You are browsing the archive for 2015 March 03.

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Sen. Rand Paul Cosponsors Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015

March 3, 2015 in Politics & Elections

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. Rand Paul today signed on as a cosponsor to The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, introduced last week by Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.). This bipartisan legislation would mandate that the Obama Administration submit the text of any agreement to Congress, in addition to prohibiting the President from suspending Congressional sanctions for a period of 60 days. Click HERE for the full text of The Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015. ‘As I have said all along, I believe it is in everyone’s best interest to find a peaceful way to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Contingent fully upon the approval from Congress, any deal reached must be strong, verifiable, and ultimately, have real consequences if Iran does not comply. This act will give the administration an incentive to negotiate from a position of strength,’ Sen. Paul said. …read more

Source: RAND PAUL

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What Rift? 5 Times Netanyahu's Speech Showed America's Well on Board With His Dangerous Plans

March 3, 2015 in Blogs

By Michael Arria, AlterNet

Rhetoric aside, Israel and the US still want the same things.

For the past couple weeks, the American media has focused on the fact that various members of congress planned on skipping Netanyahu’s speech. Predictably, this was perceived by many on the right as the latest example of Obama, and other prominent Democrats, failing to support Israel sufficiently. This is, of course, a massive red herring and a distraction from very real and dangerous issues; mainly, Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territory and its unyielding push for war against Iran. Netanyahu’s speech was strikingly bellicose, even by his standards, as he compared the leadership of Iran to the Nazis and ISIS. Much will be made about the farcical comparisons, but he also said a number of ridiculous things that President Obama, and others who skipped the speech, agree with him on. Netanyahu’s speech was an attack on the administration’s foreign policy, but it was facilitated by years of support from the Obama administration. After getting a green light for nearly all of his actions, why wouldn’t Israel’s Prime Minister logically ask for more? Here’s five moments from the speech that highlighted how the Israel/United States “rift” is overrated.

  1. Netanyahu Praised Obama’s Support For His Recent Operation in Gaza: Senator Diane Feinstein stood up to clap for this one. It was a reference to Israel’s 2014’s seven-week bombardment of Gaza, that resulted in over 2,000 deaths. At least 30% of those deaths were children. Obama urged restraint, but continually reiterated Israel’s right to defend itself. Susan Rice, Obama’s national security advisor, declared, “Here is one thing you never have to worry about: America's support for the state of Israel. Hamas initiated this conflict. And Hamas has dragged it on.”

  2. Netanyahu Declared He Wants Sanctions “Until Iran Stops Aggression On Its Neighbors”: He’s referring to the Obama administration’s sanctions on Iran, which could possibly be increasing corruption and repression in the region. There’s no doubt that these actions have alienated the Iranian people, as they’ve paid a vast human cost. Reports have documented how the sanctions have created <a target=_blank …read more

    Source: ALTERNET

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Protect Taxpayers from Illegal Taxes

March 3, 2015 in Economics

By Michael F. Cannon

Michael F. Cannon

Another year, another Obamacare case goes before the Supreme Court. But this time, everything is upside down.

In King v. Burwell, the plaintiffs aren’t challenging the Affordable Care Act; they want to uphold the act – and thereby protect tens of millions of taxpayers from illegal taxes. The law’s supporters, instead of defending the law or taxpayers, are defending an out-of-control IRS.

The IRS is subjecting more than 8 million taxpayers to penalties under Obamacare’s individual mandate, and more than 250,000 employers and 57 million taxpayers to penalties under the law’s employer mandate, even though it has no authority to do so. The IRS just decided to expand its own powers.

One lower court declared the IRS’s actions “invalid” and explained that by blocking those actions, “the court is upholding the Act as written.” Another wrote that the Affordable Care Act itself “unambiguously forecloses” the IRS’s expansion of the mandates.

Does anybody really want to live in a world where the IRS has the power to impose taxes all on its own?”

The employer mandate imposes hefty penalties on employers who do not provide the required level of coverage to all employees who work 30 or more hours per week. It therefore creates a perverse incentive for employers to cut workers’ hours to below that threshold.

Teachers are just some of the millions who are losing income as a result of these illegal taxes. Because the IRS illegally subjected Indiana public school districts to the mandate, for example, they had to cut hours for substitute teachers, instructional aides, special education instructors, library assistants, cafeteria workers, bus drivers and maintenance personnel. Many school districts have barred part-time staff from coaching sports and other extracurricular activities.

A career center in Putnam County, Indiana, cannot expand its staff and course offerings, because it would then either have to pay penalties it cannot afford or cut hours for all its employees. Many school districts are suffering further because the cost of their health benefits has increased, reducing their ability to hire new staff.

In Indiana alone, the IRS is unlawfully imposing the individual mandate on more than 196,000 taxpayers, and unlawfully imposing the employer mandate on nearly 9,000 employers and more than 1.9 million workers.

These are real people, suffering real income losses with every passing day. The income they are losing is effectively a tax. Since the IRS has no legal authority to subject them to …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Sen. Rand Paul Stands with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu

March 3, 2015 in Politics & Elections

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. Rand Paul today issued the following statement in response to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Joint Meeting of Congress: ‘Israel is and has always been America’s friend and ally. I was pleased to hear Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to Congress today, and join him in calling for peace and standing together for our mutual interests. It is important to work together to prevent a nuclear Iran, and the spread of Radical Islam,’ said Sen. Paul. …read more

Source: RAND PAUL

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Here’s How to Find Out If Your Penis Is a Normal Size, According to Science

March 3, 2015 in Blogs

By Agence France-Presse, AFP

Scientific research has come up with an average length for guys.

What is an “average” size for a penis?

