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Archive for May 16th, 2014

Swiss May Raise Minimum Wage to $25/Hour

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 16th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Swiss May Raise Minimum Wage to $25/Hour
Switzerland voters are going to the polls Sunday to vote on a referendum setting the minimum wage at 22 Swiss francs — or $25 per hour — which would be the highest minimum wage in the world. If approved, nearly 10 percent of the workforce would see their paychecks rise, with the majority of these working in retail and other low-level services jobs and agriculture. Switzerland is the most expensive country in the world to live in, according to the World Bank. In 2011, consumer goods were 62 percent higher there than the European Union average.

Sudan Sentences Christian to Death for ‘Apostasy’
A pregnant Sudanese woman who married a Christian man was sentenced to death Thursday after she refused to recant her Christian faith, her lawyer said. Meriam Ibrahim, whose father was Muslim but mother was an Orthodox Christian from Ethiopia, was convicted of “apostasy” on Sunday and given four days to repent and escape death, said lawyer Al-Shareef Ali al-Shareef Mohammed. Amnesty International immediately condemned the sentence, calling it “abhorrent.” Sudan’s penal code criminalizes the conversion of Muslims into other religions, which is punishable by death. Ibrahim said in court, “I was never a Muslim. I was raised a Christian from the start.”


Obama taps senior aide to oversee policy execution

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 16th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Obama taps senior aide to oversee policy execution
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama appointed a new White House adviser Friday and charged her with overseeing the execution of major policies like health care, underscoring the growing concern in the West Wing about political problems that have arisen because of poor follow-through.

Arkansas high court suspends gay marriage ruling
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas’ highest court has suspended a judge’s ruling striking down the state’s same-sex marriage ban, halting the distribution of licenses that have been issued to hundreds of gay couples.


Michelle Obama warns of resurgent school segregation

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 16th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Michelle Obama warns of resurgent school segregation
Marking the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, first lady urges high school seniors to continue fighting for diversity and inclusion

Chuck Hagel: U.S. doing “everything possible” to find Nigerian girls
It’s still too early to plan a mission to rescue the kidnapped girls, however, the defense secretary said


National Review’s Misguided Attempt To Cast Obama’s Policies As “Anti-Black”

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 16th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

National Review’s Misguided Attempt To Cast Obama’s Policies As “Anti-Black”

NRO editor and Fox News contributor Deroy Murdock criticized President Obama for advocating policies that allegedly hurt African-Americans ignoring that the African-American unemployment rate is at a five-year low. 

In May, the black unemployment rate fell to 11.6 percent, down from 12.7 percent since President Obama took office and at its lowest lowest point in five years.

Instead of highlighting the achievement, Murdock criticized Obama in a May 16 post for the National Review Online, going so far as to ask whether Obama’s policies are “anti-black”:

 


A Conservative’s Case for Moderation

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 16th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

A Conservative’s Case for Moderation
Peter Berkowitz, RealClearPolitics
Recently William Kristol, a pillar of Washington’s Republican establishment, issued a call to arms, admonishing conservatives to abandon their “calm, cool, and collected affect” and to passionately reject Democratic Party leadership. Kristol was speaking for many in the conservative movement. Driven by the fear that every political compromise brings the country one step closer to the defeat of the idea of limited constitutional government at home and the ruinous erosion of America’s ability to defend itself abroad, conservatives have taken to equating political…

The Revolt of the Wingers in British and American Politics
Michael Barone, RealClearPolitics
In recent times, British and American politics have often flowed in parallel currents. Margaret Thatcher’s election as prime minister in 1979 was followed by Ronald Reagan’s election as president in 1980. As Charles Moore notes in his biography of Thatcher, the two worked together, albeit with some friction, reversing the tide of statism at home and ending the Soviet empire abroad. They seemed to establish British Conservatives and American Republicans as their nation’s natural ruling parties. In time, Democrats and Labour responded. Bill Clinton’s “New Democrat” politics prevailed in 1992,…


Farage aide interrupts interview

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 16th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Farage aide interrupts interview
Nigel Farage’s spokesman interrupts a live interview after the UKIP leader is pressed about immigration and expenses.

