Investigators for an Arizona sheriff?s volunteer posse have declared that President Barack Obama?s birth certificate is definitely fraudulent. [...]Yes! Look at the codes! It's a cookbook! And the state of Hawaii, all the candidates he's ever run against, the Republican Party, and everyone else not certifiably in-flipping-sane is in on it!
Mike Zullo, the posse?s chief investigator, said numeric codes on certain parts of the birth certificate indicate that those parts weren?t filled out, yet those sections asking for the race of Obama?s father and his field of work or study were completed.
And only a rag-tag band of professional conspiracy theorists given a platform by an embroiled-in-controversy nutcase of a sheriff can show us the truth!
You may remember that Mike Zullo is selling a book on the subject, and so has a particular interest in milking this cow for all it's worth. You might also remember that said book was co-authored by ultraconspiracy megatheorist Jerome Corsi, who wrote a previous, more expansively dumb book on the subject that tanked when Obama released that document Corsi said he wasn't releasing. You may also remember that Sheriff Joe is, well, freaking insane. Nonetheless, they assure us they only have our best interests at heart.
Sheriff Joe is still, technically speaking, a public official, though what the hell he does during his actual day job is certainly a mystery to all. Since his constituents appear to be in no particular hurry to stop the public shaming of their county, all we can hope for is that, at some point, Arpaio retires to spend more time with his pet theories and find even crazier people to share them with. He and Donald Trump can form a road show.
For the London Summer Olympics, which start ten days from now, several corporations have been given an exemption from collecting the UK’s corporate income tax. Foreign corporations that are acting as the game’s sponsors — including BP, Coca-Cola, and Visa– will benefit from what is essentially a temporary tax haven.
But at least one eligible company says it will forego the tax break, following pressure from activists:
McDonald’s has bowed to an online campaign and declined an Olympic tax break, just days before the start of the Games. [...]
McDonald’s made clear that the cost of turning down the break would be minimal, as revenue from the Games would be less than 0.1% of its annual sales in the UK. It said in a statement: “We will not be making any corporate income tax exemption claim with respect to any activity concerning our involvement with the London Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
The organization 38 Degrees collected more than 150,000 signatures against the tax break. “It’s working! McDonald’s have said they won’t be taking the tax break ? but please sign the petition to keep pressure on the other sponsors,” the organization said in a statement.
The Tax Justice Network estimated that the tax giveaway will cost the UK “tens of millions of pounds” in lost revenue. “We?re giving money away that we need to solve our debt crisis and to preserve essential public services,? said the Tax Justice Network’s Richard Murphy.
Meanwhile, London will also be paying for 300 enforcement officers to ensure that none of the corporate sponsor’s copyrights are violated.
On the floor of the Senate Wednesday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) repudiated Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN) McCarthyesque witch-hunt to root out the alleged Muslim Brotherhood infiltration of the U.S. government. The flap started when Bachmann all but directly accused Secretary Hillary Clinton’s top aide Huma Abedin of working on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood in a letter with four colelagues to the State Department’s Inspector General demanding an investigation.
While some Democrats have taken Bachmann to task for the charges, some Republicans, like House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Rogers (MI), lauded her witch-hunt.
Enter McCain, who put his foot down today and chided his fellow Republicans for the accusations against Abedin. McCain brought up his personal relationship with Abedin, adding that she “represents what is best about America.” He noted Bachmann’s letter and its sourcing to a report from notorious Islamophobe Frank Gaffney‘s Center for Security Policy (CSP). He then said:
To say that the accusations made in both documents are not substantiated by the evidence they offer is to be overly polite and diplomatic about it. It is far better, and more accurate, to talk straight: These allegations about Huma Abedin, and the report from which they are drawn, are nothing less than an unwarranted and unfounded attack on an honorable citizen, a dedicated American, and a loyal public servant.
Watch the video:
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) lead the charge against Bachmann, demanding “credible, substantial evidence” to back up her accusations. Bachmann then penned a long letter responding to Ellison, which he rightly dismissed as “16 pages worth of repeated false allegations. Just regurgitated nonsense.”
