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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 29,876

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Obama Decides To Arm Syrian Rebels After Chemical Weapons Proof

Al Arabiya

The White House said on Thursday that it will provide military assistance to the Syrian opposition after it has been concluded that the Assad’s regime used chemical weapons against his people and crossed what President Barack Obama had called a ‘red line.’

The Obama administration said it has provided Russia with the proof of the chemical weapons in Syria and that the subject will be discussed at an upcoming G8 summit.

The White House, in a statement issued late Thursday, said the use of chemical weapons “violates international norms and crosses clear red lines.”

Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, told the Associated Press: “We've prepared for many contingencies in Syria…We are going to make decisions on further actions on our own timeline.”



Affordable Care Act: Coverage May Be Unaffordable For Low-Wage Workers

Posted: 10:04 AM
By: Associated Press

WASHINGTON - It's called the Affordable Care Act, but President Barack Obama's health care law may turn out to be unaffordable for many low-wage workers, including employees at big chain restaurants, retail stores and hotels.

That might seem strange since the law requires medium-sized and large employers to offer "affordable" coverage or face fines.

But what's reasonable? Because of a wrinkle in the law, companies can meet their legal obligations by offering policies that would be too expensive for many low-wage workers.

For the employee, it's like a mirage -- attractive but out of reach.

The company can get off the hook, say corporate consultants and policy experts, but the employee could still face a federal requirement to get health insurance.

Many are expected to remain uninsured, possibly risking fines. That's due to another provision: the law says workers with an offer of "affordable" workplace coverage aren't entitled to new tax credits for private insurance, which could be a better deal for those on the lower rungs of the middle class.

Read more: http://www.abc15.com/dpp/news/national/affordable-care-act-coverage-may-be-unaffordable-for-low-wage-workers#ixzz2W7NOjiXV

Turkish PM Issues 'Final Warning' To Protesters To End Park Sit-In, Rejects EU Critics

Source: Associated Press

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey's prime minister issued a "final warning" to protesters on Thursday, demanding that they end their occupation of a park next to Istanbul's landmark Taksim Square.

Sticking to his trademark defiant tone, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan also rejected condemnation by the European Parliament over the excessive use of force by Turkish riot police against demonstrators.

The comments show that Erdogan appears determined to end two weeks of widespread protests that have trained an unflattering spotlight on his Islamic-rooted government and have morphed into the biggest street unrest of his 10-year tenure.

"We have arrived at the end of our patience," Erdogan told local party leaders in Ankara, the capital.

Read more: http://www.startribune.com/world/211341931.html

Wal-Mart's Everyday Hiring Strategy: Add More Temps

By Dhanya Skariachan and Jessica Wohl
Thu Jun 13, 2013 1:17am EDT

(Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc has in recent months been only hiring temporary workers at many of its U.S. stores, the first time the world's largest retailer has done so outside of the holiday shopping season.

A Reuters survey of 52 stores run by the largest U.S. private employer in the past month, including one in every U.S. state, showed that 27 were hiring only temps, 20 were hiring a combination of regular full, part-time and temp jobs, and five were not hiring at all. The survey was based on interviews with managers, sales staff and human resource department employees at the stores.

The new hiring policy is to ensure "we are staffed appropriately," when the stores are busiest and is not a cost-cutting move, said company spokesman David Tovar. Temporary workers, he said, are paid the same starting pay as other workers.

Using temporary workers enables the company to have adequate staff on busy weeknights and weekends without having to hire additional full-time staff.

Tovar said fewer than 10 percent of its U.S. workforce is temporary - or what the company internally calls "flexible associates" - compared to 1 to 2 percent before 2013. The majority of its workforce is still regular full-time staff, he said.



Members Of Congress Say They’re Tired Of Playing ’20 Questions’ With NSA

By Patricia Zengerle and Thomas Ferraro

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Some members of the Congress say that getting straight answers from intelligence agencies about top-secret surveillance is like playing the game “20 Questions,” where answers come only if a questioner knows exactly what to ask.

They say quality of closed briefings depends largely on who conducts the sessions and whether members go in with a working knowledge of programs and pointed questions.

“We, here, Congress needs to be informed of what’s going on, and we’re not, and that’s very disturbing to me,” said Democratic Senator Jon Tester, a sponsor of new legislation to force more disclosure to Congress.

A confidential briefing for the full Senate is set for Thursday to discuss details of the NSA surveillance. But a similar briefing Tuesday by officials from the Department of Justice, FBI, NSA and the office of the Director of National Intelligence for all 435 members of the House of Representatives left many lawmakers unsatisfied.

“I think there are still more questions than answers,” Republican Representative Tom Price said after the session.

