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herding cats

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Member since: Mon Nov 18, 2013, 03:56 PM
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Christie ally David Wildstein pleads guilty, says Bridgegate closures were retribution

NEWARK — Former Port Authority executive David Wildstein pleaded guilty Friday to his role in the politically-motivated closure of local access lanes to the George Washington Bridge.

Wildstein, 53, admitted to conspiring with former Port Authority Deputy Director Bill Baroni and Gov. Chris Christie's former Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly to "punish" Fort Lee mayor Mark Sokolich for not endorsing Christie in his re-election bid.

Wildstein will be released on a $100,000 personal recognizance bond in return for his cooperation with the government.

Watching the proceedings were the two Democratic legislators who spearheaded hearings into the episode: Assembly Deputy Speaker John Wisniewski and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg. Wildstein refused to answer questions posed by an Wisnewski's Assembly committee last year, citing his right to avoid incriminating himself.


Ally of Christie Pleads Guilty in George Washington Bridge Case; Other Indictments Expected

Bringing to a head a 16-month federal investigation into the George Washington Bridge lane closings scandal, a judge in New Jersey was expected to unseal indictments of two people close to Gov. Chris Christie at a court hearing Friday, according to people with knowledge of the case.

Bill Baroni, the former deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and Bridget Anne Kelly, a former deputy chief of staff to Mr. Christie, were expected to be indicted.

The news comes as David Wildstein, another former Port Authority official and a high-school friend of Mr. Christie, pleaded guilty at the United States District Court in Newark to conspiracy to commit fraud and “conspiracy against civil rights.”

Judge Susan D. Wigenton, who presided over the case, laid out the scheme by detailing his criminal acts. She asked a laundry list of questions, all of which Mr. Wildstein answered with a soft “yes,” while standing at the defense table.

She asked if he conspired with Mr. Baroni and Ms. Kelly to shut down lanes to punish Mayor Mark Sokolich of Fort Lee for not endorsing Mr. Christie in his 2013 re-election campaign.
Continue reading the main story
Graphic: Chris Christie and the Lane Closings: A Spectator’s Guide

“Did you agree with Mr. Baroni and Ms. Kelly to punish Mayor Sokolich by causing significant lane access problems,” the judge asked, staring down from the bench at Mr. Wildstein.

“Yes,” Mr. Wildstein answered.


Posted by herding cats | Fri May 1, 2015, 12:09 PM (9 replies)

U.S. Antitrust Lawyers Said to Be Leaning Against Comcast Merger

Source: Bloomberg

Staff attorneys at the Justice Department’s antitrust division are nearing a recommendation to block Comcast Corp.’s bid to buy Time Warner Cable Inc., according to people familiar with the matter.

Attorneys who are investigating Comcast’s $45.2 billion proposal to create a nationwide cable giant are leaning against the merger out of concerns that consumers would be harmed and could submit their review as soon as next week, said the people.

The antitrust lawyers will present their findings to Renata Hesse, a deputy assistant attorney general for antitrust, who will decide, along with the division’s top officials, whether to file a federal lawsuit to block the deal, they said.

The Justice Department lawyers have been contacting outside parties in the last few weeks to shore up evidence to support a potential case against the merger, one of the people said.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-17/u-s-antitrust-lawyers-said-to-be-leaning-against-comcast-merger

GOP Senator Explains GOP's Biggest Fear If Obamacare Goes Down In Court

In a little-noticed radio interview, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) articulated the GOP's biggest fear if the Supreme Court wipes out Obamacare tax credits for millions of Americans who buy insurance from the federal HealthCare.gov exchange.

The fear: President Barack Obama and Democrats will be ready with a one-page bill to restore the subsidies, as well as a slew of attack ads telling horror stories about "individuals that have benefited from Obamacare on the backs of the American taxpayer" and lost their coverage, the Republican said.

Here's the transcript from the April 14 interview radio interview, in which Johnson is asked a question by host Jay Weber about King v. Burwell.

JOHNSON: Unfortunately, President Obama's response to an adverse decision — in other words one that actually follows the law — would be really simple. Just a one-sentence bill allowing people’s subsidies to flow to federal exchanges and/or offer the governors, 'Hey, we know you got those federal exchanges. Just sign the bottom line. We’ll make those established by the state.' And of course, he'll have the ads all racked up with the individuals that have benefited from Obamacare on the backs of the American taxpayer. He'll have all those examples as well so...

