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Hissyspit

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Member since: Fri Nov 12, 2004, 08:39 AM
Number of posts: 45,504

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Court: Michigan's Ban on Affirmative Action is Unconstitutional

Source: Detroit Free Press

Court: Michigan's ban on affirmative action is unconstitutional

2:40 PM, November 15, 2012
By Paul Egan
Detroit Free Press Lansing Bureau

LANSING — The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has declared unconstitutional Michigan’s ban on affirmative action, which was approved by voters in a 2006 ballot initiative, Proposal 2.

The majority opinion in a divided court said the state ban on affirmative action violated the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution by making it more difficult for a minority student to get a university to adopt a race-conscious admissions policy than it is for a white student to get a university to adopt an admissions policy that considers family alumni connections.

“This is a tremendous victory for students,” said Detroit attorney George Washington, who represented the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action in the case.

“It means that thousands of black students and Latino students will have the chance to go to college they never would have had.”

Read more: http://www.freep.com/article/20121115/NEWS06/121115041/The-U-S-6th-Circuit-Court-of-Appeals

Occupy Debt-Relief Campaign Buys $100,000 Worth of Medical Debt

Source: Raw Story

Occupy debt-relief campaign buys $100,000 worth of debt

By Arturo Garcia
Thursday, November 15, 2012 11:58 EST

Members of a debt relief project borne from the Occupy Wall Street campaign said Wednesday they have purchased more than $100,000 worth of medical debt in a second trial run for their efforts.

Thomas Gokey, a spokesperson for the Rolling Jubilee campaign, said the debt was purchased for $5,000. Earlier this year, the group bought $14,000 worth of debt for $500.

- snip -

A fundraising concert is scheduled to be held Thursday in New York City, with the group seeking to raise $50,000 in order to buy — and wipe out — $1 million worth of medical debt.

Gokey said the group behind the project, Strike Debt, had bought its own 501 c(4) to manage the funds it manages to raise, and that his group was working with unspecified “business insiders,” lawyers and accountants. While the campaign is not targeting individual debtors in its purchases, people who are part of the buys will be notified soon that their obligations have been discharged.

Read more: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/11/15/occupy-debt-relief-campaign-buys-100000-worth-of-debt

Chrysler to Spend $238 Million, Add 1,250 Jobs in Michigan

Source: Reuters

Chrysler to spend $238 million, add 1,250 jobs in Michigan

Thu Nov 15, 2012 12:00pm EST

(Reuters) - Chrysler Group LLC, the U.S. automaker majority owned by Fiat SpA, said on Thursday it will invest $238 million to boost engine and truck production in Michigan and add up to 1,250 jobs to meet new demand.

The company is spending $198 million to make its Pentastar V6 engine at the Mack I Engine Plant, which currently builds a larger engine for the Ram 1500 truck. Production will begin in early 2014 and Chrysler may add up to 250 jobs there, subject to market conditions.

The automaker is spending $40 million to install a flexible production line at its Trenton North plant, which can build both the V-6 engine and the Tigershark four-cylinder engine.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSBRE8AE1CC20121115

Secretary of State Clinton to Testify Before Congress on Benghazi Attack, Congresswoman Says

Source: Reuters

Clinton to testify on Benghazi before US House committee -chairwoman

Thu Nov 15, 2012 10:51am EST

WASHINGTON, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will testify before a congressional committee next month on the handling of the deadly Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, a senior lawmaker said on Thursday.

"The secretary has committed to testifying before our committee ... on the Accountability Review Board's report, which is expected to be concluded by early to mid-December," said Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairwoman of the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs.

The State Department launched an independent Accountability Review Board to review the circumstances surrounding the Benghazi attack, which killed four Americans including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens.


Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSL1E8MF5WE20121115

Breaking - Source: BP Expected to Admit Criminal Conduct in 2010 Spill

Source: Reuters

By Chris Baltimore

HOUSTON (Reuters) - BP Plc is expected to plead guilty to criminal misconduct in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster through a plea agreement it has reached with the U.S. Department of Justice that may be announced as soon as Thursday, according to two sources familiar with discussions.

The sources, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said that BP will plead guilty in exchange for a waiver of future prosecution on the charges.

