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Boehner, House GOP leaders: Raise Medicare eligibility age, cut Social Security, slash taxes on wealthy

December 3, 2012 by legitgov

Boehner, House GOP leaders: Raise Medicare eligibility age, cut Social Security, slash taxes on wealthy [And, the Pentapost, ever the faithful servant of the GOP, Wall Street, and the Drone -- buried these salient points in paragraphs *eight and nine* of their 'article.'] 03 Dec 2012 The [GOP] proposal... would push the top rate below the current level of 35 percent and raise cash by wiping out loopholes and deductions. The plan also seeks $600 billion in health savings. One option, GOP aides said, would be raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67. And it would save $200 billion by applying a(n) less generous austerity measure of inflation government wide, including to Social Security benefits, which would rise more slowly as a result. The GOP plan also seeks another $300 billion in cuts to agency budgets on top of the $1 trillion in cuts already enacted. [Oh, but there's a spare $100 million to build an Air Force facility in Tel Aviv, though, right? Start reading.]

After UN vote, Israel to suspend PA funds

December 3, 2012 by legitgov

After UN vote, Israel to suspend PA funds --PM Netanyahu: We'll continue building in Jerusalem 02 Dec 2012 Israeli government continues to punish Palestinians over UN bid: Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz stated Sunday morning that he would not transfer the tax payments collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority this month. The move followed the approval of 3,000 new housing units beyond the Green Line and the furthering of planning procedures in the area connecting Jerusalem and the town of Ma'aleh Adumim that could prevent the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state.

43 students taken to hospital in carbon monoxide scare

December 3, 2012 by legitgov

43 students taken to hospital in carbon monoxide scare 03 Dec 2012 Police and rescue crews rushed to Finch Elementary School in southwest Atlanta on Monday morning, where at least 49 people were overcome by carbon monoxide fumes. The reports came in to 911 at about 8:35 a.m. Fire crews said when they arrived at the school in the Oakland City area, at least six people had been overcome by the fumes.

Corporate profits hit record as wages get squeezed

December 3, 2012 by legitgov

Corporate profits hit record as wages get squeezed 03 Dec 2012 Just four years after the worst shock to the economy since the Great Depression, U.S. corporate profits are stronger than ever. In the third quarter, corporate earnings were $1.75 trillion, up 18.6% from a year ago, according to last week's gross domestic product report. That took after-tax profits to their greatest percentage of GDP in history. But the record profits come at the same time that workers' wages have fallen to their lowest-ever share of GDP.

Global Powers Work to Break Environmental Solidarity, and to Exploit 'Opportunities' of Climate Change

December 3, 2012 by legitgov

Global Powers Work to Break Environmental Solidarity, and to Exploit 'Opportunities' of Climate Change by Julian Assange 29 Nov 2012 On environmental issues, cables show that the U.S. routinely makes symbolic gestures rather than initiating substantial practices to combat climate change [global warming], and works aggressively to tailor international agreements to its own commercial interests... In a visit to Canada in 2009 David Goldwyn, the State Department's Coordinator for International Energy Affairs discussed public relations assistance to be offered to the oil sands industry. Goldwyn proposed consulting experts, scholars and think tanks to "increase visibility and accessibility of more positive news stories." The cable was later used by environmentalists in their battle against the Keystone XL pipeline, which ships crude oil across the U.S.-Canada border. In early 2012, President Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline proposal, but recently publicly announced support for another proposal. It also turns out that Goldwyn eventually went on to work for Sutherland, a lobbying group in favor of Keystone XL.The cables also reveal that the U.S. is carefully positioning itself to take advantage of new opportunities for harvesting hydrocarbons and minerals from the Arctic as climate change melts polar ice.

Two Years of Cablegate as Bradley Manning Testifies for the First Time

December 3, 2012 by legitgov

Two Years of Cablegate as Bradley Manning Testifies for the First Time by Julian Assange 29 Nov 2012 For years, WikiLeaks faced a chorus of accusations by U.S. officials and right-wing pundits of making the world a less-safe place, and of having potentially caused harm through publication of embarrassing secrets. In reality, the cables show that torture and killing are not isolated events, but the violent manifestations of an aggressive policy of coercion used by the United States in the pursuit of its strategic commercial and political goals around the world. While U.S. law bans the training of military units with a history of human rights violations, in practice the law is easily and often circumvented... A diplomatic cable from November 2009 mentions as a side note that right-wing paramilitaries in Colombia were responsible for the death of 257,089 victims, a figure well above the estimations of local human rights activists. The U.S. has nonetheless offered generous support to the Colombian military; Amnesty International, which has called for a complete cut-off of U.S. military aid to Colombia, has estimated that total U.S. aid in 2006 amounted to $728 million, of which 80 percent was given to military and police assistance. As of 2012, U.S. military support to Colombia is ongoing.

