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Purveyor's Journal
Purveyor's Journal
December 13, 2012

Congress Seeks To Double US Funding Of Anti-Missile Cooperation With Israel

Source: Times of Israel

In wake of Pillar of Defense success, Iron Dome spending may balloon from $210 million to $680 million

December 13, 2012

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Congress wants to at least double the Obama administration’s funding request for anti-missile cooperation with Israel.

Obama asked Congress for $99.9 million in 2013 for “Israel co-operative programs,” which include programs like the long-range Arrow anti-missile system and the short-range David’s Sling.

The US House of Representatives version of the National Defense Authorization Act, passed earlier this year, recommended adding $168 million to that request, and the Senate recommended adding $100 million in its own National Defense Authorization Act, passed last week.

A letter sent Wednesday by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.) to the top senators on the Armed Services Committee urges them to agree to the higher House increase in the bicameral conference talks that finalize the act.

Read more: http://www.timesofisrael.com/congress-seeks-to-double-us-funding-of-anti-missile-cooperation-with-israel/

December 13, 2012

Teamsters President Warns Of Brewing ‘Civil War’ In Michigan

The fight over union rights in Michigan has some peoples’ blood absolutely boiling, and Teamsters Union President James Hoffa is chief among them.

“This is just the first round of a battle that’s going to divide this state,” Hoffa told CNN on Tuesday. “We’re going to have a civil war in this state because this has been passed by a lame duck legislature.”

Michigan, which has been strongly pro-union since the founding of the United Autoworkers Union in 1935, became on Tuesday a so-called “right to work” state, which means workers are not required to pay union dues. Republicans in the statehouse passed the bills this week surrounded by angry protesters outside the Capitol.

“There was no debate,” Hoffa insisted. “This was done in five days, it was not approved by the people of the state of Michigan. If anything, it should have been on the ballot. This was a monumental decision to make and for it to be done by outgoing senators and state legislators is a tremendous mistake. What they are doing here is basically betraying democracy. If there’s any question here, let’s put it on the ballot, let the people of Michigan decide what’s good for Michigan.”



December 12, 2012

Michigan: Bill Allowing Concealed Weapons In Schools Approved By House Committee


A bill approved by a House committee Wednesday would allow gun owners with concealed weapons to carry those weapons in schools and other formerly “gun-free” zones.

David Eggert from MLive has more:

Michigan now prohibits people licensed for concealed weapons from carrying them in schools, day care centers, sports arenas, bars, places of worship, hospitals, dorms and casinos. They can, however, openly carry their guns in schools and all other places except federal buildings, courthouses and casinos.

The bill would let CPL holders apply for an exemption so they could carry concealed guns in those gun-free zones, though they no longer could openly carry there under the legislation. They would have to get at least eight more hours of training and fire 94 additional rounds at a firing range.

However, private property owners—churches, bars, hospitals and others—would be allowed to prohibit guns from being carried on their premises. Because of their autonomy under the state constitution, public universities also could ban guns.

Read more: http://www.michiganradio.org/post/bill-allowing-concealed-weapons-schools-approved-house-committee

December 12, 2012

Judge Rules For Censorship Of Torture Testimony At Guantánamo Military Commission

Source: ENews Park Forest

NEW YORK --(ENEWSPF)--December 12 - The judge presiding over the Guantánamo Bay military commission 9/11 trial has approved the government’s request to censor any testimony from the defendants relating to their torture. The American Civil Liberties Union had challenged the government’s request, arguing that the American public has a First Amendment right to hear the testimony. The ACLU plans to seek further review of the ruling, which was released today.

Military Judge Col. James Pohl ruled that any statements by the defendants’ concerning their treatment – including torture while in U.S. custody – could be kept from the public as classified, and upheld the continued use of a 40-second delay audio feed of the proceedings.