- snip -

It is unclear what form of criminal misconduct BP will plead guilty to. In an August filing, the Department of Justice said "reckless management" of the Macondo well "constituted gross negligence and willful misconduct," which it intended to prove at a pending civil trial set to begin in New Orleans in February 2013.

It is also unclear whether the deal will resolve any civil charges brought by the Justice Department, and how large a financial penalty BP might pay to resolve them.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSBRE8AE08F20121115



@Reuters: NEWSFLASH: BP agreement with Justice Department will include largest criminal penalty in U.S. history - source

Cybersecurity Bill Dead After Second U.S. Senate Rebuff

Source: Reuters

Cybersecurity bill dead after second U.S. Senate rebuff

Wed Nov 14, 2012 8:12pm EST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared a U.S. cybersecurity bill, opposed by business and privacy groups, dead on Wednesday after it failed a test vote for the second time.

The bill would have increased information-sharing between intelligence agencies and private companies. It also would have set voluntary standards for businesses that control electric grids or water treatment plants.

Business groups opposed the bill as overregulation and privacy groups worried it might open the door to Internet eavesdropping.

"Everyone should understand cybersecurity is dead for this Congress," said Reid, a Democrat, adding, "Whatever we do on this bill, it's not enough for the Chamber of Commerce."

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSBRE8AE04720121115

Relaxed Yet Feisty, Obama Lays Out Second-Term Agenda

Source: Reuters

Relaxed yet feisty, Obama lays out second-term agenda

WASHINGTON | Wed Nov 14, 2012 7:45pm EST

By Jeff Mason and Mark Felsenthal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama laid out his second-term agenda on Wednesday, expressing a willingness to work with Republicans in Congress and a resolve to defy them if necessary.

In his first full-scale news conference since March, Obama said he was willing to compromise with Republicans to forge a deal on the nation's debt and taxes to avoid the "fiscal cliff," a combination of budget cuts and tax increases that will kick in next year if such an agreement is not reached.

But he said he would not abandon his campaign pledge to allow Bush-era tax cuts on the top 2 percent of U.S. earners to expire.

He also launched a feisty defense of his United Nations ambassador, Susan Rice, pushing back against two Republican senators who said they would not support her nomination for a Cabinet post because she made misleading statements about the September attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSBRE8AE02X20121115

Veteran F.B.I. Agent Helped Start Petraeus E-Mail Inquiry (Identified as Frederick W. Humphries II)

Source: New York Times

Veteran F.B.I. Agent Helped Start Petraeus E-Mail Inquiry

By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT, SCOTT SHANE and ALAIN DELAQUÉRIÈRE
Published: November 14, 2012

DOVER, Fla. — The F.B.I. agent who helped start the investigation that led to the resignation of David H. Petraeus as C.I.A. director is a “hard-charging” veteran counterterrorism investigator who used his command of French in investigating the foiled “millennium” terrorist plot in 1999, colleagues said on Wednesday.

The agent, Frederick W. Humphries II, 47, took the initial complaint from Jill Kelley, the Tampa, Fla., hostess who was socially active in military circles there, about e-mails she found disturbing that accused her of inappropriately flirtatious behavior toward Mr. Petraeus. The subsequent cyberstalking investigation uncovered an extramarital affair between Mr. Petraeus and Paula Broadwell, his biographer, who agents determined had sent the anonymous e-mails. It also ensnared Gen. John R. Allen, who now commands troops in Afghanistan, after the investigation discovered that he had sent “inappropriate communication” to Ms. Kelley.

Colleagues and news reports described the role of Mr. Humphries, in just his third year at the F.B.I., in building the case against Ahmed Ressam, who was detained as he tried to enter the United States from Canada in 1999 with a plan to set off a bomb at Los Angeles International Airport.

In May 2010, after he had moved to the Tampa field office, Mr. Humphries was attacked outside the gate of MacDill Air Force Base by a disturbed knife-wielding man. He fatally shot the man, and the shooting was later ruled to be an appropriate use of force, according to bureau records and colleagues.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/15/us/frederick-humphries-fbi-agent-in-petraeus-case.html

Survivors File U.N. Complaint Against Canada for Failing to Prosecute George W. Bush for Torture

Source: Center for Constitutional Rights

Survivors File U.N. Complaint Against Canada for Failing to Prosecute George W. Bush for Torture

press@ccrjustice.org

November 14, 2012, Vancouver and New York— Today, four torture survivors filed a complaint against Canada with the United Nations Committee against Torture for the country’s failure to investigate and prosecute former President George W. Bush during his visit to British Columbia last year. As a signatory to the Convention against Torture, Canada has an obligation to investigate and prosecute a torture suspect on its soil. This is the first time a complaint concerning torture allegations against a high-level U.S. official has been filed with the U.N. Committee. The Canadian Centre for International Justice (CCIJ) and the U.S.-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed the complaint on the men’s behalf.