Sen. Lindsey Graham calls Guantanamo Bay detainees 'crazy bastards'

December 3, 2012 by legitgov

Sen. Lindsey Graham calls Guantanamo Bay detainees 'crazy bastards' [Hello, Pot? This is Kettle.] 30 Nov 2012 Sen. Lindsey Graham charged Thursday that Guantanamo Bay is full of "crazy bastards" who should not be brought to the United States. "Simply stated, the American people don't want to close Guantanamo Bay, which is an isolated, military-controlled facility, to bring these crazy bastards that want to kill us all to the United States," the Republican senator [sociopath] from South Carolina said in a floor speech. His comments came during a Senate debate concerning the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Revealed: Pentagon gets $110 million for secret 'Plan X' cyberwar plans

December 3, 2012 by legitgov

Revealed: Pentagon gets $110 million for secret 'Plan X' cyberwar plans --Experts say 'Plan X' could range from taking out power grids to disabling a pacemaker in an enemy combatant. [Hopefully, Anonymous will develop a 'Plan X' of its own.] 01 Dec 2012 The Pentagon is hoping that new efforts to reach out to the private sector will help upgrade its military force to be better prepared to fight in the digital age. The new program, dubbed Plan X, hopes to facilitate the development of new technologies that will allow the military to 'dominate the cyber battlespace,' while simultaneously implementing a clearer strategy for using cyberattacks. Plan X has already received $110 million in funding for the next five years, which it hopes to dole out in military contracts to researchers around the country.

Police Can Access Your Email Without a Warrant If It's 180 Days Old

December 3, 2012 by legitgov

Police Can Access Your Email Without a Warrant If It's 180 Days Old 30 Nov 2012 When retired four-star general and former CIA Director David Petraeus resigned from his post this month after admitting to an extramarital affair, one of the more startling revelations was that the dalliance was discovered when the FBI sifted through his private Gmail account. The spy chief had been out-spied. More alarming is that the average American could easily be subjected to the same snooping that Petraeus endured. According to current law, police can access email through a provider, like Yahoo or Gmail, without a warrant if the message is more than 180 days old.

Greenland and Antarctica 'have lost four trillion tonnes of ice' in 20 years

December 2, 2012 by legitgov

Greenland and Antarctica 'have lost four trillion tonnes of ice' in 20 years --Landmark study finds melting polar ice has led to 11mm rise in sea level --Greenland losing ice five times faster than early 1990s 29 Nov 2012 More than 4 trillion tonnes of ice from Greenland and Antarctica has melted in the past 20 years and flowed into the oceans, pushing up sea levels, according to a study that provides the best measure to date of the effect climate change global warming is having on the earth's biggest ice sheets. The research involved dozens of scientists and 10 satellite missions and presents a disturbing picture of the impact of recent warming at the poles. The scientists claim the study, published in the journal Science, ends a long-running debate over whether the vast ice sheet covering the Antarctic continent is losing or gaining mass.

US military base attacked in eastern Afghanistan

December 2, 2012 by legitgov

US military base attacked in eastern Afghanistan 02 Dec 2012 The blasts were followed by gunfire in the capital of Nangarhar Province during the early hours of Sunday. A spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force confirmed there had been "multiple explosions in the vicinity of Jalalabad airport," but he did not provide further details. Meanwhile, the Taliban militants said that they had carried out offensives, including a bomb attack, against the airport complex in the city which contains a major US air base.

Seven missing after Japan tunnel collapse starts fire

December 2, 2012 by legitgov

Seven missing after Japan tunnel collapse starts fire 02 Dec 2012 A tunnel on a heavily travelled highway in central Japan collapsed on Sunday, sending debris crashing down on cars, triggering a fire and leaving seven people missing, officials and media reported. Network television footage showed black smoke billowing from the 4.7 km (2.8-mile) tunnel in Yamanashi prefecture, about 80 km (50 miles) west of Tokyo on the main road connecting the capital to western Japan. Seven people were believed to be missing and two were injured, the fire service said. At least two cars were thought to be trapped.

