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post from jobsanger
on 22 December 2011 01:06:00 AM. © jobsanger
The people of the United States is getting a wonderful, though long overdue, holiday present from the Obama administration and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). They are finally issuing rules which will force the coal-fired energy plants to either clean up their act (install devices to prevent pollution) or shut down. Add to del.icio.us Digg this Post to Furl Add to reddit Add to myYahoo!
And we're not just talking about preventing carbon dioxide emissions here. The new rules will "slash mercury pollution from burning coal by 90 percent, lung-damaging acid gases by 88 percent and soot-producing sulfur dioxide by 41 percent", along with a whole host of other poisons and cancer-causing chemicals. It will save American lives by cleaning the air, along with streams, rivers, and lakes.
EPA administrator Lisa Jackson called the new rules "the biggest clean air action yet", even bigger than the rule limiting cross-state line pollution and the agreement to double vehicle fuel economy standards. She said, "Before this rule, there were no national standards limiting the amount of mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel and acid gases that power plants across the country could release into the air that we breathe.
This should have been done long ago. Congress gave the EPA the authority to control power plant emissions back in 1990. By 2000, it became obvious that the plants would not comply with being forced to. But when the EPA tried to do that, the Bush administration stepped in a issued an executive order exempting the power plants from having to abide by toxic emissions rules from the EPA. It took a court order and a new president to overturn that.
Under the new rules, coal-fired power plants will have until 2016 to stop polluting or close down. The Obama administration is allowing the states to extend that time limit by one year on a case-by-case basis for special circumstances -- an extension that is approved of by environmental groups. Finally, the government is putting the health and safety of American citizens above the profits of the giant energy companies.
The power plants and their Republican lackeys are still trying to fight the new rules. The power plants have whined that the new rules will force blackouts and bring on higher electric prices. The blackout part is more of a threat to get the public behind them than a reality. There shouldn't be any blackouts due to these new rules. There could be some higher prices though. The pollution-control devices will have to be paid for. Hopefully, the states will oversee this and make sure the electric companies don't raise prices any more than is absolutely necessary. In any event, the health of our citizens and the environment is worth it.
Republicans are still trying to stop the new rules. House Republicans tacked an amendment to their version of the payroll tax cut bill, which would delay instituting the rules for at least another five years. That effort failed, but they will undoubtably keep trying to take this amendment on to other necessary bills. They need to pay back the power companies for the many millions of dollars they have donated to Republican campaign chests.
These rules have been needed for many years. The coal-fired power companies have been doing serious damage to the environment and seriously affecting the health of many thousands of Americans for too long now. President Obama needs to stand firm on this issue -- even if he has to veto some good bills to prevent more delay.
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post from jobsanger
on 22 December 2011 01:04:00 AM. © jobsanger
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The two charts above, from Think Progress, show the rise in income and drop in tax liability for the 400 richest Americans. In just the years from 1995 to 2007, their income has risen from $6 billion a year to around $22.9 billion a year (that a jump of more than 281% in just that 12 year period). And when you consider their income jump for the last 30 years or so (since 1980), it is much higher. These people have more money and a higher income than they have ever had.
But while their income and wealth is greater than ever, their tax liability is not. Back in 1995, these people paid an average tax rate of 29.93% (which seems fair since those who make the most should pay the most in a fair and progressive tax system). But in 2007, the average tax rate paid by those richest American had dropped to only 16.62% (which is over 55% less than they were paying in 1995). So while they have a greater income than ever, they have a much lower tax liability than ever also.
These are the very people the Republicans think need an even more massive tax cut. They call them (and the corporations) the "job creators" -- and they tell us that all we have to do is give these people much more money and they will create jobs. The idea is ludicrous. These people already have more money than they have ever had (and the corporations have record-breaking profits and are sitting on trillions of unspent dollars), so why aren't they creating any jobs? Why would giving them more money create more jobs? The answer, of course, is that it wouldn't -- because giving money to the already rich does not create jobs.
There is only one thing that creates jobs, and that is demand -- the demand for more goods and services by the society at large. Giving rich people more money will not create that demand, since they already have enough money to buy anything they want. Giving them more would not increase demand, but only fatten their already large bank accounts.
If we want to create demand (which will create jobs), we must put more money in the hands of millions of people who will spend that money. The payroll tax cut extension proposed by President Obama will do that. But the Republicans don't like that idea, because they don't represent the vast majority of the American people. They represent the rich, and the payroll tax cut won't immediately put more money in the pockets of the rich (although when it increases demand, it will be the rich who will profit from the new demand). But the Republicans are too short-sighted to see that.