- snip -

The four men – Hassan bin Attash, Sami el-Hajj, Muhammed Khan Tumani and Murat Kurnaz – found their long quest for justice stymied in October 2011. Canada’s Attorney General refused to conduct a criminal investigation against Mr. Bush, and the Attorney General of British Columbia swiftly intervened to shut down a private criminal prosecution submitted to a provincial court in her jurisdiction during Mr. Bush’s visit. This occurred despite the groups’ submission of a 69-page draft indictment and approximately 4000 pages of evidence against Bush consisting of extensive reports and investigations conducted by multiple U.S. agencies and the United Nations.

The Committee against Torture can require Canada to explain the actions that led to the case being closed without any investigation and can then issue a decision on whether Canada has breached its obligations under the convention. If the committee finds Canada in violation, it can specify appropriate remedial measures.

“Through this process, the world can learn whether Canada’s actions were grounded in law or in politics. Canada’s refusal to investigate and prosecute George W. Bush marked a low-point in the ongoing struggle to end impunity for torturers and denied these men the opportunity to achieve some measure of justice,” said Katherine Gallagher, Senior Staff Attorney at CCR and legal representative for the men.“They now call upon the Committee to send a clear message that states must uphold their obligations under the Convention against Torture and cannot allow other factors – including political considerations – to interfere with the commitment to end impunity for torturers.”

Read more: http://ccrjustice.org/newsroom/press-releases/survivors-file-u.n.-complaint-against-canada-failing-prosecute-george-w.-bush-torture

Help Me Compose Response to My Sister-In-Law Regarding Right-Wing Propaganda on Obama Tax Rates She

sent out.

Here's the graphic she emailed under the title "Heres how much your taxes are going up under Obamas new tax code. No one is spared!"



Here's what I've composed so far. Please offer suggestions and fact-check it. Others might want to cut-and-paste what we come up with for their own use:


This is extremely misleading. The graphic identifies "average increases." Average increases in what? I ASSUME they are referring to income taxes after going off the "fiscal cliff," but I don't really know since it doesn't say. Total tax burden? The payroll tax holiday was always meant to be temporary and almost assuredly will not be extended - this is mainly because of Republican opposition. This tax holiday was going to expire no matter who became President.

We simply don't know what Congress and the President are going to do about the fiscal cliff, so, in a sense, there really is no "Obama's new tax code." We can assume that they WILL do SOMETHING. The Jan. 2013 triggers were agreed upon by BOTH parties, as a way to strategize with each other and to push off dealing with it into the future. They will almost assuredly end up pushing some more stuff off into the future again. Obama already allowed the Bush-era tax breaks for the extremely wealthy to be extended before, promised not to do, and is under TWO election mandates to end them.

From ABC News, scenario for the pre-election Obama tax intentions and the worst-case scenario for the "fiscal cliff," (for which BOTH parties are responsible):

Scenario: Obama Wins

In an Obama tax world, 95 percent of families will pay the same amount of income tax as they do now. Their tax rates will stay the same and their deductions will be largely unchanged.

But for the 5 percent of American families who earn more than $241,900 per year, Obama's tax plan means a fairly substantial tax hike.

Individuals earning between $200,000 and $500,000 will pay about $3,300 more in federal income taxes in 2013 than they did this year. Millionaires will pay an additional $184,600 per year, on average, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

The Details:

Obama's tax plan extends the Bush Tax Cuts for all families earning less than $241,900, but lets the cuts expire for families earning more than that. The tax rate on income between $241,900 and $390,050 will be 36 percent, or 3 percentage points higher in 2013 than it was in 2012. Couples who earn more than $390,050 will pay a 39.6 percent rate on income over that amount. That is 4.6 percentage points higher than their 2012 rate.