Study: American Households Hit 43-Year Low in Net Worth

December 2, 2012 by legitgov

Study: American Households Hit 43-Year Low in Net Worth 30 Nov 2012 The median net worth of American households has dropped to a 43-year low as the lower and middle classes appear poorer and less stable than they have been since 1969. According to a recent study by New York University economics professor Edward N. Wolff, median net worth is at the decades-low figure of $57,000 (in 2010 dollars). And as the numbers in his study reflect, the situation only appears worse when all the statistics are taken as a whole. According to Wolff, between 1983 and 2010, the percentage of households with less than $10,000 in assets (using constant 1995 dollars) rose from 29.7 percent to 37.1 percent... Over that same period of time, the wealthiest 1 percent of American households increased their average wealth by 71 percent.

U.S. military taking bids to build complex for Israeli Air Force

December 2, 2012 by legitgov

U.S. military taking bids to build complex for Israeli Air Force --Facility is expected to cost the U.S. $25 million to $100 million 30 Nov 2012 The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is receiving bids to build a five-story complex for the Israeli Air Force, or IAF, near Tel Aviv. The facility, mysteriously dubbed "site 911," will be built under the auspices of the Foreign Military Sales program and is expected to cost the U.S. between $25 million and $100 million, according to a solicitation for bids posted on a U.S. government website. Only U.S. construction firms are able to bid on this contract, and the deadline for proposals is December 3, according to the notice. [Let me get this straight. The sociopaths in Congress, along with Barack Obama -- are poised to slash Social Security, Midicare, and Medicaid -- while US taxpayers fork over (another) $100 million for Israel's war machine?]

As Companies Seek Tax Deals, Governments Pay High Price

December 2, 2012 by legitgov

As Companies Seek Tax Deals, Governments Pay High Price --The Empty Promise of Tax Incentives 02 Dec 2012 A New York Times investigation has examined and tallied thousands of local incentives granted nationwide and has found that states, counties and cities are giving up more than $80 billion each year to companies. The beneficiaries come from virtually every corner of the corporate world, encompassing oil and coal conglomerates, technology and entertainment companies, banks and big-box retail chains. But the cost of the awards is certainly far higher. A full accounting, The Times discovered, is not possible because the incentives are granted by thousands of government agencies and officials, and many do not know the value of all their awards. Nor do they know if the money was worth it because they rarely track how many jobs are created. Even where officials do track incentives, they acknowledge that it is impossible to know whether the jobs would have been created without the aid.

Drone crashes mount at civilian airports

December 2, 2012 by legitgov

Drone crashes mount at civilian airports 30 Nov 2012 The April wreck was the latest in a rash of U.S. military drone crashes at overseas civilian airports in the past two years. The accidents reinforce concerns about the risks of flying the robot aircraft outside war zones, including in the United States. A review of thousands of pages of unclassified Air Force investigation reports, obtained by The Washington Post under public-records requests, shows that drones flying from civilian airports have been plagued by setbacks. Among the problems repeatedly cited are pilot error, mechanical failure, software bugs in the "brains" of the aircraft and poor coordination with civilian air-traffic controllers. [Just shoot them down, so they don't have to land. *Problem solved.*]

Tens of thousands of Islamists rally for Morsi in Cairo

December 2, 2012 by legitgov

Tens of thousands of Islamists rally for Morsi in Cairo 01 Dec 2012 Islamists in Egypt's capital rallied Saturday to support President Mohamed Morsi in what is emerging as a decisive battle with opposition forces in the country's messy political transition away from three decades of Hosni Mubarak's corrupt and [US-backed] undemocratic rule. Tens of thousands of Muslim Brotherhood and ultraconservative Islamists marched in a counterdemonstration to an energized week-old protest across the Nile in Tahrir Square by opposition groups challenging Morsi's expanded powers.

