that these trends have no real-world impact on your life. But think again: In September, Standard & Poor's released a study showing that increasing economic inequality hurts economic growth and subsequently reduces public revenue. As important, the report found that the correlation between high inequality and low economic growth was highest in states that relied most heavily on regressive levies such as sales taxes. In other words, regressive state and local tax policies don't just harm the poor -- they end up harming entire economies. So if altruism doesn't prompt you to care about unfair tax rates and economic inequality, then it seems self-interest should.


Low, low, low, low - Huckabee

After a week of public flogging for his attacks on Beyoncé, whose music he called "toxic mental poison," former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's (R) next stop was "The View," where the pop-star's former group mate called him out on his remarks.

Referencing one of music's best-known couples Beyoncé and Jay-Z by their last name, former Destiny's Child member Michelle Williams told the Republican, "I’m not the Carter spokesperson, but to hear some of those comments that you said I thought were very, very, very low.”

Huckabee stressed that he thought Beyoncé had a "great set of pipes" but should not produce songs he felt were too sexual for a mass audience. He directed the "View" hosts to read his book, "Guns, God, Grits and Gravy."

“I’ve said to people, read it and if you’re still offended, so be it,” the former governor said.


ADC Sends Letter To Bradley Cooper & Clint Eastwood Asking Them To Reduce Hateful Rhetoric



Sen. Warren Gets More Influence On Economic Policy---Named Ranking Member Of Banking SubCommittee

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has been named as the ranking member on a Senate Banking subcommittee overseeing employment, price stability, and economic growth.

The new position as the ranking member on the Banking committee's subcommittee on Economic Policy will further cement Warren's role as one of the more powerful Democrats on economic policy. Warren has made Wall Street's influence in the halls of Congress her signature issue.

One of her more notable moments in the Senate was her grilling financial regulators and banking chiefs. More recently she has fought tooth and nail to prevent measures rolling back parts of Dodd-Frank from becoming law. Warren already has a role at the Democratic leadership table that was custom made for her by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).

Warren's appointment to the subcommittee was announced by Sen. Sherrod
Brown (OH), the ranking Democrat on the Banking Committee, on Friday. The subcommittee was actually the first subcommittee Brown chaired when he joined the Banking Committee.


Senate Republicans Remove 'Civil Rights And Human Rights' From Subcommittee Name

Senate Republicans Remove 'Civil Rights And Human Rights' From Subcommittee Name

WASHINGTON -- Senate Republicans revealed this week that they have eliminated the phrase “civil rights and human rights” from the title of a Senate Judiciary subcommittee charged with overseeing those issues.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) became chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee this month and announced the members of the six subcommittees this week. With Grassley’s announcement, the subcommittee formerly known as the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights suddenly became the Subcommittee on the Constitution.

“We changed the name because the Constitution covers our most basic rights, including civil and human rights,” said Cornyn spokeswoman Megan Mitchell. “We will focus on these rights, along with other issues that fall under the broader umbrella of the Constitution.”

In his press release, Cornyn never used the phrase “civil rights” or “human rights.” Instead, the release said he would be a "watchdog against unconstitutional overreach and will hold the Obama Administration accountable for its actions." Cornyn is an opponent of legislation that would restore federal oversight over some local and state election changes that were eliminated when the Supreme Court gutted a key provision of the Voting Rights Act in 2013.


Flashback: King Abdullah suggested implanting electronic chips in Gitmo detainees

In an unusual concession, made at the conclusion of their conversation, the
King said, "be assured I am fully briefed on the work you are
doing with Prince Mohammed bin Nayef."

¶7. (S) HOW TO TRACK DETAINEES: "I've just thought of
something," the King added, and proposed implanting
detainees with an electronic chip containing information
about them and allowing their movements to be tracked with
Bluetooth. This was done with horses and falcons, the King
said. Brennan replied, "horses don,t have good lawyers,"
and that such a proposal would face legal hurdles in the
U.S., but agreed that keeping track of detainees was an
extremely important issue that he would review with
appropriate officials when he returned
to the United States.

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