WEBER: And the sad sack stories about who's dying from what and why they can’t get their coverage.


WEBER: Oh yeah.


Audio below:

The reality of getting what they've wished for is setting in for some in the GOP. It's disgusting how they're fine with the people dying from a lack of medical care, and yet worried these deaths will be used against them.

My hope is Russ Feingold hands Ron Johnson his walking papers in 2016, no matter what happens with the ACA ruling.

AFL-CIO launches six-figure ad campaign to stop Fast Track

As soon as Congress introduces Trade Promotion Authority, also known as "fast track," the AFL-CIO will launch a massive six figure advertising campaign to pressure 16 Senators and 36 members of Congress to oppose fast track. The campaign, which will run through August, will begin with digital ads and may expand into TV, radio and newspaper ads.

Examples of the digital ads can be viewed here. When people click the ads, they will be directed here.

"These ads -- which follow months of rallies, congressional meetings and unprecedented grassroots activities -- will remind politicians that the trade debate is enormously important to working families. We have seen too often how bad trade deals have devastated our communities.

"We can't afford to pass fast track, which would lead to more lost jobs and lower wages. We want Congress to keep its leverage over trade negotiations -- not rubber stamp a deal that delivers profits for global corporations, but not good jobs for working people," said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

The announcement of the advertising campaign comes in the middle of an unprecedented week of action and is part of a massive mobilization effort by organized labor and its allies to pressure Congress to maintain its leverage over trade policy. This Saturday, the AFL-CIO and its member unions are organizing more than 50 events throughout the country.


White House Rips Republicans As Obama Vows Veto of $3 Million Tax Cut For Millionaires

In a strongly worded veto threat, the White House shredded Republicans for a bill that would give millionaires and billionaires a tax cut that averages $3 million each.

The White House issued a stern veto threat of the latest Republican attempt to repeal the Estate Tax:

The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 1105, which would add hundreds of billions of dollars to the deficit to provide large tax cuts exclusively to the very wealthiest Americans.

Repealing the estate tax exclusively benefits just the wealthiest one or two estates out of every thousand—which would receive a tax cut averaging more than $3 million each—because current law already exempts more than $5 million of wealth for individuals and more than $10 million of wealth for couples from the tax. Given these large exemptions, well over 99 percent of Americans, including virtually all small businesses and family farms, do not pay any estate tax. H.R. 1105 would also shift a greater share of the tax burden onto working Americans at a time when the top one percent already holds more than 40 percent of the Nation’s wealth and wealth disparities have risen to levels not seen since the 1930s.

H.R. 1105 is fiscally irresponsible and, if enacted, would add $269 billion to the deficit over ten years, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. The bill would worsen the Nation’s long-term fiscal challenges, jeopardizing programs and investments important to the middle class and national security. In addition, H.R. 1105, which was reported by the House Ways and Means Committee on March 25, is inconsistent with the budget resolution passed by the House of Representatives that same day, which depends on current law estate tax revenues to meet its purported fiscal goals.

H.R. 1105 is even more extreme than the temporary estate tax repeal enacted in 2001. That legislation provided for a “carryover basis” regime to prevent large amounts of accumulated wealth from escaping both income and estate tax. H.R. 1105 contains no such provision. Instead, it leaves in place the largest capital gains loophole in the tax code by retaining “stepped-up basis” rules that exempt capital gains on assets held until death from income taxes. The wealthiest Americans can often afford to hold onto assets until death, which lets them use the stepped-up basis loophole to avoid ever having to pay income tax on capital gains. By retaining stepped-up basis even after repealing the estate tax, enactment of H.R. 1105 would not only add hundreds of billions of dollars to the deficit to provide huge tax cuts to the most fortunate, it would endorse the principle that the wealthiest Americans should not have to pay tax on certain forms of income at all. By contrast, the President’s Budget would repeal the stepped-up basis loophole.

The Administration has consistently supported tax relief for middle-class and working families. The President’s FY 2016 Budget proposes tax credits that allow paychecks to go further in covering the cost of child care, college, and a secure retirement, and would create and expand tax credits that support and reward work. In addition, it would invest in accelerating and sharing economic growth through education, research, infrastructure, and help for working families. The President’s proposals are fully paid for, primarily by closing tax loopholes for the highest-income Americans. The Administration wants to work with the Congress on fiscally responsible tax relief for middle-class and working Americans. However, H.R. 1105 represents the wrong approach to the Nation’s fiscal and economic challenges. If the President were presented with H.R. 1105, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.