- See more at: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/06/13/members-of-congress-say-theyre-tired-of-playing-20-questions-with-nsa/#sthash.t7HrIKNK.dpuf

China Accuses US Of "Double Standards" On Hacking

Beijing, June 13, 2013 (PTI):

China today kept mum on US whistleblower Edward Snowden's attempts to take refuge in Hong Kong but took a moral high ground accusing Washington of "double standards" citing his allegations that it has been conducting hacking attacks on China for years.

"Unfortunately I have no information right now to provide to you", the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying told a packed media briefing here today declining to reveal how Beijing plans to deal with Snowden.

The former US government subcontractor, who exposed massive US phone and Internet spying, has delivered a propaganda coup of sorts for China to counter US' persistent allegations of Chinese hacking attacks.

"On Snowden's case, we have noticed relevant report but unfortunately we have no information to offer", she said. While stonewalling all questions on his possible extradition, Hua, took a dig at Washington reminding the media how Beijing was complaining of hacker attacks from US for long.

In his interview to the Hong Kong based South China Morning Post from a "secret location in the city", the 29-year-old former CIA analyst made claims that the US government had been hacking into computers in Hong Kong and on the mainland for years.



FBI’s Mueller Says U.S. Surveillance Programs Operate Legally

By Phil Mattingly - Jun 13, 2013
The U.S. government legally conducted two classified surveillance programs that collected phone and Internet communications data, FBI Director Robert Mueller said.

“The legality has been assured by the Department of Justice,” Mueller said today during testimony to the House Judiciary Committee. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court “has ruled on these two programs, monitors these two programs and has assured the legality of the efforts undertaken in these two programs.”

Lawmakers have raised concerns since the disclosure that two National Security Agency surveillance programs gave the federal government access to data on millions of U.S. phone calls and Internet activities.

Michigan Representative John Conyers, the top Democrat on the panel, questioned whether the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which has a role in analyzing and using the data, was violating the intent of the federal statutes that allowed the programs to exist.

“It seems clear that the government’s activity exceeds the authority this congress has provided, both in letter and in spirit,” said Conyers, who also said he plans to introduce legislation tomorrow to impose restrictions and new oversight for the programs.



Positive Signs: Jobless Claims Drop, Retail Sales Rise

June 13, 201311:38 AM

The number of first-time claims for unemployment insurance has dropped back down to one of its lowest levels since January 2008, the Employment and Training Administration says.

According to that agency, there were 334,000 initial claims filed last week, down 12,000 from the week before.

Also Thursday morning, the Census Bureau reported that retail sales rose 0.6 percent in May from April. The Associated Press says "the gain shows consumers remain resilient despite higher taxes and could drive faster growth later this year. ... The April gain was led by a 1.8 percent jump in auto sales, the biggest increase in six months."



Congress Rating as Institution Hits Low, Gallup Says

By Laura Litvan - Jun 13, 2013
The public’s scorn for a gridlocked U.S. Congress continues to grow, with a new Gallup poll showing confidence in the legislative body falling to 10 percent, the lowest level Gallup has ever found for any institution.

The poll released today found Congress dead last among 16 institutions in a survey which included banks, the U.S. Supreme Court and the presidency. Congress was behind organized labor and health maintenance organizations in public confidence.

Congress’s 10 percent rating in the survey was three percentage points lower than in a similar Gallup survey of the public’s views of major institutions conducted at the same time last year.

The decline in confidence in Congress dates back to 1973, when it was 42 percent, a level not matched since. While it’s ebbed and flowed, public opinion of the institution has fallen sharply in the last decade. Gallup’s current level of 10 percent is in line with other polls that show historically poor approval ratings for Congress and its top leaders.

The public’s contempt is probably driven by the lack of action on significant legislation at a time of split party control, according to Gallup. Both chambers are working on immigration legislation, with the full Senate debating the most significant revision to immigration law in a generation while House leaders are seeking to craft a measure.



Senate Rejects Border Security Change to Immigration Bill

By Kathleen Hunter - Jun 13, 2013
The U.S. Senate rejected a Republican proposal to immigration legislation that would prohibit undocumented immigrants from gaining legal status until the Department of Homeland Security could show it had “effective control” of the borders for six months.

The measure, offered by Senator Charles Grassley, was defeated on a 43-57 vote. It is the first of dozens of amendments proposed to a revision of immigration law to receive a vote on the Senate floor.

“This amendment is the first of many that will improve the bill and that will do what the authors of the bill say they want to do: Secure the border,” Grassley said. “As we read the details of the bill, it’s clear that the approach taken is legalize first, enforce later.”

The Senate bill would create a path to citizenship for about 11 million undocumented U.S. immigrants while tightening security at the border with Mexico.

Republicans including Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a co-sponsor of the bill, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky have said the bill’s border security elements must be strengthened to win their votes. Republicans are concerned that without improvements to U.S. border security, the legislation would spur a wave of illegal immigration similar to one that followed the last major revision in 1986.


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