The enduring question now has a scientific answer: 13.12 centimetres (5.16 inches) in length when erect, and 11.66 cm around, according to an analysis of more than 15,000 appendages around the world.

In a flaccid state, it found, the penis of the average Joe is all of 9.16 cm in length and has a girth of 9.31 cm.

The numbers should help “reassure the large majority of men that the size of their penis is in the normal range,” said British researchers who had assembled data from studies where participants had their member measured by a professional.

The team then used the collated numbers to devise a graph that doctors can use in counselling men with “small penis anxiety”.

In the worst cases, men may be diagnosed with Body Dysmorphic Disorder — a debilitating psychological condition that can lead to obsessive and anti-social behaviour, depression and even suicide.

In reality, only 2.28 percent of the male population have an abnormally small penis, said the study — and the same percentage an unusually large one.

The study participants were men aged 17-91 who had their penises measured in 20 previously published studies conducted in Europe, Asia, Africa and the United States.

The team found no evidence for penis size differences linked to race, though most of the study participants were of European and Middle Eastern descent and a full comparison could thus not be made.

Nor did the researchers find any convincing correlation between a man’s foot size and the length of his manhood.

They acknowledged their results may have been somewhat skewed by the possibility that men who volunteer to be examined may be more confident in their penis size than the general population.

The team said their work, published in the BJU International journal of urology, was the first to combine all existing data on penis length and girth into a definitive graph.

The information may be useful for reassuring men worried about their size. But it may also have the unintended effect of shrivelling …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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The Mumbo-Jumbo of 'Middle-Class Economics'

March 3, 2015 in Economics

By Alan Reynolds

Alan Reynolds

In the “Economic Report of the President” released on Feb. 19, the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers defines “middle class economics” primarily by the average income of the bottom 90%. “Average income for the bottom 90 percent of households,” according to the ERP, “functions as a decent proxy for the median household’s income growth.”

This is absurd: The average income for the bottom 90% is not a decent proxy for the median nor even a decent measure of household income. It is instead a roughly fabricated estimate of pretax “market income” reported on tax returns that falls below some threshold for the top 10% ($114,290 in 2013). But this dodgy number does serve as the basis for CEA Chairman Jason Furman ’s assertion a day later on the Vox blog that the U.S. has suffered a “40-year stagnation in incomes for the middle class and those working to get into the middle class.”

The measure has become popular on the left. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) recently asked an AFL-CIO conference, “Since 1980, guess how much of the growth in income the [bottom] 90% got? Nothing. None. Zero.” NPR displayed the same bottom 90% data and stretched it even further, claiming that “after 1980, only the top 1% saw their incomes rise.”

The statistics used to claim that average incomes have stagnated since 1980 also show stagnation since 1968.”

The source cited in the ERP for the claims about stagnating average incomes is the World Top Incomes Database. The U.S. data come from economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, the same source cited by Sen. Warren and NPR.

Amazingly, these same statistics also show there has been no increase for the “bottom” 90% since 1968. Measured in 2013 dollars, average income of the bottom 90% was supposedly $32,730 in 1968, $32,887 in 1980, $35,326 in 2007 and $32,341 in 2013.

This is totally inconsistent with the data the Bureau of Economic Analysis uses to calculate GDP. For example, real personal consumption per person has tripled since 1968 and doubled since 1980, according to the BEA. Are all those shopping malls, big box stores, car dealers and restaurants catering to only the top 10%? The question answers itself.

Instead of the White House concoction, consider the Congressional Budget Office estimates of actual median household income. Measured in 2013 dollars, after-tax median income rose briskly from $46,998 in 1983 to $70,393 in 2008 …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Taser International and Cops Profiting from Police Brutality

March 3, 2015 in Blogs

By Michael Arria, AlterNet

Taser has seen its stock price double since Michael Brown was killed.

Taser International, one of the nation's largest suppliers of body cameras, has direct connections to some police chiefs who have been advocating on its behalf.

According to an AP report, the company is covering travel costs for cops that praise their products at international conferences. It's also hiring retired chiefs as consultants, after their cities sign contracts with Taser. After the police chief in Fort Worth, Texas obtained a contract with the company, he wrote one of their representatives an email, insisting that he deserved a raise. In Salt Lake City, the police department bypassed City Council approval to secure a contract with Taser and, in Albuquerque, Taser's connection to the police chief sparked an investigation by the city’s inspector general.

After the death of Michael Brown, body cameras became a staple of calls for police reform. President Obama proposed a $75 million effort to equip departments with the cameras, in an attempt to quell distrust of police. The move was supported by a number of liberals, but it was also adamantly supported by Taser International. According to aNation story by Raven Rakia, Taser has seen its stock price double since Michael Brown was killed. The company viewed Brown's murder as, ” massive awareness campaign’ for police body cameras.”

According to a 3-month Fusion investigation, body cameras can often benefit the police more than victims. It's clear that, sometimes, this benefit is also financial. 

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Jon Stewart Mocks John Boehner's Terrifying Kissy Face

March 3, 2015 in Blogs

By AlterNet

In response to a press question, Boehner puckers up his lips and … watch below.

With Republicans in control of the House of Representatives and the Senate, the reign of Boehner and McConnell is upon us. Or, as Jon Stewart said last night, the unstoppable duo “turtle and carrot.” One of the GOP's first hits: blocking funding for the Department of Homeland Security in a fit over immigration policy. It's an odd move, Stewart notes, given how practically every prominent Republican has spent the past few years telling Americans we're all going to die because our borders are insecure. 

Clearly, no one can work with a Republican House — not even Republicans, Stewart concludes. But no amount of GOP obstructionism and poor governance can prepare us for the horror of … John Boehner's kissy face. In response to a press question, Boehner puckers up his lips and … watch below: 

 

 

…read more

Source: ALTERNET