While many Americans seem to have trouble seeing it, the Republicans only represent the rich while the Democrats, as spineless as they sometimes are, represent the rest of us. That is just a fact.
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post from They gave us a republic... - Front Page
on 22 December 2011 01:00:00 AM. © They gave us a republic... - Front Page
- The #EmoProgs will
still **always** find something to whine about, but we'll take this and do our butt-shakin' Happy Dance, too. "Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed speculation Wednesday that President Barack Obama would issue a signing statement when he makes the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and its controversial detention provisions law. ... "We made really substantial progress in moving from something that was really unacceptable to the administration to something with which we still have problems," Holder said in response to a question from the Wall Street Journal's Evan Perez. "But I think through these procedures, with these regulations we will be crafting, we can minimize the problems that will actually affect us in an operational way." ... Holder said the language of the NDAA had been moved in a "substantial way" from some of the original language which led the president to issue a veto threat. ..."So we are in a better place, I think the regulations, procedures that will help, and we'll also have a signing statement from the president" which will help clarify how they view the law, Holder said."
- We're about to learn that first-person shooter games are only okay when they are thinly-veiled military recruiting tools, but when there's a social-justice component it's a terrorist training tool. "An upcoming game in the Tom Clancy franchise is ruffling some feathers for depicting a domestic terrorist attack staged by individuals who sound sympathetic to the 99 Percent movement. ... "Tom Clancy's Rainbow 6: Patriots," due out in 2013 for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC, was teased in a recent trailer released by French publisher Ubisoft, which produced a clip wherein a collection of American mercenaries raid a corporate boardroom and murder the CEO. ... "This all started when you became bigger than the governments," a narrator's voice explains. "And governments became bigger than the people. That's how the land of the free became the kingdom of the few -- a few like you, Mr. Walsh. It's time for a new balance of power. You may not answer to the government, but you will answer to us." ... And like a scene from a Wall Street CEO's worst nightmare, the captive is strapped with explosives and hurled from the skyscraper office down to the street below, where the bombs detonate seconds before he hits the pavement."
- Of course there's an app for that..."The medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) teamed up with the developers iWeed to launch a free iPhone app on Wednesday that allows users to sign up for raid alerts and activist phone trees, among other things. ... By releasing the ASA Advocate App, the group is hoping to coordinate and recruit grassroots activists. The app provides updates on rapidly changing local, state, and federal issues related to medical marijuana. It also allows users to quickly connect to a legal hotline and lists local businesses that support the work of ASA. ... "The ASA Advocate App is another way to empower grassroots action that is bringing change on medical marijuana policies to every corner of the country," said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. "We have to be innovative if we want the widespread public support that exists for medical marijuana to translate into concrete results. The ASA Advocate App will help put greater pressure on all levels of government to adopt sensible medical marijuana policies.""
- Viajes seguros, Amigos. "Hundreds of thousands of Mexicans and Central Americans have been clogging crossings at the US-Mexico border, braving bandits and corrupt authorities in a perilous migration south to be home for Christmas. ... This year, travelers are taking greater precautions to avoid being robbed or kidnapped as they head through areas where violent drug gangs have been active, and migrants have been massacred. ... "The truth is, I'm scared, even though we expect to reach (central Mexico) with no problems," said Erasmo Gonzalez, a 29 year-old farm worker returning for the first time in a year from his home in the US state of Ohio. ... A caravan of 74 vehicles with some 300 migrants aboard made it through the busy border crossing at Nuevo Laredo on Monday, heading to central Mexico. ... Alonso Laverde, a Mexican heading to the state of Queretaro with his wife and two children for the holidays, decided to join the caravan for protection. ... "We've worked hard and saved up, always with hopes that we can spend these days with the family," Laverde told AFP."
- Ron Paul can manage the storm-out like a pro whose done it before. "Texas congressman and Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul ended an interview with CNN after he was questioned about a hate-filled newsletter that was published under his name. ... The newsletters were published about 20 years ago and contained a number of incendiary comments about African-Americans, such as referring to Martin Luther King Jr. Day as "Hate Whitey Day." All of the newsletters featured his name, but Paul has said he did not write the racist language. ... "So you read them, but you didn't do anything about it at the time?" CNN reporter Gloria Borger asked him on Wednesday. ... "I never read that stuff," Paul responded. "I became aware of it probably ten years after it was written, and it has been going on for twenty years that people have been pestering me about this, and CNN does it every single time. So when are you going to wear yourself out?" ... "I didn't write them, I didn't read them at the time, and I disavow them," he added, when pressed about the issue. ... After Borger continued to question Paul about the newsletters, he started taking off his microphone and ended the interview."
