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Source: Raw Story
Whistleblowers: IRS officials behind ‘fraudulent’ multi-billion dollar corporate tax giveaways
22 Oct 2014 at 07:46 ET
A 10-year veteran Internal Revenue Service (IRS) attorney has demanded a Congressional audit of the IRS to investigate the agency’s alleged role in allowing American corporations to illegally avoid paying billions of dollars in taxes at the same time the agency is cracking down on individuals and small businesses.
In a letter to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, IRS commissioner John A. Koskinen, and IRS chief counsel William Wilkins, Jane J. Kim, an attorney in the IRS Office of the Chief Counsel in New York, accused IRS executives of “deliberately” facilitating multi-billion dollar tax giveaways. The letter, dated October 19, will add further pressure on the agency, which is under fire for allegedly targeting conservative and Tea Party groups.
Kim, who has previously blown the whistle on “gross waste of government resources” in the IRS New York field offices, wrote in her new letter that senior IRS officials have “intentionally undermined the authority of the IRS Whistleblower Office” to avoid taking action “in cases involving billions in corporate taxes due.” The IRS also refuses to enforce laws for “large corporate taxpayers,” resulting in giveaways of further billions, despite applying the same laws with “draconian strictness to small business, the self-employed, and wage-earning individuals.”
Read more: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/10/whistleblowers-irs-officials-behind-fraudulent-multi-billion-dollar-corporate-tax-giveaways/
Posted by Hissyspit | Wed Oct 22, 2014, 10:13 AM (45 replies)
@Reuters: RT @LukeReuters: #OscarPistorius sentenced to 5 years in prison for shooting dead his girlfriend - @Reuters
Pistorius sentenced to five-year jail term for killing girlfriend
Tue Oct 21, 2014 4:42am EDT
PRETORIA (Reuters) - A South African court on Tuesday sentenced Olympic track star Oscar Pistorius to five years in prison for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp last year.
(Reporting by Joe Brock; Writing by David Dolan; Editing by Pascal Fletcher)
Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSKCN0IA0L720141021
Posted by Hissyspit | Tue Oct 21, 2014, 04:37 AM (40 replies)
Posted by Hissyspit | Mon Oct 20, 2014, 09:57 AM (28 replies)
"What shocks me about neoliberalism is how utterly unapologetic it is about the misery it produces."
"What shocks me about neoliberalism in all of its forms is how utterly unapologetic it is about the misery it produces."
Henry Giroux on the Rise of Neoliberalism
Sunday, 19 October 2014 00:00
By Michael Nevradakis, Truthout | Interview
Henry Giroux discusses the increasingly negative impact of neoliberalism across the world, politically, socially, economically and in terms of education, and he offers some suggestions for what we must do now.
An interview with Henry Giroux:
Michael Nevradakis for Dialogics: Let's begin with a discussion about some topics you've spoken and written extensively about ... neoliberalism and what you have described as "casino capitalism." How have these ideas taken hold politically and intellectually across the world in recent years?
Henry Giroux: I think since the 1970s it's been the predominant ideology, certainly in Western Europe and North America. As is well known, it raised havoc in Latin America, especially in Argentina and Chile and other states. It first gained momentum in Chile as a result of the Chicago Boys. Milton Friedman and that group went down there and basically used the Pinochet regime as a type of petri dish to produce a whole series of policies. But I think if we look at this very specifically, we're talking about a lot of things.
We're talking about an ideology marked by the selling off of public goods to private interests; the attack on social provisions; the rise of the corporate state organized around privatization, free trade, and deregulation; the celebration of self interests over social needs; the celebration of profit-making as the essence of democracy coupled with the utterly reductionist notion that consumption is the only applicable form of citizenship. But even more than that, it upholds the notion that the market serves as a model for structuring all social relations: not just the economy, but the governing of all of social life.
I think that as a mode of governance, it is really quite dreadful because it tends to produce identities, subjects and ways of life driven by a kind of "survival of the fittest" ethic, grounded in the notion of the free, possessive individual and committed to the right of individual and ruling groups to accrue wealth removed from matters of ethics and social cost.