Link to PoliticsUSA full article.

Michael Slager sued by black man who says he was tased while lying face-down

Source: The Guardian

The police officer who killed Walter Scott in South Carolina has been sued by another black resident of North Charleston, who alleges he was tased in the back by Michael Slager while lying face-down on the pavement.

Slager is among three patrolmen named in a lawsuit filed by Julius Wilson, who said he was arrested after being stopped in his car in August last year. Wilson is also suing the city of North Charleston, the city police department and the police chief, Eddie Driggers.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Wilson described Slager and his colleagues as “bad, corrupt cops”. He said: “The use of excessive force or punishment to torture suspects is not something that should be tolerated by the North Charleston police department.”


The lawsuit accused North Charleston of having “an unwritten policy to simply ‘look the other way’” that had “fostered an environment where improper and unconstitutional conduct was condoned, tolerated and/or emboldened” by Chief Driggers and city authorities.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/apr/13/michael-slager-walter-scott-stun-gun-lawsuit

G.E. to Retreat From Finance in Post-Crisis Reorganization

Source: New York Times

General Electric plans to sell off most of its finance arm over the next two years, redefining the multinational conglomerate as it seeks to complete a transformation begun amid the tumult of the financial crisis.

In addition to huge planned sales of assets outlined by the company on Friday, G.E. will take other significant steps, including bringing back about $36 billion in cash that now resides overseas.

Rapidly shrinking the finance arm, GE Capital — once the most powerful driver of the company’s earnings until it rocked the parent company after the fall of Lehman Brothers in 2008 — will erase one of the most prominent legacies of G.E.’s former chief executive, Jack Welch.

But it could also release the company from one of its biggest burdens: strict regulatory requirements that come with GE Capital’s being regarded as a financial institution that is too big to fail.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/11/business/dealbook/general-electric-to-sell-bulk-of-its-finance-unit.html

These Maps Show Why We Keep Electing Climate Change Deniers

One of the most significant obstacles to addressing climate change is the fact that huge numbers of US politicians reject the overwhelming scientific consensus that humans are warming the planet. Why does the situation persist? How can a senator who (literally) holds up a snowball as evidence that global warming is a hoax keep winning reelection? How can someone who declares himself a climate "skeptic" be a front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination? As newly released research from the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication makes painfully clear, GOP climate deniers actually hold views that are quite similar to those of the voters who elect them.

The Yale research is based on data from more than 13,000 survey responses since 2008. It estimates that nationwide, just 48 percent of people agree with the scientific consensus that global warming is caused "mostly" by humans. While other recent polls have found a somewhat higher percentage who say they believe humans are causing the planet to warm, Yale's numbers are not a good sign for those—like billionaire activist Tom Steyer—who are trying to turn climate change denial into a disqualifying political position.

Things look even more discouraging when you use the researchers' snazzy interactive maps to break down the estimates by congressional district. The blue districts on the map below are places where the researchers' statistical model predicts that fewer than half of respondents believe that humans are primarily responsible for climate change. Yellow/orange districts are places where at least half of respondents accept the scientific consensus. As you can see, there's an awful lot of blue—according to the data, 58 percent of US congressional districts have majorities that don't accept the climate science.

More at link: http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/04/these-maps-show-why-we-keep-electing-climate-change-deniers
Posted by herding cats | Thu Apr 9, 2015, 09:17 PM (2 replies)

Study: Women Are Better Educated, But Poorer, Than Men

Some commentators argue that with more women earning college degrees than men, and with more value being placed on “soft skills,” it’s just a matter of time before men start losing out to women in the workplace. A new report shows just how far the United States is from that reality.

The report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) on women’s poverty and opportunity finds that despite significant gains in educational achievement, women earn less and have higher poverty levels than men in all 50 states.

IWPR found that more women than men have a bachelor’s degree or higher in 29 states, and the share of women with that level of education has increased in every state and the District of Columbia since 2000. Women made up 57 percent of college students from 2012 to 2013.

