You are browsing the archive for 2015 June 03.

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Congress Passes Three Amendments to Stop DEA from Undermining State Marijuana Laws

June 3, 2015 in PERSONAL LIBERTY

By mfarrington

Important Victories Build on Last Night’s Votes to End DEA's Controversial Bulk Data Collection Program, Cut DEA's Budget

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Legislators passed three amendments today to prohibit the DEA and U.S. Department of Justice from undermining state marijuana laws, as part of the U.S. House of Representatives' consideration of the Fiscal Year 2016 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill. A fourth amendment failed. The House also passed an amendment last night ending the DEA’s controversial bulk data collection program.

June 3, 2015

Drug Policy Alliance

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Source: DRUG POLICY

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How Simple Changes to Tariffs Could Help U.S. Manufacturers

June 3, 2015 in Economics

By Daniel J. Ikenson

Daniel J. Ikenson

The myth of decline dominates the narrative about U.S. manufacturing. Yet, the preponderance of evidence indicates that U.S. manufacturing, relative to the past and relative to other countries’ manufacturing sectors, excels by the metrics that speak to its current and future prospects. But it could be doing even better if Congress made some simple changes to the outdated U.S. tariff system.

According to WTO and OECD figures, intermediate goods trade may account for as much as 75% of all global trade. The proliferation of cross-border investment and transnational supply chains has blurred the distinctions between U.S. and foreign products and has rendered tariffs on imported inputs incompatible with the imperative of wooing, securing and maintaining productive, capital investment in the U.S. To compete more effectively at home and abroad, manufacturers in the U.S. need access to imported inputs at world market prices. Last year, about 55% of U.S. imports were intermediate goods and capital equipment, the purchases of U.S. producers.

Yet, under U.S. tariff policy, many imported inputs remain subject to import taxes. Duties on products such as magnesium, sugar, polyvinyl chloride and hot rolled steel may please domestic producers, who are freed to raise prices and reap larger profits. But they are costly to U.S. producers of auto parts, food products, paint, and appliances, who consume those products as inputs in their own manufacturing processes. These taxes chase manufactures to foreign shores, where those crucial ingredients are less expensive, and they deter others from setting up manufacturing operations stateside.

What has been a deterrent to investment and production could be turned into a magnet for investment and production.”

During the financial crisis and subsequent recession, as G-20 governments were pledging not to resort to beggar-thy-neighbor protectionism, the Canadian and Mexican governments went even further and slashed duties on imported intermediate goods. Each government properly recognized import duties as business costs and, since business revenues were projected to plunge on account of the global economic contraction, acted to limit the adverse impact on their businesses by reducing their costs through trade policy. That logic is universal, and does not only apply in times of economic recession.

Not only does current U.S. tariff policy elevate the interests of certain producers over others, but it tends to favor the lower-value-added, basic-materials producers to the higher-value-added, intellectual property-, capital-, and export-intensive industries, which usually contribute more to GDP and create higher-skilled …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Bernie Sanders' Bold Debate Proposal: 'I'll Debate GOP Candidates Before the Primary'

June 3, 2015 in Blogs

By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet

An intriguing idea. But will there be any takers?

Bernie Sanders would like to shake up the 2016 presidential campaign by having debates with Republicans before either party select their nominee, he told MSNBC Tuesday.

“I will tell you why… the Republicans get away with murder,” he replied to host Rachel Maddow, when asked about debating Republicans.

“They have an absolutely reactionary agenda,” he said. “They may vary a little bit from this candidate to the other, but basically what these guys are about is huge tax breaks for billionaires, massive cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, education, nutrition, environmental programs. And clearly, some of the Republican candidates, like Jeb Bush and Chris Christie, have talked about—they want to cut Social Security.”

“Now they get away with that stuff because a lot of people don’t know what they are talking about,” Sanders continued, making the case for debates. “If we can confront them and debate issues, rather than allow the media to get into political gossip and polling and fundraising, but talk about the issues, I think their agenda does not reflect more than 15 or 20 percent of the American people.”

Sanders call for Democrats debating Republican candidates before the General Election is a refreshing idea—and one that has not been seen in decades of presidential campaigns. Whether or not that will actually happen is a bit more complicated. Usually, frontrunners in any party try to ignore other candidates who challenge them to debates, because they don’t want to undermine their leads.

But what makes the 2016 presidential campaign a bit different is that there are so many Republicans running that some of the middle-tier candidates might see it as a plus to try to take on Sanders. On the other hand, it’s not clear that Sanders would want to debate back-benchers like Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal or ex-Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. He gets to debate Sens. Ted Cruz, R-TX, and Rand Paul, R-KY, in the U.S. Senate.    