- Weird...Mittens last week assailed the President for ending the war in Iraq, but this week he's certain Bush wouldn't have invaded if he had known there were no WMDs -- you know, the ones he used to believe Saddam smuggled out to Syria. "Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney insisted on Wednesday that President George W. Bush would never have invaded Iraq if he had known that were no weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the country. ... "If we knew at the time of our entry into Iraq that there were no weapons of mass destruction, if somehow we had been given that information, why, obviously we would not have gone in," the candidate told MSNBC's Chuck Todd. ... "You don't think we would have gone in at all?" Todd asked. ... "Well, of course not," Romney declared. "The president went in based upon intelligence they had weapons of mass destruction. Had he known that was not the case, the U.N. would not have put forward resolutions authorizing this type of action. The president would not have been pursuing that course, but we did not know that. Based upon what we knew at the time, we were very much under the impression as a nation -- as our president was under the impression -- that they had weapons of mass destruction, that Saddam Hussein was intent on potentially using those weapons. And so, he took action based upon what he knew." ... "But to go back and say, 'Knowing what we know now, would we have gone in?' Well, knowing what we know now, they did not have weapons of mass destruction. There would have been no effort on the part of our president or others to take military action," the former Massachusetts governor added."
- Karl Rove blasts the teabagger House for "blowing it" on the payroll tax cut. "Even George W. Bush's top strategist Karl Rove thinks House Republicans overreached in reneging on the payroll tax cut deal. His advice: having lost the politics, Republicans should wait until (or to see if?) President Obama flies off to Hawaii on vacation, bash him and congressional Democrats for abdicating their duties, and then ... pass the same Senate payroll tax cut compromise they could have passed on Tuesday. ... "I think the Wall Street journal editorial today hit it on the nail," Rove said Wednesday on Fox News."
- This is another reason why we use the unionized labor of UPS or the USPS, and not scabs who work for FedEx when we need to ship something. "It was the monitor toss seen 'round the world. FedEx has responded to a viral video that showed one of the company's drivers throwing a (now broken) computer monitor over a fence. ... The statement reads: The situation has now been resolved to the customer's satisfaction, and we are handling the employee according to our disciplinary policies...While we continue to be surprised about the behavior shown, we know this is an aberration and is not reflective of the outstanding FedEx customer service that makes us proud around the world. ... "I want you to know that I was upset, embarrassed, and very sorry for our customer's poor experience," said Matthew Thornton, a FedEx senior vice president. "We have met with the customer face to face and they already have a replacement monitor at no cost to them. They have accepted our apology and say they are fully satisfied with what we've done in response to this unacceptable delivery." ... The clip has racked up more than 2 million views. In the video's description, the poster writes, "The sad part is that I was home at the time with the front door wide open. All he would have had to do was ring the bell on the gate. Now I have to return my monitor since it is broken." The footage appears to come from a surveillance camera. ... There is no word on what sort of disciplinary action will be taken against the employee. However, a spokeswoman for the company told the U.K.'s Daily Mail, this won't be his best day."
- His blood is on Sheriff Joe's hands, and it won't come off. "After being kept alive for days following a fight with officers in one of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's jails, a Latino military veteran died late Tuesday when he was taken off life support by doctors at a Phoenix hospital, his family's attorney tells TPM. ... Ernest "Marty" Atencio was 44. He was injured early Friday morning, just hours after the Justice Department accused the Arizona sheriff of running an agency that regularly violates the rights of Latinos. ... "His entire family was by his bedside when he passed," the family's attorney, Mike Manning, said. His parents, two brothers and three sons were there to make the decision. ... Atencio had been taken to St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in critical condition with injuries from the fight. Doctors later determined he had been shocked at least four times with a Taser, according to Manning."