VIDEO: So what is happening on Thursday?
Potential voters are asked about their knowledge of the local and European elections being held on Thursday.

Iraq inquiry delay ‘very serious’
Delays to the publication of the Iraq official inquiry have become “very serious”, the head of an influential Commons committee warns.


Top VA official resigns in wake of allegations

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 16th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Top VA official resigns in wake of allegations
The VA undersecretary stepped down a day after testifying before a Senate panel.


Russian Rocket Crashes After Takeoff

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 16th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Russian Rocket Crashes After Takeoff
A Russian Proton-M rocket carrying a communications satellite crashed in Kazakhstan after what appeared to have been an engine malfunction, an official said.



Jean-Luc Dehaene, Former Prime Minister of Belgium, Is Dead at 73
Mr. Dehaene, a member of the Flemish Christian Democratic Party, became prime minister in March 1992.

Public’s Outrage Over Mine Disaster Casts Harsh Light on Turkey’s Premier
The accident has metastasized from a local tragedy into a new political crisis for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has aggravated public outrage with highhanded remarks.



Nigerian Leader Cancels Visit to Village of Abducted Girls
Concerns for the president’s security prompted the decision, which came as West African leaders planned to meet in Paris to discuss the insurgency of the group that took the girls.




Senate Blocks $85 Billion Tax Cut Bill Because It Would Have Helped Wind Energy

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 16th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Senate Blocks $85 Billion Tax Cut Bill Because It Would Have Helped Wind Energy

The Wind Production Tax Credit is the latest casualty of what seems to be a week-long Senate war against legislation that would support clean energy and energy efficiency.

The post Senate Blocks $85 Billion Tax Cut Bill Because It Would Have Helped Wind Energy appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., center, speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., center, speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014.

CREDIT: AP

An $85 billion tax package that included reviving a key subsidy to the wind energy industry was struck down by the Senate on Thursday, after Majority Leader Harry Reid refused to let Republicans offer an amendment to kill the wind subsidy altogether.

Only one Republican, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), voted with Democrats to extend the tax package, which would have revived 50 tax subsidies for numerous industries after the Senate let them expire at the end of 2013. Among other things, Republicans had wanted to offer amendments to strike the Wind Production Tax Credit from the Senate package, a $13 billion tax break to the wind industry to help them compete with fossil fuels.

Reid, however, filed cloture on the bill Wednesday, using a procedural move that blocks the minority party’s ability to call up amendments. Republicans then blocked the entire bill from moving forward.

“We have a tax bill here that members from both sides want to improve and support. Yet we don’t get a chance to amend it,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) told The Hill.

“Republicans can’t take ‘yes’ for an answer — they just voted against the second bipartisan bill in less than a week,” Reid said. He suggested that Republicans might be hearing from “their friends down on K Street” about voting against tax cuts.

The Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind is a subsidy that’s been built into the tax code for years to encourage growth in the wind industry. Reinvigorated by the 2009 stimulus, it was initially scheduled to expire in 2012 unless Congress decided to renew it. At the very last minute, it was renewed for one more year, but ended up expiring on January 1, 2014 due to Congressional gridlock.

Part of that gridlock was driven by opposition from Republicans who oppose giving tax breaks to the wind industry on the grounds that it amounts to a form a “welfare” that unfairly props up an industry present in some states but not others.

Of course, the whole point of a tax break for wind energy producers is to increase incentives for investment in wind power, which proponents say would ultimately increase the amount of wind power in the United States to a point where it can compete with conventional sources and further help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. At the moment, it’s particularly hard for wind to compete with, say, the oil and gas industries, which benefit from a wealth of federal tax carve-outs, even though the economic activity they generate is concentrated in just a few key states.