But Bachmann’s response to Ellison did adjust her sources. While many of the 59 footnotes are still dubious — such as those linking to the Islamophobe Steve Emerson’s group, the Investigative Project — she dropped the sole source cited in her initial letter to the State Department: Gaffney‘s CSP. In his request for information, Ellison had noted that Gaffney — a sometime Bachmann adviser and booster — had been “widely discredited.” McCain, who said he had worked with CSP and considers Gaffney a “friend” nonetheless called the accusations in the report “scurrilous.”
While Mitt Romney continues to ignore calls to release his tax returns, Democrats in both the House and Senate are trying to make sure future presidential candidates cannot duck their financial past.
Senators Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) promoted their Financial Disclosure to Reduce Tax Haven Abuse Act on the floor today. The bill, introduced in March, would force candidates and their spouses to file a disclosure form listing the identity, value and location of any accounts held in tax havens.
Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) also announced today his intent to require presidential candidates to make public 10 years of tax returns and disclose overseas accounts. In a press release, Levin directly ties his proposal to Romney:
The stunning lack of transparency from someone in pursuit of the highest office in the country highlights the need to change the law to require fuller disclosure. For decades, presidential candidates have voluntarily provided a thorough accounting of their tax returns and finances, as they should. But we clearly cannot continue to rely solely on the willingness of a candidate to disclose fully what the public has a right to know about the candidate?s financial record.
Besides requiring candidates to release 10 years of tax returns, the legislation would also require the disclosure of the locations, value, and purpose of all offshore accounts, any compensatory arrangements with companies or individuals, investments or holdings, and other assets and activities of any entity in which the candidate has a controlling interest.
Along with public figures including Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) and the National Review, 61 percent of independents want Romney to release 12 years of tax returns — the number his father, George Romney, released when he ran for president.
There are well over 300,000 people who believe Jennifer Tyrrell deserves to be reinstated as a Cub Scout leader for her son’s den, but today, Boy Scouts of America officials are not among them. Tyrrell delivered petition signatures today at BSA’s headquarters and met with officials behind closed doors, where they confirmed she will not be reinstated. The BSA cited the report of an 11-member anonymous “secret committee” that was surreptitiously released yesterday (with the foreknowledge of Tyrrell’s impending visit). It found that discrimination against gay scouts and gay and lesbian scout leaders is “absolutely the best policy for the Boy Scouts,” but Tyrrell thinks otherwise:
TYRRELL: This movement doesn?t stop because 11 anonymous men behind closed doors made a decision to keep discrimination in place. This petition may have started out for me and my son, but it?s grown into something much bigger. Something much more important. Today, when you read through the comments on my petition, you can read the stories of literally thousands of scouts, scout leaders and former scouts who are hoping the Boy Scouts of America will take this moment and end this policy of discrimination against gay Americans.
Tyrrell’s efforts have been supported by Eagle Scout and son-of-two-moms Zach Wahls, who has started a new petition calling on the BSA to “stop the secrecy” and allow the board to vote to end the anti-gay policy. Wahls, founder of Scouts for Equality, has been making numerous media appearances since BSA’s announcement yesterday, calling the “secret committee” a bluff that “hasn’t changed anything“:
Indeed, questions abound about this “secret committee,” its membership, its authority, its process, and its rationale, but Boy Scout officials are mum. BSA officials refused to share the study or the names of any of the committee members with ThinkProgress. And as bloggers Bil Browning and David Badash have further pointed out, the organization has released no information to defend its decision. BSA claims that a majority of families involved in scouting support the anti-gay policy, but where is the survey that proves it? What criteria did it supposedly study in determining what would be “absolutely best” for scouts and their families? What social science research or experts, if any, did it consult? And why didn’t this two-year-old committee exist a month ago when officials agreed to reconsider the policy over the next year ? an offer no longer on the table?