That's a key issue. I mean, this is a particular political and economic and social project that not only consolidates class power in the hands of the one percent, but operates off the assumption that economics can divorce itself from social costs, that it doesn't have to deal with matters of ethical and social responsibility, that these things get in the way. And I think the consequences of these policies across the globe have caused massive suffering, misery, and the spread of a massive inequalities in wealth, power, and income. Moreover, increasingly, we are witnessing a number of people who are committing suicide because they have lost their pensions, jobs and dignity. We see the attack on the welfare state; we see the privatization of public services, the dismantling of the connection between private issues and public problems, the selling off of state functions, deregulations, an unchecked emphasis on self-interest, the refusal to tax the rich, and really the redistribution of wealth from the middle and working classes to the ruling class, the elite class, what the Occupy movement called the one percent. It really has created a very bleak emotional and economic landscape for the 99 percent of the population throughout the world.
And having mentioned this impact on the social state and the 99%, would you go as far as to say that these ideologies have been the direct cause of the economic crisis the world is presently experiencing?
Oh, absolutely. I think when you look at the crisis in 2007, what are you looking at? You're looking at the merging of unchecked financial power and a pathological notion of greed that implemented banking policies and deregulated the financial world and allowed the financial elite, the one percent, to pursue a series of policies, particularly the selling of junk bonds and the illegality of what we call subprime mortgages to people who couldn't pay for them. This created a bubble and it exploded. This is directly related to the assumption that the market should drive all aspects of political, economic, and social life and that the ruling elite can exercise their ruthless power and financial tools in ways that defy accountability. And what we saw is that it failed, and it not only failed, but it caused an enormous amount of cruelty and hardship across the world. More importantly, it emerged from the crisis not only entirely unapologetic about what it did, but reinvented itself, particularly in the United States under the Rubin boys along with Larry Summers and others, by attempting to prevent any policies from being implemented that would have overturned this massively failed policy of deregulation.
It gets worse. In the aftermath of this sordid crisis produced by the banks and financial elite, we have also learned that the feudal politics of the rich was legitimated by the false notion that they were too big to fail, an irrational conceit that gave way to the notion that they were too big to jail, which is a more realistic measure of the criminogenic/zombie culture that nourishes casino capitalism.
- snip -
What shocks me about neoliberalism in all of its forms is how utterly unapologetic it is about the misery it produces. And it's unapologetic not just in that it says "we don't care," because we have a punishing state that will actually take care of young black kids and dissenting college students and dissenting professors who basically don't believe in this stuff. It also blames the very victims that suffer under these policies.
- snip -
How have neoliberalism and casino capitalism impacted the quality of education and also access to education?
That's a terrific question. Regarding the quality, it's dumbed-down education to the point where it literally behaves in a way that's hard to fathom or understand. Education has become a site of policies that devalue learning, collapse education into training, or they are viewed as potential sites for neoliberal modes of governance and in some cases to be privatized. The radical and critical imagination is under assault in most neoliberal societies because it poses a threat as does the idea that the mission of education should have something to do with creating critically thoughtful, engaged young people who have a sense of their own agency and integrity and possibility to really believe they can make a difference in the world. Neoliberals believe that the curriculum should be organized around testing, creating passive students, and enforcing a pedagogy of repression. Most importantly, the attack on communal relationships is also an attack on democratic values and the public spaces that nourish them. These spaces are dangerous because they harbor the possibility of speaking the unspeakable, uttering critical thoughts, producing dissent, and creating critically engaged citizens.
What is at stake here is the notion that thinking is dangerous. It's a policy that suggests that education is not about creating critically informed young people…
MORE AT LINK
Henry Giroux (born September 18, 1943), is an American scholar and cultural critic. One of the founding theorists of critical pedagogy in the United States, he is best known for his pioneering work in public pedagogy, cultural studies, youth studies, higher education, media studies, and critical theory. In 2002 Routledge named Giroux as one of the top fifty educational thinkers of the modern period.