- Libertarian, schmibertarian...BG is still going to cross over and vote for him in the Missouri primary because he is on the ballot. "Next week former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson will leave the Republican presidential primary and mount a bid for the Libertarian Party nomination. ... This could be good news for Libertarians. Johnson is a two-term governor and has been able to build a buzzy if not incredibly successful campaign so far. ... It's likely great news for President Obama, since polling indicates he will benefit greatly from a serious third party candidate entering the race. ... In its last national poll, PPP tested Johnson in a three-way contest with Obama and Mitt Romney. Romney led Obama in the two-man race. But with Johnson added, Obama was ahead. ... "Johnson's supporters go for Romney 36-23 in a head to head with Obama, so Johnson candidacy has potential to help the President," PPP's Tom Jensen tweeted. ... This keeps with the general PPP polling trend that any third party candidate would help Obama. "
- No, Rep. Buchanan, when the FEC finds your story "not credible, that is NOT the same thing as "exoherating" you. In fact, it's exactly the opposite. "The Federal Election Commission thinks Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) either lied to them or has a terrible memory problem. ... An FEC report obtained by TPM about allegations that Buchanan had his former car company reimburse employees for donations to his political campaign finds that there wasn't enough evidence to show that Buchanan broke the law. Buchanan's team had previously claimed that he was "completely exonerated" by the commission, citing letters from the FEC. ... Not quite. The FEC's general counsel report finds that Buchanan's "lack of recall" about an affidavit his lawyers asked his former business partner to sign "does not seem credible." ... "It is improbable that Buchanan's attorneys drafted the affidavit and presented it to [Sam] Kazran without Buchanan's involvement considering that (1) the affidavit did not concern the subject of the commercial negotiations, but rather Buchanan's knowledge of reimbursed contributions to [Vern Buchanan Federal Campaign], and (2) it was presented to a former Buchanan partner who, according to respondents, was threatening to go to Buchanan's political opponent or the Commission before the 2008 election with his allegation that Buchanan ordered him to reimburse contributions," the report states."
- Yeah, whatever. When will Angelo Mozilo get sentenced in federal court? **Then** we'll pay attention. "In the largest residential fair lending settlement reached in the Justice Department's history, Bank of America has agreed to provide a $335 million fund to compensate victims of what one top DOJ official called "discrimination with a smile." DOJ alleged that Countrywide, before it was owned by Bank of America, engaged in a "widespread pattern or practice of discrimination against qualified African-American and Hispanic borrowers" in their mortgage lending practices from 2004 through 2008. ... The complaint, filed in the Central District of California on Wednesday, alleges that African-American and Hispanic borrowers "were more than twice as likely to be placed in subprime loans than non-Hispanic White wholesale borrowers who had similar credit qualifications." Subprime loans carry higher interest rates. ... Attorney General Eric Holder stressed at a press conference that the over 200,000 African-American and Hispanic borrowers named in the suit were qualified for the loans. ... "Countrywide's actions contributed to the housing crisis, hurt entire communities, and denied families access to the American dream," Thomas E. Perez, who heads DOJ's Civil Rights Division, said in a press release. "We are using every tool in our law enforcement arsenal, including some that were dormant for years, to go after institutions of all sizes that discriminated against families solely because of their race or national origin." ... Perez said that two-thirds of the victims were Hispanic and that Countrywide targeted those communities in particular."
- We don't know how to break it to Faux Noise, but heavy metals and fetal teratogens don't have a political agenda, they just cause birth defects and break hearts and lives, and don't ask about politics. "As U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administration Lisa Jackson announces the first-ever Clean Air Act rules to limit mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants, Republicans are already attacking this historic advance for public health. The health risks of this potent neurotoxin are enormously well-documented. Methylmercury from coal pollution accumulates in fish, poisoning pregnant women and small children. Mercury can harm children's developing brains, including effects on memory, attention, language, and fine motor and visual spatial skills. But Republicans are willing to argue that the profits of the coal industry outweigh the well-being of America's children. ... "There are already strict regulations relating to mercury emissions," Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), the chair of the House energy and power subcommittee, falsely claimed in an interview today with Fox News. "Obviously whatever controls the EPA has in place are not working if our fish are tainted," Fox's Alisyn Camerota shot back. Whitfield then made the false claim that "there is not going to be any benefit from this new regulation in reducing mercury levels.""
- Try not to be overwhelmed by the shock of this tidbit, but Ed Whitfield doesn't know what the hell he's talking about. "Anyone who pays attention to green news will have spent the last two years hearing a torrent of stories about EPA rules and the political fights over them. It can get tedious. After a certain point even my eyes glaze over, and I'm paid to follow this stuff. ... But this one is a Big Deal. It's worth lifting our heads out of the news cycle and taking a moment to appreciate that history is being made. Finally controlling mercury and toxics will be an advance on par with getting lead out of gasoline. It will save save tens of thousands of lives every year and prevent birth defects, learning disabilities, and respiratory diseases. It will make America a more decent, just, and humane place to live."