“We’re profoundly disappointed by the military judge’s decision, which didn’t even address the serious First Amendment issues at stake here. The government wanted to ensure that the American public would never hear the defendants’ accounts of illegal CIA torture, rendition and detention, and the military judge has gone along with that shameful plan,” said Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU's National Security Program. “For now, the most important terrorism trial of our time will be organized around judicially approved censorship of the defendants’ own thoughts, experiences and memories of CIA torture. The decision undermines the government’s claim that the military commission system is transparent and deals a grave blow to its legitimacy.”

In its request, the government had contended that any statements by the defendants’ concerning their “exposure” to the CIA’s detention and interrogation program are classified as “sources, methods and activities” of the U.S. and can be withheld from the public.

Read more: http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/latest-national/military-casualties/39083-judge-rules-for-censorship-of-torture-testimony-at-guantanamo-military-commission.html

December 12, 2012

McDonald’s $8.25 Man and $8.75 Million CEO Shows Pay Gap

By Leslie Patton - Dec 12, 2012

Tyree Johnson scrubs himself with a bar of soap in a McDonald’s (MCD) bathroom and puts on fresh deodorant. He stashes his toiletries in a Kenneth Cole bag, a gift from his mother who works the counter at Macy’s, and hops on an El train. His destination: another McDonald’s.

Johnson isn’t one of Chicago’s many homeless people who seek shelter in fast-food joints. He’s a McDonald’s employee, at both stores -- one in the Loop, the other about a mile away in the shadow of Holy Name Cathedral.

He needs the makeshift baths because hygiene and appearance are part of his annual compensation reviews. Even with frequent scrubbings, he said before a recent shift, it’s hard to remove the essence of the greasy food he works around.

“I hate when my boss tells me she won’t give me a raise because she can smell me,” he said.

Johnson, 44, needs the two paychecks to pay rent for his apartment at a single-room occupancy hotel on the city’s north side. While he’s worked at McDonald’s stores for two decades, he still doesn’t get 40 hours a week and makes $8.25 an hour, minimum wage in Illinois.



December 12, 2012

Guns-to-Work Laws Spread in U.S. as Business Fights NRA

By Margaret Newkirk - Dec 12, 2012

Republican-dominated legislatures in at least four states are planning to consider allowing employees to bring guns to work, turning two of the party’s traditional constituencies against each other: gun-rights supporters and businesses.

The measures, backed by the National Rifle Association, would allow workers in Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina and Pennsylvania to keep the weapons locked and hidden in their cars in employee parking areas. Seventeen states have approved similar measures since 2003, according to a tally by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence in San Francisco.

The laws extend gun rights onto property controlled by private employers, prompting opposition from companies such as FedEx Corp. (FDX) and Volkswagen AG. (VOW) The proposals are creating a dilemma for Republicans, said Robert Spitzer, chairman of the political science department at the State University of New York at Cortland.

“The gun rights movement is now colliding against traditional business interests,” Spitzer said. “It’s a direct clash between a values issue and an economic one and both of these competing forces are particularly strong within the Republican Party.”



December 12, 2012

Wealthy Prepare for First Increase Since 1993: Taxes

By Margaret Collins - Dec 12, 2012

Taxes will rise for wealthy Americans next year. It’s still a question of how much.

U.S. income tax rates for top earners and investors will go up for the first time since 1993. They will see levies rise on unearned income and wages starting Jan. 1 to finance the 2010 law that sought to expand health-care coverage. President Barack Obama wants higher taxes on their compensation, capital gains, dividends and estates to reduce the deficit, proposing to raise the top marginal rate to as much as 43.4 percent on some income from 35 percent.

Lawmakers in both political parties have called for an overhaul of the U.S. tax code, which also could curtail tax breaks for home mortgage interest, municipal bonds, charitable contributions and retirement savings used by wealthy people.

“The prevailing emotion for our clients is frustration with the current situation with regards to taxes,” said Leo Kelly, managing director and partner at HighTower Advisors’ Kelly Wealth Management. “They really feel like they’re being held hostage because they can’t get information to make an intelligent decision.”