Alison Moore, the Republican National Committee’s press secretary, did not return a request for a comment.

 

 

 

 

<Img align="left" border="0" …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Gun Nut Just Strolls Through Atlanta Airport with His Rifle Because He Can

June 3, 2015 in Blogs

By Terrell Jermaine Starr, AlterNet

His fellow passengers were terrified, but he was just exercising his rights.

You’d never assume that a citizen could walk into a major international airport with a loaded rifle, but that is exactly what Jim Cooley did last Thursday, The New York Daily News reports.

The 50-year-old man entered Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport to drop off his wife and daughter. Around his neck was an AR-15 rifle. While many passengers were terrified at the gun-carrying man walking freely around the airport, Cooley had no concerns about scaring people because, according to Georgia law, he is doing nothing wrong.

“People think that if you're simply carrying your firearm, regardless of how you're carrying it, you're a bad person,” he told the Daily News. “But if you're not carrying it in a menacing or threatening manner, it should be no cause for concern for anybody.”

Under Georgia law, licensed residents can carry guns in public places, including bars, schools, churches and certain areas in airports. As far as airports go, federal law doesn’t allow people to carry guns into security screening areas.

Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the second-busiest airport in the world, behind O’Hare International Airport in Chicago.

Cooley, who is originally from Chicago, recorded his interactions with airport officials and posted them to YouTube. In one video clip, a guard tells him that he is scaring passengers. He replied: “Well, people’s fear are not my responsibility.”

Last week was the second time Cooley entered the airport with his rifle. He says when he did it for the first time earlier in May, he got no reaction. The reaction from officials the second go-around annoyed him.

“Why should anyone come up to me and ask me why I'm doing something I have the right to do?” Cooley told the Daily News. “It's like asking you, 'Why are you breathing?'”

 

 

 

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Santorum's Clueless Pope Bashing Is Not Even Accurate

June 3, 2015 in Blogs

By Zaid Jilani, AlterNet

Santorum says the Pope should leave science to the scientists. The Pope has an advanced chemistry degree.

On Monday, presidential candidate Rick Santorum did an interview with a local talk radio host where the topic of Pope Francis came up.

Santorum, who is Catholic, said he was a “huge fan” of the Pope but that he disagreed with his viewpoint on climate change.

“The church has gotten it wrong a few times on science, and I think that we probably are better off leaving science to the scientists,” he said. “I think when we get involved with controversial political and scientific theories, then I think the church is probably not as forceful and credible. And I've said this to the bishops many times when they get involved in agriculture policy or things like that, that are really outside the scope of what the church's main message is.”

The thing that Santorum does not mention is that Pope Francis actually is a scientist. He has a Masters in Chemistry from the University of Buenos Aires. When Pope Francis campaigns against climate change as a “sin,” he is doing so not just with the authority of the Vatican but with a level of scientific expertise that is rare among religious figures.

Many believe that when he gives his speech to Congress in September, he will call on it to act on climate change, which it has so far refused to do.

 

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Source: ALTERNET

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School Lunch Room Manager Fired for Giving Out Food to Children Without Lunch Money

June 3, 2015 in Blogs

By Walter Einenkel, DailyKos

“I had a first grader in front of me, crying . . .”

Della Curry is now the former kitchen manager at Dakota Valley Elementary School in Aurora, Colorado. Last week she was fired for giving out school lunches to elementary school kids who did not have money.

“I had a first grader in front of me, crying, because she doesn’t have enough money for lunch. Yes, I gave her lunch,” Curry said.

In the district, students who fail to qualify for the free lunch or reduced lunch program receive one slice of cheese on a hamburger bun, and a small milk.

Considering that over half of the children going to public schools in the United States these days are qualifying for school lunch aid because they are living at or below the poverty level, this must make people like Republican Jack Kingston furious. Children should work hard for their cheese sandwiches and not have some welfare-queen-lunchmarm giving them food for free. Those smiling faces ain't gonna pay for daddy's corporate tax break and it definitely won't build astate of the art children's prison. Compared to the rest of the nation, Cherry Creek schools are living high on the hog with only 29 percent of their students qualifying for free and/or reduced lunches.

Mrs. Curry, a mother of two, acknowledges that she broke the law and that the school district is just following the rules, as you can read below.

 

In the district, students who fail to qualify for the free lunch or reduced lunch program receive one slice of cheese on a hamburger bun, and a small milk.

Curry says that meal is not sufficient. Many times she paid for lunches out of her own pocket.

“I’ll own that I broke the law. The law needs to change,” she said.