- Go, Navy! "A Navy tradition caught up with the repeal of the U.S. military's "don't ask, don't tell" rule on Wednesday when two women sailors became the first to share the coveted "first kiss" on the dock after one of them returned from 80 days at sea. ... Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta of Placerville, Calif., descended from the USS Oak Hill amphibious landing ship and shared a quick kiss with her partner, Petty Officer 3rd Class Citlalic Snell of Los Angeles. The crowd screamed and waved flags around them. ... Both women, ages 22 and 23 respectively, are fire controlmen in the Navy. They met at training school and have been dating for two years. ... Navy officials said it was the first time on record that a same-sex couple was chosen to kiss first upon a ship's return. Sailors and their loved ones bought $1 raffle tickets for the opportunity. Gaeta said she bought $50 of tickets. The Navy said the money would be used to host a Christmas party for the children of sailors."
- Now we find out just how full of shit the Arab League really is. "Syrian security forces are maintaining a heavy presence in the northwestern Idlib province after an offensive on army defectors killed about 250 people, including a large number of civilians, activists say. The Syrian National Council, an umbrella group representing opponents of President Bashar al-Assad's government, on Wednesday called for "immediate action" by the Arab League and the UN Security Council to condemn and halt what it called "horrific massacres" conducted by Syrian forces in Idlib and other areas. The United States said it was "deeply disturbed" by the ongoing violence, which it said was a violation of Syria's implementation of the league's pleace plan. Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr, reporting from the Turkish city of Antakya, along the border with Syria, said the Syrian military's operations had been focused on Idlib because it was attempting to regain control over what had become a stronghold for army defectors."
- Why does this remind us of Stalin vs. Trotsky? "Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq's prime minister, has called on authorities in the autonomous Kurdish region to hand over Tariq al-Hashimi, the country's vice president who is wanted on allegations of running a death squad. "We call for the government of the Kurdistan region to take its responsibility and hand over Hashimi to the justice system," Maliki told a news conference in Baghdad on Wednesday. "We do not accept any interference in Iraqi justice." Maliki also rejected Hashimi's calls for Arab League representatives to monitor the investigation and any questioning, telling reporters, "This is a criminal case, and there is no need for the Arab League and the world to have a role in this". Officials issued the warrant for Hashimi's arrest on Monday, after earlier banning him from leaving the country. The accusations date back to the height of the war in 2006 and 2007, when neighbours turned on neighbours and whole sections of Baghdad were divided along sectarian lines."
- Yet another supposedly less-developed country with the balls to legally prosecute former officials who committed war crimes. "The United Nations war crimes tribunal for Rwanda has found two former ruling party officials guilty of genocide for their leading role in the 1994 massacre of 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus, and sentenced them to life in prison. Mathieu Ngirumpatse and Edouard Karemera, who were president and vice-president of the ruling MRND party at the time of the genocide, had pleaded not guilty to the charges. "The chamber unanimously condemns Ngirumpatse to life in jail," said presiding Judge Dennis Byron, before pronouncing the same sentence for Karemera. Last week the tribunal reduced sentences for two former Rwandan military officials who were convicted of genocide."
- This hell-hole is 2,000 years away from self-government. Time to bug the fuck out. "Five Polish soldiers were killed in Afghanistan in what was the single biggest attack on Polish forces since their deployment in the country, Polish media reported. A spokesman for the governor of Ghazni province said the soldiers were killed by a mine. Ghazni province lies southwest of the Afghan capital. It was one of "the most tragic events" in the country's mission so far, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the Ghazni attack in a text message sent to journalists. Poland has about 2,500 soldiers in Afghanistan as part of the US-led mission, which it joined in 2002. The latest attack raised Poland's overall death toll in Afghanistan to 36."
- Sounds good, but we don't trust our computerized toasters as it is. "Self-repairing electronic chips are one step closer, according to a team of US researchers. The group has created a circuit that heals itself when cracked thanks to the release of liquid metal which restores conductivity. The process takes less than an eye blink to bring the circuit back to use. The researchers said that their work could eventually lead to longer-lasting gadgets as well as solving one of the big problems of interplanetary travel. The work was carried out by a team of scientists and engineers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is published in the journal Advanced Materials. The process works by exploiting the stress that causes the initial damage in the chips to break open tiny reservoirs of a healing material that fills in the resulting gaps, restoring electrical flow."
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