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More signs that Congress is owned by corporations

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Igor Volsky has a post at ThinkProgress titled “Congress Poised To Eliminate Key Tax Breaks For Middle Class, Provide Permanent Tax Breaks For Corporations.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has reached a compromise with House Republicans on a package of tax breaks that would permanently extend relief for big multinational corporations without providing breaks for middle or lower-income families, individuals with knowledge of the deal tell ThinkProgress.

Under the terms of the $444 billion agreement, lawmakers would phase out all tax breaks for clean energy and wind energy but would maintain fossil fuel subsidies. Expanded eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit would also end in 2017, even though the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that allowing the provisions to expire would push “16 million people in low-income working families, including 8 million children into — or deeper into — poverty.” The proposal would help students pay for college by making permanent the American Permanent Opportunity Tax Credit, a Democratic priority.

Meanwhile, two-thirds of the package would make permanent tax provisions that are intended to help businesses, including a research and development credit, small business expensing, and a reduction in the S-Corp recognition period for built-in gains tax.

The costs of the package will not be offset.

“This Congress seems willing to give huge tax cuts to big businesses—who are already doing better than ever—but somehow can’t prevent tax increases on 50 million working Americans that will occur when expansions of the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit expire,” Harry Stein, the Associate Director for Fiscal Policy at American Progress Action Fund, told ThinkProgress. “This is a great deal for CEOs and a terrible deal for struggling families.”

On Monday, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew also blasted the emerging agreement as “fiscally irresponsible” and doing “very little for working families.” He said, “Any deal on tax extenders must ensure that the economic benefits are broadly shared. We are committed to working with Congress to address the issue in a manner that is fiscally responsible and extends critical tax benefits for working families.”

In April, the Senate Finance Committee extended most of the 56 expiring tax provisions through 2015, while the House voted to make permanent breaks that primarily benefit businesses.

Congress is expected to vote on the package next week.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 November 2014 at 1:03 pm

An alleged Cosby ‘fixer’ comes out of the shadows

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Interesting report in the Washington Post.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 November 2014 at 3:27 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life, Law

Cool idea: Don’t just punish bad drivers, reward good drivers.

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Negative fines, in effect. Good article, cool idea.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 November 2014 at 2:57 pm

More people in Utah are shot by police than by criminals

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Think of it: in Utah the police are more dangerous (with respect to shootings) than criminals. From an excellent column by Radley Balko that includes some other examples of police shooting innocent people:

. . . Finally, a sobering report from the Salt Lake Tribune.

In the past five years, more Utahns have been killed by police than by gang members.

Or drug dealers. Or from child abuse.

And so far this year, deadly force by police has claimed more lives — 13, including a Saturday shooting in South Jordan — than has violence between spouses and dating partners.

As the tally of fatal police shootings rises, law enforcement watchdogs say it is time to treat deadly force as a potentially serious public safety problem.

“The numbers reflect that there could be an issue, and it’s going to take a deeper understanding of these shootings,” said Chris Gebhardt, a former police lieutenant and sergeant who served in Washington, D.C., and in Utah, including six years on SWAT teams and several training duties. “It definitely can’t be written off as citizen groups being upset with law enforcement.”

Through October, 45 people had been killed by law enforcement officers in Utah since 2010, accounting for 15 percent of all homicides during that period.

A Salt Lake Tribune review of nearly 300 homicides, using media reports, state crime statistics, medical-examiner records and court records, shows that use of force by police is the second-most common circumstance under which Utahns kill each other, surpassed only by intimate partner violence.

Saturday’s shooting, which occurred after an officer responded to a trespassing call, remains under investigation.

Nearly all of the fatal shootings by police have been deemed by county prosecutors to be justified. Only one — the 2012 shooting of Danielle Willard by West Valley City police — was deemed unjustified, and the subsequent criminal charge was thrown out last month by a judge.

The report also looks into police training, and finds that while academy cadets in Utah do get some instruction on deescalation and conflict resolution, in much of the state, that’s all they get. The ongoing training for the rest of their careers is more one sided — lots of education pertaining to using force, but little to no guidance on how to avoid the use of force. The good news is that there is an interesting and so far somewhat successful police reform movement currently underway in Utah.