At the same time as more women have earned a degree, however, more women have slipped into poverty: The percentage of women living above the poverty line declined from 87.9 in 2002 to 85.4 in 2013.

Posted by herding cats | Thu Apr 9, 2015, 09:04 PM (2 replies)

Michael Slager took only 6 seconds to claim Scott had "grabbed" his Taser.

The more I think on this the more it bothers me. From what we've seen, there's a pervasive argument this claim wasn't true. However, there is a gap from before the video begins when there was a struggle taking place.

What we do know now to be an undisputed fact is there was no CPR, no attempt to help the victim, as was also previously claimed.

Michael Slager radioed in Taser claim six seconds after firing at Walter Scott

The police officer who shot Walter Scott radioed in to claim that Scott had “grabbed my Taser”, six seconds after firing his final shot, despite video suggesting the unarmed man was not in possession of the stun gun at any point, a Guardian analysis has shown.

Syncing police scanner audio with a shocking video – the eyewitness footage out of South Carolina which led to officer Michael Slager being charged with murder – raises further questions about whether either of two officers on the video performed any CPR on Scott as was previously claimed by police.


At this point a second officer, now identified as Clarence Habersham, arrives on the scene and radios in. Slager then walks back towards the body and radios in stating: “I need to secure my vehicle”. At this point – over a minute after the last shot is fired – neither officer appears to have performed CPR on Scott.

Slager then walks and drops the item, which some have speculated is a Taser, next to Scott’s body.

At this point Habersham radios in to say he has detected gunshots to Scott’s chest on the right side. He then radios to say he has detected a gunshot wound to the buttocks. He appears to be pulling Scott’s T-shirt up at this point.


Walter Scott shooting footage synced with police scanner audio – video synced

There's some wiggle room for the defense as to what took place before the video begins. At the beginning of the video you can hear what sounds like a taser being used on Scott, which implies the officer had control of the the taser at the time. After the video begins we see an object is either knocked or falls to the ground behind Slager. We don't know if the object is the taser, but we do know whatever it is Slager goes back and picks it up after cuffing Scott, and later drops it by his body. All this being what it is, it still leaves the defense some room to attempt to validate the claim that Scott attempted to grab, or did grab the taser at some point. Which shouldn't be a defense against the shooting, but it will be used to attempt to make Slager appear slightly more truthful.

Which makes the documented lie about the CPR and the attempt to help Scott all the more important.

Police reports say that officers performed CPR and delivered first aid to Mr. Scott. The video shows that for several minutes after the shooting, Mr. Scott remained face down with his hands cuffed behind his back. A second officer arrives, puts on blue medical gloves and attends to Mr. Scott, but is not shown performing CPR. As sirens wail in the background, a third officer later arrives, apparently with a medical kit, but is also not seen performing CPR.

I don't know what the dash-cam video will reveal when/if it's released today, but it's clear from what we have already seen there was no attempt to help Scott as had been previously claimed. That was a lie to make the police look better in the eyes of the public. This important, even if Scott was clearly already dead, the lie was still told to attempt to make them look better, and to muddy the opinion of the possible jurors down the road. It wasn't true, though. It was a lie.

Man Who Filmed Walter Scott Shooting: Never Saw Cops Perform CPR

Which makes begs the question how many other officer involved shootings in the past five years in SC were also not reported truthfully?

EXCLUSIVE: SC officers exonerated in more than 200 shootings

Police in South Carolina have fired their weapons at 209 suspects in the past five years, and a handful of officers have been accused of pulling the trigger illegally – but none has being convicted, according to an analysis by The State newspaper.

In South Carolina, it remains exceedingly rare for an officer to be found at fault criminally for shooting at someone.

In an unusual turnaround, prosecutors late last year filed a spate of charges for use of excessive force against three white officers in the shootings of black drivers. Only one went to trial but resulted in a hung jury.

Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/news/local/crime/article15654974.html#storylink=cpy

I don't know if any of these incidents involved unwarranted shootings, but it's a question worth asking. Police should not be in charge of investigating their own shootings. Ever. In any state. The potential for corruption in the investigation is too high. Permitting policies such as this leads to a situation where police know all the pretty things to say to appease the media, and thus a sizable part of the population. Which leaves those who are victims, who are statistically the minority populations, feeling powerless to obtain justice. This has to change.

Posted by herding cats | Thu Apr 9, 2015, 03:25 PM (3 replies)
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