Monday, December 6, 2010

Obama and GOP Reach Agreement on Tax Rates

Now all the Dems need to do is roll over and go along with this and every American that pays income taxes will be spared a tax increase on January 1:
President Obama and congressional Republicans have reached a tentative deal to extend the Bush tax cuts for all income levels and are presenting the proposal to congressional Democrats Monday afternoon, The Daily Caller has learned.

The deal will extend the current tax levels for two more years, preventing taxes from going up on any income levels, despite the wishes of many liberal Democrats — including Obama — that individuals making more than $200,000 a year and families with more than $250,000 a year in income see their rates go up.

In exchange, Republicans have agreed to extend unemployment insurance benefits for an additional 13 months.

Obama presented the proposal to Democratic congressional leaders at the White House Monday afternoon, seeking to obtain their approval for the deal.

A House Democratic leadership source cautioned that the full party caucus will need to give their approval to any deal, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, will likely present to them at a Tuesday evening meeting.

Other details include a temporary two percent reduction in payroll taxes to replace Obama’s “Making Work Pay” tax credit from the 2009 stimulus bill, and a compromise on the estate tax, which will be set for two years at 35 percent, with a $5 million exemption amount.
Of course, if you're rich you still should plan to die before the end of the month to spare your heirs a huge estate tax bill. The only fair estate tax rate is zero, but Democrats will never go for that.

Paper Profiles FBI's Use of Informant To Infiltrate California Mosque

Yesterday's Washington Post carried a long article on the FBI's use of a convicted forger, Craig Monteilh, as an undercover informant who infiltrated an Islamic Center in Irvine, California to look for potential terrorists.  His tactics, however, backfired as Muslims at the mosque, concerned about his talk of violent jihad, obtained a restraining order against him. The case Monteilh built against one mosque member has collapsed and been dismissed by prosecutors. Meanwhile Monteilh has gone public to reveal how his FBI handlers trained him. The FBI and Justice Department say Monteilh's case is not representative of their generally good relations with the Muslim community. [Thanks to H. Kashk for the lead.]

NFL, 'Monday Night Football' Legend 'Dandy Don' Meredith Dies

Submitted by Matt Murai on December 6, 2010
Don Meredith, Monday Night Football, Howard Cossell, Frank Gifford, pictures, picture, photos, photo, pics, pic, images, image, hot, sexy, latest, new, 2010SANTA FE, N.M. — NFL legend Don Meredith, who starred for the Dallas Cowboys before becoming a fan favorite on ABC's Monday Night Football broadcasts, has died. He was 72.

Meredith passed away Sunday in Santa Fe, N.M. after suffering a brain hemorrhage, his wife told the Associated Press.

"He was the best there was," she said. "We lost a good one."

Meredith, who was was affectionately known as "Dandy Don," played nine seasons for the Dallas Cowboys in the 1960s. He became the team's starting quarterback in 1965, leading the Cowboys to the NFL championship games in 1966 and 1967, where they lost both times to the Green Bay Packers. He unexpectedly left the game in 1969.

Two years after he retired, Meredith became one of the first athletes to transition into broadcasting when he joined Keith Jackson and Howard Cosell as part of the original Monday Night Football team. His Southern charm won over viewers and he became famous for his signature call, in which he sang the Willie Nelson line "Turn out the lights, the party's over" when a team's lead seemed insurmountable.

Meredith, who played college ball at SMU, served two stints on Monday Night Football, from 1970-73 and 1977-84.
Photo credit: ABC

The New Solis State

By Rick Manning

15.1 million Americans unemployed.
The entire state of Ohio has a population under 12 million people. The commonwealth of Pennsylvania is at around 12.5 million people. Illinois is around 13 million. In fact, every state except California, Florida, New York and Texas, has a population lower than the 15.1 million who are unemployed going into the Christmas season.

If the 15.1 million were a state, they would have 21 members of Congress, with 23 votes in the Electoral College in 2012.

When these 15.1 million are combined with those who are underemployed the total number of people who either don’t have work or are working at jobs well below their expertise and training reaches 26.1 million Americans — more than the population of any state except California.

Yet, to hear US Department of Labor spokesperson Carl Fillichio tell it, they are doing “great work.”
Get full story here.

ALG’s Todd on Solicitor of Labor Strategy to “Shame” Employers that Don’t Unionize

Video by Frank McCaffrey
Get permalink here.

The Fed’s Foreign Bailout

By Robert Romano

We can’t say we weren’t warned.
On October 1st, 2008, Senator Jim DeMint hypothesized that one of the principal causes of the federal government’s plan to purchase toxic mortgage-backed securities as part of the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) was to bail out foreign entities.

On “The Mark Levin Show,” he said, “I think China and Saudi Arabia are holding a lot of these securitized mortgages. And I think they’ve basically said they’re not going to loan us any more money until we buy them back. And if they don’t give us loans every day, we default on our loans [because] we have so much debt as a nation. So, we’re going to borrow more money to try to make this situation right. There’s nothing else for me, Mark, that explains the urgency in using a sledgehammer to fix something that most of us know a few screwdrivers could fix.”