It might be unfair to hypothesize which stigmatizing falsehoods the BSA “committee” utilized to legitimize ongoing anti-gay discrimination, but if they had done the least bit of research about what’s best for young people, here is what they would have learned:
The only insight that has come to light about the decision is that the BSA contacted hate group spokesman Bryan Fischer, assuming he can be taken at his word. In addition to this claim yesterday, Fischer reiterated his harmful lie that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS, and also suggested that gay people shouldn’t be allowed custody of children because they’re likely pedophiles like former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. If this is the kind of wisdom informing how the BSA makes its decisions, the organization’s conspicuous desire to hide this committee and its members makes sense. No secretive committee can undo the harm to families like Tyrrell’s that BSA is perpetuating through its ongoing anti-gay stigma.
A bipartisan group of Congress members are proposing legislation to bridge the gap between the federal prohibition against medical marijuana and state-level laws that allow it. Under HR 6134, individuals who are using marijuana for medical purposes in accordance with their state’s laws will be better able to defend themselves against federal law. The bill also makes it more difficult for the federal government to seize and destroy marijuana paraphernalia. A coalition of 16 House Democrats and 3 House Republicans — including Reps. Ron Paul (R-TX), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), and Justin Amash (R-MI) — have signed on to support the legislation.
So Mitt Romney hasn't even fully disclosed his 2010 taxes:
Mitt Romney has not released his full tax records from 2010, including key documentation connected to his Swiss bank account. [...]Well, there goes another Romney talking point. But I'm sure he'll come up with something brilliant to defend his right to a secret Swiss bank account.
Romney released his 2010 tax return in January of this year, a document that first informed voters about the existence of his Swiss bank account and financial activities in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. But people who own foreign bank accounts are required to file a separate document with the IRS that provides additional details on such overseas bank holdings, and Romney has not released that form to the public.
The Romney campaign did not respond to HuffPost's request to view the document.
Tax experts say it is almost certain that Romney did file the form, known as a Report on Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, or "FBAR" in accountant slang.
Elizabeth Warren speaking with a supporter.The first big enforcement action by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, conceived of and originally led by Elizabeth Warren, is netting $210 million from Capital One Financial Corp. for deceptive marketing of credit card ?add-on? products. The settlement will "provide between $140 million and $150 million in restitution to 2 million customers." The remaining $60 million is penalties, $25 million to the CFPB and $35 million and pay an additional $60 million in penalties?$25 million to the CFPB and $35 million to Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the primary regulator of banks.
This puts all the credit card companies on notice. Gouging customers with deceptive practices will no longer be tolerated. We've got Elizabeth Warren to thank for that. It was her doggedness that kept the idea of the CFPB alive during heated and difficult Dodd-Frank negotiations. And it was Elizabeth Warren who got the Bureau off the ground while Republicans were obstructing the appointment of a permanent director.
Warren's reaction (via email):
"I'm proud that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has stood up for middle class families by holding a major credit card company, Capitol One, accountable for deceptive practices," said Warren. "The new consumer agency is only one-year old, but it is fearless. It will hold accountable the largest financial institutions and try to make sure that even the biggest banks follow the rules."This action by the CFPB puts all the banks on notice, but it also makes Elizabeth Warren an even bigger target for defeat. Her opponent, Sen. Scott Brown, is already the darling of Wall Street. Expect every banker, his children, his employees, household help and his dog to donate the maximum to Brown to make sure Elizabeth Warren is kept out of the Senate.
"The CFPB has been pushing to reduce the fine print in credit card agreements and assisting with consumer complaints, and today's action shows how important it is that consumers have someone on their side. It's critical that we keep moving forward and protect the gains we've made, to protect people from financial tricks and traps and help create a level playing field."
In a proof of concept one year after the standing up of the agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced an enforcement action that will give consumers a full refund on illegal credit card fees extracted by Capital One.[...]
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Amidst record-high temperatures and a very anti-climactic 4th of July, power outages have left millions without air-conditioning and even water in rural areas where households rely on electric pumps. At least 52 people have died from . . . → Read More: Corruption and Mismanagement See Much of the US without Power
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