Read the whole thing.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 November 2014 at 2:51 pm

43 Sexual Harassment Cases That Were Thrown Out Because Of One Supreme Court Decision

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The Supreme Court increasingly seems like a partisan political body less interested in protecting citizens’ rights than in protecting corporations and the wealthy. Bryce Covert writes at ThinkProgress:

In March of 2011, Samantha Stabenchek, a 17-year-old at the time, was cornered by her Safeway colleague Jose Lopez at their store. He grabbed her buttocks and kissed her. Stabenchek had endured months of sexual harassment at the hands of Lopez, who made inappropriate comments and sent her explicit text messages. After an internal investigation, the Scottsdale, Arizona store fired him.

Less than a month later, Stabenchek’s mother Mary McCormack, who also worked at Safeway and reported the assault on behalf of her daughter, was accused of violating a store policy on coupons, and the two resigned, feeling that it was connected to the complaint.

They filed a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit against Safeway in 2012. The details of the harassment Stabenchek experienced were never up for debate. Instead, the case hinged on whether Lopez counted as her supervisor. When a supervisor harasses someone who works under him, a company like Safeway has a heightened level of responsibility and can be held vicariously liable. If, on the other hand, Lopez was deemed to merely be her coworker, the employer is only held liable if it was negligent in overseeing working conditions and addressing harassment once it became aware of the situation, a standard that’s become very hard for victims to meet and therefore get recompense from their employers.

Stabenchek and McCormack argue that Lopez was, for all intents and purposes, her supervisor. When Stabenchek started the job, he was a front-end manager who was often in charge of the store and controlled when she could take breaks and clock out of work.

“Things like schedules are significant changes for workers,” Liz Watson, senior counsel and director of workplace justice for women at the National Women’s Law Center, told ThinkProgress, “because they have everything to do with how much money someone earns.” He also sat in on one of her initial job interviews and directed her to sign binding documents for the company.

Before June of 2013, a court may have very well found that Lopez was her supervisor. But that’s not how her case went. Thanks to a Supreme Court decision in the Vance v. Ball State University case, the judge presiding over Mary McCormack, et al v. Safeway Stores Incorporated decided that Lopez wasn’t her supervisor. The Vance decision significantly narrowed the definition of supervisor when it comes to harassment cases, limiting it to someone who has the power to hire, fire, promote, or otherwise tangibly impact a report’s employment.

Advocates for the victims of sexual harassment feared that the Vance decision would make it more difficult to get justice. Their fears have played out. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 November 2014 at 2:33 pm

Comparing GOP priorities with the priority of the people of the US

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The NBC/WSJ poll found that the American public had these priorities for the new Congress (in order):

  1.   Access to lower cost student loans–80% support.
  2.   Increase spending on infrastructure–75%
  3.   Raising the minimum wage–65%
  4.   Emergency funding for fighting Ebola in Africa–60%
  5.   Addressing climate change/reducing carbon emissions–59%
  6.   Building Keystone Pipeline–54%

The GOP, which will control both houses of Congress, has listed its own priorities:

  1.   Authorize Keystone Pipeline.
  2.   Repeal ACA (“Obamacare”)
  3.   Pass the “Hire More Heroes” (veterans) Act.
  4.   Pass Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement with Asia.
  5.   Lower corporate taxes.
  6.   Thwarting Obama on Immigration Executive Action.
  7.   Reign in the EPA and roll back environmental regulations.

Elections have consequences, and not voting is a dumb choice.

More information in this Daily Kos post.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 November 2014 at 4:18 pm

ProPublica‘s Muck Reads

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Here they are. A couple of examples from the link:

“Penn State was no surprise. Abuse like this has been going on forever.” Outside magazine examines the legacy of sexual abuse in competitive U.S. swimming. The problem is so pervasive that in 2010, USA Swimming took the unusual step of creating a public list of coaches and officials banned for code of conduct violations, including sexual advances or contact with athletes. The list includes 106 members, 73 of whom were banned for sexual misconduct — punishment experts say is the exception in “the only country without a national government agency for these children.” — Outside via @amzam

That wasn’t a piece of meat with eyes, that was a human being.” It was 24-year-old Dennis Munson Jr.’s first kickboxing fight. The first round went OK. The third round didn’t. Within five hours, he was dead. A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigation found that kickboxing – unlike mixed martial arts – isn’t regulated by the state. This leaves promoters to oversee their own matches. A “cascade of errors” identified by the Sentinel and fight experts during the course of Munson’s fight, as well as dangerous weight cutting in lead up – all areas that are regulated in some other states – may have cost him his life. — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via @john_diedrich

Written by LeisureGuy

22 November 2014 at 12:18 pm

Posted in Daily life

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