Posted by Hissyspit | Sun Oct 19, 2014, 06:32 PM (101 replies)
Source: Associated Press
@AP: BREAKING: Police say they've found human remains that could be those of UVa. student missing since Sept.
Remains Found in Search for Missing UVA Student Hannah Graham
Human remains were found Saturday on an abandoned property during the search for University of Virginia student Hannah Graham, who has been missing for more than a month, authorities said. The remains were found around noon near Old Lynchburg Road in Albemarle County, said Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo. The area is less than 10 miles from where Graham, 18, was last seen. Longo said he “made a very difficult phone call” to Graham’s parents to share the discovery with them, but forensic tests need to be conducted to determine the identity of the remains.
Search coordinator Mark Eggeman appealed to anyone who lives near Old Lynchburg Road to report anything suspicious they might have seen the night Graham went missing. Eggeman said that investigators had canvassed the area where the remains were found for any evidence related to the case.
Read more: http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/remains-found-search-missing-uva-student-hannah-graham-n228901
Posted by Hissyspit | Sat Oct 18, 2014, 06:02 PM (40 replies)
Source: Associated Press / USA Today
@AP: BREAKING: U.S. Supreme Court allows Texas to enforce new voter ID law for November election
Supreme Court rules Texas can enforce voter ID law
Richard Wolf, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court allowed Texas on Saturday to enforce its photo identification law at the polls in the upcoming elections, reaching the opposite conclusion from a similar Wisconsin case a week earlier.
The order, coming two days before early voting is set to begin, completes a series of voting rights challenges that had come before the court on an emergency basis. The justices also upheld new restrictions on voting in North Carolina and Ohio that did not include photo ID requirements.
The order was not signed, but Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg filed a six-page dissent, joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
"The greatest threat to public confidence in elections in this case is the prospect of enforcing a purposefully discriminatory law, one that likely imposes an unconstitutional poll tax and risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters," Ginsburg said.
Read more: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/10/18/texas-voter-id-law-supreme-court/17494191/
Posted by Hissyspit | Sat Oct 18, 2014, 05:28 AM (113 replies)
Source: Associated Press
@AP: BREAKING: Alert: Federal judge orders Wyoming to allow same-sex marriage but stays until next Thursday.
Federal judge overturns Wyoming gay marriage ban
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A federal judge has ordered Wyoming to allow same-sex marriage but has stayed his decision so that the state can appeal if it wants.
U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl ruled Friday that the state must comply with a ruling by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals that permits same-sex marriage.
But he says his ruling will not take effect until next Thursday in order to allow time for the state to appeal.
The U.S. Supreme Court recently declined to review several federal court rulings that upheld gay marriage as a constitutional right. The rulings include the one from the 10th Circuit, which covers Wyoming and five other states.
This follows Arizona earlier today: http://www.democraticunderground.com/1014921331
Read more: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/2440e269c28641d8bab323f97d1ab6db/federal-judge-overturns-wyoming-gay-marriage-ban
Posted by Hissyspit | Fri Oct 17, 2014, 04:40 PM (3 replies)
WikiLeaks/Open Med: Leaked Draft Confirms TPP Will Censor Internet, Stifle Free Expression Worldwide
The last time the public got access to the TPP IP Chapter draft text was in November 2013 when WikiLeaks published the 30 August 2013 bracketed text. Since that point, some controversial and damaging areas have had little change; issues surrounding digital rights have moved little. However, there are significant industry-favouring additions within the areas of pharmaceuticals and patents. These additions are likely to affect access to important medicines such as cancer drugs and will also weaken the requirements needed to patent genes in plants, which will impact small farmers and boost the dominance of large agricultural corporations like Monsanto.
Nevertheless, some areas that were highlighted after WikiLeaks' last IP Chapter release have seen alterations that reflect the controversy; surgical method patents have been removed from the text. Doctors' groups said this was vitally important for allowing doctors to engage in medical procedures without fear of a lawsuit for providing the best care for their patients. Opposition is increasing to remove the provision proposed by the US and Japan that would require granting of patents for new drugs that are slightly altered from a previous patented one (evergreening), a technique by the pharmaceutical industry to prolong market monopoly.