December 12, 2012

Calpers Bankruptcy Strategy Pits Retirees vs. All Others

By Steven Church and James Nash - Dec 12, 2012
The California Public Employees’ Retirement System is trying to rewrite the rules for bankrupt cities, claiming that it should get paid before almost everyone else, including bondholders.

The biggest U.S. public pension fund would set a legal precedent should courts adopt Calpers’s position that, as an arm of the state, it is exempt from rules that apply to other creditors in the Chapter 9 bankruptcy cases of San Bernardino and Stockton. A Calpers victory would threaten public services in a city trying to reorganize in bankruptcy, or in an extreme case, cause a city to disincorporate, attorney James E. Spiotto said in an interview.

“Chapter 9 was never intended to cause the liquidation of a municipality or the reduction of services,” said Spiotto, who isn’t involved in the San Bernardino and Stockton cases. “What Calpers is doing is threatening the basic tenet of Chapter 9.”

Pension costs for retired public employees are straining local governments from California to Rhode Island. In Southern California, San Bernardino says it is so strapped for cash it must put off $13 million in payments to Calpers or risk public safety. About 400 miles (644 kilometers) north, creditors of Stockton are fighting Calpers in court as well, arguing that the pension fund shouldn’t be given preferential treatment and urging the city to take an aggressive stance in negotiations.



December 11, 2012

Michigan Anti-Abortion Package Passes House

The state Senate of Michigan passed a package of anti-abortion legislation last week in an effort to pass abortion restriction legislation before the end of the lame duck session. SB 612, 613, and 614 seek to eliminate insurance coverage for abortion services with no exception for rape or incest.

The bills would prevent abortion from being a covered benefit under the state health care exchange that must be implemented by 2014 as part of the Affordable Care Act. They also would prevent abortion services coverage from being supplied by private insurance policies from an employer. In this case, the employer or the individual would have to purchase a separate policy specifically for abortion coverage. The only abortion exception that would be covered without a supplemental policy would be in a situation where the woman would die without the procedure.

Desiree Cooper of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan told the Huffington Post "It feels like [state legislators] are completely tone-deaf to what Americans want in general, which is for legislators to pay attention to the economy, particularly in Michigan, and to women and their power to say, 'This is what we want, and this is what we don't want.'"



December 11, 2012

Lawmakers Ask Obama To Close Palestinian Office In D.C.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers are circulating a letter on Capitol Hill asking the White House to punish Palestinians for their successful statehood bid at the United Nations last month. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Ed Royce (R-CA), Eliot Engel (D-CA), and Howard Berman (D-CA) have signed on to the letter imploring President Obama to shut down the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s (PLO) office in Washington, D.C. and “call our Consul-General in Jerusalem home for consultations.” The letter, which is supported by the American Israel Public Affairs committee, says to use “every means at our disposal to ensure that this General Assembly vote does not serve as a precedent for elevating the status of the PLO in other UN bodies or international forums.”

Ros-Lehtinen last month called for cutting aid to the Palestinian Authority in response to the statehood bid (a move that isn’t a very good idea). And a Senate amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act last week would have done just that and also called on the U.S. to shut down the PLO’s diplomatic mission in the U.S.

CAP’s Matt Duss wrote that responses like these are mistaken and could potentially help groups like Hamas:

“U.S. policymakers and legislators should consider the words of several former Israeli officials who have come out in support of the Palestinian bid, including former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who said in a recent interview that “the Palestinian request from the United Nations is congruent with the basic concept of the two-state solution. Therefore, I see no reason to oppose it.” Writing in Foreign Policy this week, former deputy Israeli defense minister Ephraim Sneh warned that efforts to punish [Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas and the Palestinian Authority over the U.N. bid — which would likely redound to the benefit of Abbas’ more hardline rivals in Hamas — “would be a shot not in the foot but in the liver — Israel’s."



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