As Paul Ryan can tell you, in a story he conjures up out of the dust that is his soul, kids that go hungry love wealthy men who are mean to them. Something like that, I don't remember the details exactly.

Here is the Cherry Creek School District's statement:

The law does not require …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Bill Clinton Is the Keynote Speaker for the Health Insurance Lobby Bash in Nashville

June 3, 2015 in Blogs

By Zaid Jilani, AlterNet

Clinton's cozy relationship with the group that killed the 'public option' seems ill-timed.

The Clintons made over $100 million from paid speeches to domestic and foreign corporations since the year 2000. Much of this money came from Wall Street banks, health care companies, and other corporations with interests before the government – raising concerns about influence-buying.

After Hillary Clinton formally announced her own presidential run, Bill Clinton was asked whether he would continue to do paid speeches to groups that have interests before the government. He replied that he would, because “I gotta pay our bills.”

This week, the nature of paying the Clintons' bills will take the form of keynoting the Nashville conference of the America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the chief lobbying group for the health insurance industry.

Clinton will serve as the keynote speaker on Friday, in a session AHIP's schedule strictly rules that “no press” is allowed – meaning that we will have no idea what Bill Clinton plans to say to the insurers' lobby.

Interestingly, while Clinton is the main event, former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney will speak at the conference the day before. His speech is titled: “Shaping America's Future: Major Trends, New Ideas, and Big Decisions.”

This isn't actually the first time Clinton spoke to AHIP. In June of 2010, just months after the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, the former president took $175,000 from the group for a speech at one of their events.

Recall that AHIP played the primary role in killing the public health insurance option and trying to sink the Affordable Care Act altogether. It was estimated to have funneled around $100 million into the Chamber of Commerce's scorched earth campaign to defeat the legislation.

Today, AHIP continues to advocate for deregulation of the health care market and to fight any move towards a more comprehensive and efficient system, such as an expansion of Medicare. By any measure, it stands completely opposed to the progressive health care agenda, which raises questions about why …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Rating the GOP Contenders on Taxes

June 3, 2015 in Economics

By Michael D. Tanner

Michael D. Tanner

“God,” the late columnist Robert Novak used to say, “put the Republican party on earth to cut taxes.”

If so, there is unlikely to be any theological crisis for Republicans anytime soon. All the GOP’s major 2016 candidates are expected to propose some reduction in taxes. But with tax cuts, perhaps even more than with other issues, the devil is in the details. What taxes do they proposed to cut and by how much? Are the cuts designed to increase economic growth? Are they accompanied by spending cuts, or will they increase the deficit? (No, not all tax cuts pay for themselves).

As with other issues, it is very early in the campaign, so we shouldn’t necessarily expect fully detailed plans yet. But we have more than enough clues to be able to discern the general outline of the candidates’ priorities.

As is the case with most issues, the two most detailed plans released so far belong to Senators Marco Rubio and Rand Paul. Rubio is the co-sponsor, with Senator Mike Lee, of the Economic Growth and Family Fairness Tax Reform Plan, which would reduce taxes by roughly $4 trillion over the next decade (on a static basis; dynamic scoring suggests the revenue loss would be somewhat less). The plan would reduce the number of tax brackets to just two, 15 and 35 percent, while eliminating nearly all itemized deductions and replacing the current standard deduction with a fully refundable personal credit, plus a new $2,500-per-child exemption. On the business side, the bill would reduce the corporate tax rate to 25 percent, again while eliminating most current deductions. It would, however, allow full deductibility for investments in the year in which they are expensed. It would also adopt a territorial tax system, exempting foreign income of U.S. corporations. The plan has been criticized by some supply-side and business-oriented economists for leaving marginal tax rates too high, and not being sufficiently growth-oriented. Rubio and others, notably reformicons, see it as a family-friendly and middle-class-oriented tax cut.

Rand Paul posted a detailed plan on his campaign website a couple of months ago, but he has since taken it down amid reports that he is revising it to lower rates even further. As originally posted, Paul’s plan would establish a 17 percent flat tax; however, he is reportedly working with Stephen Moore of the Heritage Foundation and others to bring that rate down to as low as 13 or 14 …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Time to Privatize the TSA

June 3, 2015 in Economics

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has another failure on its hands. In recent tests, undercover investigators smuggled mock explosives and banned weapons through U.S. airport checkpoints 96 percent of the time. The solution, says Cato scholar Chris Edwards, is to dismantle TSA and move responsibility for screening operations to the nation’s airports. “Over a decade of experience has shown that the nationalization of airport screening under the Bush administration was a mistake. Let’s learn from reforms abroad, and bring in the private sector to boost the quality of our aviation security system.”

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Source: CATO HEADLINES