In fact, onshore wind power in the United States was booming up through 2012 — that is, until Congressional Republicans threatened to let the PTC expire. Even though they eventually renewed it for 2013, the uncertainty for its future led to the boom stalling out, eventually flatlining in 2014 after the credit expired, as shown in this interactive map from the Department of Energy.

The Wind Production Tax Credit is the latest casualty of what seems to be a week-long Senate war against legislation that would support clean energy and energy efficiency. On Monday, a bipartisan energy efficiency bill failed after a majority of Senate Republicans refused to end a filibuster after days of discussion on the legislation.

That fight was also over amendments, as Republicans had wanted to attach amendments that would speed up natural gas exports and oppose EPA regulations on future power plants. Reid blocked those amendments, triggering Republicans to block the passage of the bill, known as Shaheen-Portman.

As The Hill notes, Thursday’s vote on tax extenders was not on the bill itself but on a substitute amendment to H.R. 3474, the legislative vehicle for the tax extender package. The amendment can be called up again later if needed, but for now, it’s not looking like it will be any time soon.

The post Senate Blocks $85 Billion Tax Cut Bill Because It Would Have Helped Wind Energy appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Obama Judicial Nominee Ran Anti-Gay Political Campaign Touting His ‘Conservative Christian Values’

“I support the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment. I oppose same sex marriages, I oppose homosexual Boy Scout leaders and I support voluntary prayer in schools.”

The post Obama Judicial Nominee Ran Anti-Gay Political Campaign Touting His ‘Conservative Christian Values’ appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Georgia confederate flag

CREDIT: Shutterstock

Judge Michael Boggs, who President Obama nominated for a lifetime appointment to a federal judgeship in Georgia due to pressure from the state’s Republican senators and an idiosyncratic Senate Judiciary Committee practice, endured a brutal confirmation hearing on Tuesday. Democratic Senators peppered Boggs with questions about his past support for keeping the Confederate battle emblem as part of Georgia’s state flag, his past opposition to marriage equality, and anti-abortion votes he cast as a state lawmaker. One of Boggs’ primary defenses was that he cast these votes because they aligned with the views of his constituents.

In 2000, however, when Boggs was a candidate for the state legislature, he sang a different tune. In a campaign flyer first posted by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Boggs did not promise his constituents that he would cast conservative votes simply because he felt a duty to merely act as a conduit for his district’s conservative views. Rather, Boggs presented himself as a passionate, anti-gay conservative rooted in “quality conservative Christian values.” Though Boggs ran as a Democrat, he implied that the primary advantage of his remaining a member of this party was that it would enable him to receive plum committee assignments — not that he actually agreed with the Democratic Party’s more liberal views:

boggs-campaign-flier

The fate of Boggs’ nomination likely rests with the ten Senate Democrats on the Judiciary Committee.

The post Obama Judicial Nominee Ran Anti-Gay Political Campaign Touting His ‘Conservative Christian Values’ appeared first on ThinkProgress.


Why You Should Worry About the Election of Narendra Modi in India

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 16th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Why You Should Worry About the Election of Narendra Modi in India
From: Bob Dreyfuss

The BJP and its sister group, the paramilitary RSS, could accelerate sectarian divisions and, perhaps, worsen the conflict with Pakistan.

Inquiry Into Bridgegate Provides Clues That Christie Knew About the Lane Closures
From: The Christie Watch

Christie’s former top political aide and the governor’s spokesman dispute each other’s recollections.

BagNews Compiles Shocking Visual Evidence of Cecily McMillan Injustice
From: Greg Mitchell

Go there now to see the visual evidence in four separate “chapters.”

Easy and Instant Voting: A Great Idea Whose Time Has Come, Again
From: John Nichols

Why a forty-year-old plan for universal same-day registration makes more sense now than when reformers promoted it in the 1970s.