Guard Says Manning Protest Annoyed Brig Staff

December 2, 2012 by legitgov

Guard Says Manning Protest Annoyed Brig Staff 02 Dec 2012 Some workers at a Marine Corps brig housing a soldier charged with sending U.S. secrets to WikiLeaks became annoyed at a demonstration on his behalf the day before a confrontation that led to tighter restrictions on him, a former guard testified Saturday. The testimony by former Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jonathan Cline undercut government efforts to show that Pfc. Bradley Manning's tight confinement conditions were justified to prevent him from killing or hurting himself. The defense claims the nine months Manning spent in virtual isolation, sometimes without clothing, amounted to illegal pretrial punishment.

Court upholds sentence of ex-CIA station chief

December 1, 2012 by legitgov

Court upholds sentence of ex-CIA station chief 30 Nov 2012 An appeals court has unanimously upheld the nearly 5 1/2-year sentence of a former CIA station chief for sexually abusing an unconscious woman at the mansion the U.S. government provided for him in Algeria. The three-judge panel ruled Friday that U.S. District Judge Ellen Huvelle had adequately explained why she sentenced Andrew Warren to roughly double what was called for in sentencing guidelines. Warren argued that his Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression and substance abuse made it unreasonable to give him more than a brief sentence, followed by treatment at a private facility. The appeals court disagreed.

Canada's Polar Bears: International Environmental Group Demands Policy Explanation

December 1, 2012 by legitgov

Canada's Polar Bears: International Environmental Group Demands Policy Explanation 30 Nov 2012 Canada is being forced to explain its polar bear policies to an international environmental watchdog. The Commission on Environmental Co-operation, which is part of the North American Free Trade Agreement, has accepted a petition from a U.S.-based group that says Canada isn't following its own laws on protecting the bears. In accepting the petition, the commission has found that the Center for Biological Diversity has registered a legitimate concern under the terms of the treaty. The petition, filed in November 2011, alleges that Canadian officials ignored the most recent science on climate change global warming and the loss of Arctic sea ice when they ruled last year against changing the status of the bear from "special concern" to "threatened," which would rule out hunting.

San Onofre Nuclear Plant Investigating Possible Sabotage of Safety System

December 1, 2012 by legitgov

San Onofre Nuclear Plant Investigating Possible Sabotage of Safety System 30 Nov 2012 A California utility said Thursday it has notified the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of potential sabotage, possibly by an employee, of a crucial piece of safety equipment attached to one of its nuclear power reactors. The plant operator found engine coolant had been poured into an oil reservoir on an emergency backup generator, which would have likely caused the generator to malfunction if needed to help cool the reactor during a power failure. The tampering is being taken seriously and security at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station has been tightened, Southern California Edison said. An employee at the plant who asked not to be named because he feared reprisals from management said supervisors told employees on Thursday that the FBI would be taking over the investigation and that criminal charges were possible.

Justice Department Uses Red Tape to Delay Release of Required Information On Domestic Spying

December 1, 2012 by legitgov

Justice Department Uses Red Tape to Delay Release of Required Information On Domestic Spying Until Well After It Matters 29 Nov 2012 A couple of months ago, Julian Sanchez wrote about the ridiculous situation in which he filed a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request to reveal the latest semi-annual report from the Justice Department concerning how it was implementing the FISA Amendments Act of 2008. The FISA Amendments Act broadly expanded the ability of federal law enforcement, in particular the NSA, to spy on everyone. While there is some language that suggests it's only supposed to be used on foreigners, it's been revealed that there is a secret interpretation of the bill, that likely allows them to use a loophole (plus the secret interpretation) to collect and review tons of data on Americans. The FAA is up for renewal, and it's likely that Congress will rush through a five year extension -- despite overwhelming evidence that many in Congress don't know how the NSA is interpreting the bill (and even making statements that directly contradict the evidence of how the bill is being used).

Wikileaks suspect Bradley Manning admits making noose

December 1, 2012 by legitgov

Wikileaks suspect Bradley Manning admits making noose 30 Nov 2012 A US Army court has seen a noose made from a bed sheet by alleged Wikileaks source Private Bradley Manning as he considered suicide. Pte Manning, 24, told the hearing he had made it while being held in Kuwait, shortly after his arrest in May 2010. But the former intelligence analyst said he was no longer suicidal after he was taken to a US military prison. He says charges he faces for allegedly giving secret files to Wikileaks should be dropped because of his jail ordeal.