The tax on investment income like capital gains and dividends will increase for individuals earning more than $200,000 and families who earn more than $250,000. Instead of a 15 percent tax rate, dividends will be taxed like regular income subject to the 36 percent rate above $241,900 and 39.6 percent rate above $390,050, and the rate on capital gains will increase to 20 percent. The rates will stay at 15 percent on incomes less than $200,000.

Two-thirds of Obama's tax hikes fall solely on millionaires, who will pay higher rates on their income, capital gains and dividends. The president also plans to increase the estate and gift taxes from 35 percent to 45 percent on estates worth more than $3.5 million. Currently, these taxes only apply to estates worth more than $5 million.

Obama would extend tax credits for the working poor, child care, and having children.

On the corporate side, Obama proposes lowering the corporate tax rate from its current 35 percent to 28 percent and eliminate credits and exemptions, such as those for oil and gas companies.

Scenario: U.S. Falls Off the Fiscal Cliff

If Congress fails to act, American taxpayers will be hit with $536 billion in tax increases and automatic spending cuts will strip $1.2 trillion largely from the Defense Department and Medicare.

In this fiscal cliff scenario, the average tax hike would be $3,446. Nearly 90 percent of families would see their taxes go up, with middle class taxes rising roughly $2,000 on average.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, if Congress does not prevent these provisions from expiring -- that is, if America falls off the fiscal cliff -- the country will plunge back into recession, with GDP growth slowing to a mere 0.5 percent.

Details:

On Dec. 31, the Bush Tax cuts are set to expire, raising taxes by between 4 percent and 6 percent on nearly every taxpayer. The lowest tax rate, which applies to families earning less than $17,800, will jump from 10 percent to 15 percent and the highest tax bracket, for households earning more than $397,000, will rise from 35 percent to 39.6 percent.

Tax credits that largely benefit low and middle income workers, such as the child tax credit and deductions for the working poor, will also expire.

Coupled with the tax hikes are steep and sudden spending cuts to the tune of $1.2 trillion next year. The Defense Department would bear the brunt of those cuts, losing $55 billion in funding for 2013.

Medicare would also take a big hit with the federal government cutting payments to Medicare providers by 2 percent in order to save $11 billion.


Those, of course, are just the PLANS, not what is actually going to happen.

Here's some other information:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/11/08/cbo-letting-upper-income-tax-cuts-expire-would-barely-hurt-economy/

CBO: Letting upper-income tax cuts expire would barely hurt economy
Posted by Dylan Matthews on November 8, 2012 at 4:44 pm

The Congressional Budget Office warned again in a report released Thursday that the U.S. economy could get slammed back into recession, with unemployment hitting 9.1 percent by the end of next year, if President Obama and Congress don’t act to avert the fiscal cliff.
But there were other interesting nuggets in the report, as well. In particular, the CBO gave its most detailed look at how the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts would affect the economy. Apparently, it would do little harm, the numbers show. Here’s the key graph:

The above shows how big each policy is as a share of the total impact of the cliff. Some policies are more important on the budget side than the GDP side. Letting the high-income Bush tax cuts lapse, for example, generates $42 billion in 2013 but hardly hurts GDP at all. By contrast, the defense cuts amount to $24 billion but hurts growth by 0.4 percent — quadruple the high-income cuts’ impact.


Again, from the CBO:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/in-2009-americans-paid-lowest-tax-rates-in-30-years-to-federal-government/2012/07/10/gJQAWc5bbW_story.html

In 2009, Americans paid lowest tax rates in 30 years to federal government
By Lori Montgomery, Published: July 10

Americans paid the lowest tax rates in 30 years to the federal government in 2009, in part because of tax cuts President Obama sought to combat the Great Recession, congressional budget analysts said Tuesday.

A sharp decline in income — especially among the wealthiest Americans, who pay the highest tax rates — also played a role, according to the report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Household income fell 12 percent on average from 2007 to 2009, with income among the top 1 percent of earners decreasing by more than a third.

Still, at the very moment anti-tax protesters were emerging as the most powerful force in American politics, handing Republicans landslide control of the U.S. House, the data show that people were sending the smallest portion of their income to the federal government since 1979.

The tax burden — which includes all forms of federal levies, including income, payroll and corporate taxes — lightened for households across the board, thanks in part to Obama’s signature “Making Work Pay” tax credit and other tax cuts passed as part of the 2009 economic stimulus package, the CBO said.
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