Leaked draft confirms TPP will censor Internet and stifle Free Expression worldwide
October 16, 2014 – This morning Wikileaks published a second leaked draft of the Intellectual Property chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The draft confirms people’s worst fears about Internet censorship. That’s according to community-based organization OpenMedia, which is leading a large international Fair Deal Coalition aimed at securing balanced copyright rules for the 21st Century.
“It is hugely disappointing to see that, yet again, Canadians - and members of the public worldwide - have to be informed about these critical issues through leaked drafts, instead of through democratic engagement on the part of governments and elected officials,” said OpenMedia Campaigns Coordinator Meghan Sali. “When will our decision-makers recognize that negotiating serious issues - especially proposals that would censor our use of the Internet - must be considered and debated democratically instead of in secret meetings with industry lobbyists?”
Sali continued, “It is now clearer than ever that we need a positive alternative to this secretive process. It is unacceptable to design and impose new laws through closed-door processes that disenfranchise individuals around the world and shut off debate on important issues that will affect all of our futures. This is what the Our Digital Future report, released just yesterday, is all about - challenging the notion that we can’t make these laws in a more democratic manner.”
This morning, copyright and digital rights expert, Prof. Michael Geist, weighed in on his blog about the most recent leaked draft, noting that the Canadian negotiators have been opposing U.S. pressure to introduce stricter enforcement for patent and copyright law - with the strongest pushback coming in the “patents, enforcement, trademarks and copyright sections.”
Pharmaceutical Thread: http://www.democraticunderground.com/10025674991
Posted by Hissyspit | Thu Oct 16, 2014, 02:41 PM (129 replies)
Source: Associated Press
@AP: BREAKING: Arkansas' highest court tosses law that requires voters to show photo ID before casting ballot.
Arkansas high court strikes down voter ID law
BY ANDREW DEMILLO
OCT. 15, 2014 5:52 PM EDT
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas' highest court on Wednesday struck down a state law that requires voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot, ruling the requirement unconstitutional just days before early voting begins for the Nov. 4 election.
In a decision that could have major implications in the state's election, the state Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that determined the law unconstitutionally added a requirement for voting.
The high court noted that the Arkansas Constitution lists specific requirements to vote: that a person be a citizen of both the U.S. and Arkansas, be at least 18 years old, and be lawfully registered. Anything beyond that amounts to a new requirement and is therefore unconstitutional, the court ruled.
"These four qualifications set forth in our state's constitution simply do not include any proof-of-identity requirement," the ruling said.
Read more: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/491edb64efe34a77bcaef56888c78eb1/arkansas-high-court-strikes-down-voter-id-law
Posted by Hissyspit | Wed Oct 15, 2014, 05:44 PM (9 replies)
Iraq war supporters think they were just vindicated on Saddam's WMDs. They're wrong.
Updated by Max Fisher on October 15, 2014, 11:30 a.m. ET @Max_Fisher firstname.lastname@example.org
A blockbuster story in today's New York Times reports that American troops in Iraq "repeatedly encountered, and on at least six occasions were wounded by, chemical weapons remaining from years earlier in Saddam Hussein's rule." The American invasion of Iraq was premised on Saddam's alleged weapons of mass destruction, and chemical weapons are WMDs. So the story finally vindicates President George W. Bush and his decision to invade Iraq, right?
Wrong. The story, while important, is being widely misrepresented by Iraq war advocates seeking to exonerate Bush, who are also misrepresenting the Bush administration's widely-publicized rationale for invading.
Today's story comes nowhere close to backing up Bush's claims — and nothing ever has.
- snip -
Those claims have never been proven, including by today's New York Times report (the Times article is very clear about this). Rather, today's story reveals only that Iraq was sprinkled with aging, forgotten, and long-discarded warheads from Saddam's shuttered 1980s chemical weapons program — and that the Bush and Obama administrations have systematically covered up discoveries of those warheads, including the wounds they've caused American soldiers.
Posted by Hissyspit | Wed Oct 15, 2014, 02:22 PM (2 replies)