Senate backs quicker withdrawal from Afghanistan

December 1, 2012 by legitgov

Senate backs quicker withdrawal from Afghanistan 29 Nov 2012 Reflecting a war-weary nation, the Senate voted overwhelmingly Thursday for an accelerated withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan after more than a decade of fighting. The strong bipartisan vote of 62-33 sends a clear message to President Barack Obama and the military as they engage in high-stakes talks about the pace of drawing down the 66,000 U.S. troops there, with a White House announcement expected within weeks. Although the vote was on a nonbinding amendment to a defense policy bill, its significance could not be discounted amid the current discussions.

U.S. Is Weighing Stronger Action in Syrian Conflict

December 1, 2012 by legitgov

U.S. Is Weighing Stronger Action in Syrian Conflict 29 Nov 2012 The Obama administration is considering deeper intervention to help push President Bashar al-Assad from power, according to government officials involved in the discussions. While no decisions have been made, the administration is considering several alternatives, including directly providing arms to some opposition fighters. Administration officials discussed all of these steps before the presidential election. But the combination of President Obama's re-election, which has made the White House more willing to take risks, and a series of recent tactical successes by 'rebel' forces, one senior administration official said, "has given this debate a new urgency, and a new focus." [See: US as 'Facehugger' By Lori Price.]

San Onofre nuclear plant generator might have been tampered with, utility says

November 30, 2012 by legitgov

San Onofre nuclear plant generator might have been tampered with, utility says 30 Nov 2012 Security has been beefed up at the San Onofre nuclear power plant in Southern California after it was discovered that a generator there might have been tampered with, the plant operator said. The plant has been out of service since January due to a leak in a steam generator. Southern California Edison said it discovered engine coolant in an oil system in the backup diesel generator in late October during routine monitoring. An internal probe found evidence of potential tampering, though it could not be confirmed.

Israel announces plans for 3,000 more housing units in West Bank

November 30, 2012 by legitgov

Israel announces plans for 3,000 more housing units in West Bank 30 Nov 2012 Following a landmark United Nations vote upgrading the status of the Palestinian territories to become a "nonmember observer state" in the international body, Israel said Friday it would construct an additional 3,000 units of Jewish housing in the West Bank. The government is also moving forward with preliminary planning for a controversial development on the outskirts of Jerusalem that U.S. officials have opposed for decades, according to a government official... The hillside development, known as E-1, would connect the West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim with East Jerusalem, cutting off access between the Palestinian cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem.

US fiscal cliff talks target the working class

November 30, 2012 by legitgov

US fiscal cliff talks target the working class 29 Nov 2012 As the deadline for the so-called "fiscal cliff" grows nearer, the indications mount that, behind the smokescreen of deficit talks and media hype, the artificial fiscal emergency is the starting point of a process for making deep structural cuts in basic social programs that previously would have been considered politically impossible. Scattered press reports and statements by some Democrats as well as Republicans make clear that any deal to avert the fiscal cliff will only be a down payment on fundamental attacks on social entitlements.

U.N. General Assembly votes to recognize the state of Palestine

November 30, 2012 by legitgov

U.N. General Assembly votes to recognize the state of Palestine --The United States immediately criticized the historic vote. 29 Nov 2012 The United Nations voted overwhelmingly Thursday to recognize a Palestinian state, a long-sought victory for the Palestinians but an embarrassing diplomatic defeat for the United States. The resolution upgrading the Palestinians' status to a nonmember observer state at the United Nations was approved by a more than two-thirds majority of the 193-member world body -- a vote of 138-9, with 41 abstentions. A Palestinian flag was quickly unfurled on the floor of the General Assembly, behind the Palestinian delegation. [Sweet!]

Nobel peace laureates call for Israel military boycott over Gaza assault

November 30, 2012 by legitgov

Nobel peace laureates call for Israel military boycott over Gaza assault --Letter with 52 signatories including artists and activists also denounces US and EU 'complicity' through weapons sales 28 Nov 2012 A group of Nobel peace prize-winners, prominent artists and activists have issued a call for an international military boycott of Israel following its assault on the Gaza Strip this month. The letter also denounces the US, EU and several developing countries for what it describes as their "complicity" through weapons sales and other military support in the attack that killed 160 Palestinians, many of them civilians, including about 35 children.

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