He may have been right, after all. Although, since TARP was instantly transformed into a bank recapitalization fund by then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, it was invariably the Federal Reserve that stepped in to buy the troubled assets — some $1.25 trillion worth.

All of the securities the Fed purchased were those underwritten by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ginnie Mae (Federal Housing Administration) — the government entities that helped cause the housing bubble with their loose underwriting standards and “affordable housing goals”.

Get full story here.

Man Once Charged With Trying to Kill Boston Celtic Star Convicted of Trying to Murder DEA Informant

By Allan Lengel
A man once charged with the attempted murder of Boston Celtics basketball star Paul Pierce, was convicted late last week of attempting to kill a DEA informant who provided evidence against him in cocaine trafficking case, authorities said.

Trevor A. Watson, 44, of Boston, was found guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court in Boston of stabbing the informant 10 times outside of Ann’s Unisex Barbershop on Tremont Street on the south end of Boston on Feb. 27, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Evidence in court showed Watson stabbed the informant, who survived the attack after emergency surgery to repair his damaged colon and intestine.

Authorities said while stabbing the informant, Watson said: “You talking, huh? you telling.”
Paul Pierce/espn

During trial, evidence surfaced that WATSON was charged with the attempted murder of Boston Celtic Paul Pierce in 2002. However, the jury acquitted him after multiple eyewitnesses changed their testimony, authorities said.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Watson tried to get witnesses in the DEA case, including the informant, to change their statement to authorities.

He wrote letters and made phone calls from prison in which he wrote: “I had introduced my lawyer to the fact that if the victim in my case was to sign an affidavit saying I’m not the guy who stabbed him, it was some Spanish guy about 30,
which I am not either, I’ll be alright …” and “The Paul Pierce case was the same way, but at trial he changed his statements and I got found not guilty of att. mur. (attempted murder).”

Sentencing is set for March 10.

ICE Did Questionable Things to Meet Deportation Goal

By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement manipulated the system and did highly questionable things to meet deportation goals, the Center for Investigative Reporting reported in the Washington Post.

The news organization reported that ICE included in its stats  more than 19,000 immigrants who exited the U.S. the previous year.

“When ICE officials realized in the final weeks of the fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, that the agency still was in jeopardy of falling short of last year’s mark, it scrambled to reach the goal,” Andrew Becker of the Center for Investigative Reporting reported. “Officials quietly directed immigration officers to bypass backlogged immigration courts and time-consuming deportation hearings whenever possible, internal e-mails and interviews show.

“Instead, officials told immigration officers to encourage eligible foreign nationals to accept a quick pass to their countries without a negative mark on their immigration record, ICE employees said,” according to the news organization.

To read the full story click here.

Merkel, Tusk to discuss eurozone debt crisis at Berlin talks

Mon, 06 Dec 2010

Berlin - Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk arrived in Berlin Monday for talks on the eurozone debt crisis with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Several Polish ministers accompanied Tusk for consultations with their German counterparts.

The talks come ahead a European Union summit next week, at which member states are due to agree on a permanent eurozone rescue mechanism.

Last week EU finance ministers offered Ireland an 85-billion-euro (110-billion-dollar) loan under the temporary rescue mechanism set up following Greece's debt crisis earlier this year.

Speculation remains rife that Portugal or Spain could be the next eurozone states in need of rescue measures.

Merkel is also scheduled to discuss details of the proposed rescue mechanism with Swedish premier Fredrik Reinfeldt and French President Nicolas Sarkozy later this week.

Germany is demanding that creditors pay for at least a share of future rescue schemes, but opposes the use of jointly guaranteed eurobonds, as proposed by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

This is the tenth time Germany and Poland engage in joint government consultations.

Source: Earth Times.

US embassy cables: US urges Ethiopia to back Copenhagen climate accord

Above: US embassy cables released by Wikileaks show US
diplomats campaigning hard to round up the votes at the -
Copenhagen climate change summit, including from Ethiopia.

Friday 3 December 2010 21.30 GMT

Summary: The failed Copenhagen climate change summit produced only a non-binding Accord, but the agreement suits US interests as it presents more chance of forcing China to act. US diplomats campaign hard around the world for support for the Accord. Here, the US bluntly urges Ethiopia, whose Prime Minister leads the African Union’s climate negotiations. By November 2010, 140 nations have backed the Accord, at the upper end of the US target. Key passage highlighted in yellow.

Click here to read the article at

Lost balloonists found dead in Adriatic Sea

The bodies of two balloonists who have been missing since their balloon was lost in a thunderstorm 29 September have been pulled from the Adriatic Sea. The balloon’s gondola was caught up in a fishing boat’s nets 6 December near Vieste, southern Italy, with the bodies of the two experienced balloonists still in the gondola.

Richard Abruzzo and Carol Rymer Davis were participating in the Gordon Bennet balloon race when they lost radio contact during a thunderstorm. Search and rescue teams gave up the search five days later.
Links to other sites: AP, BBC

Hillary Laughs About WikiLeaks

WASHINGTON (AP) – Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton knows how to try to get a laugh from a public embarrassment.

Ever since the website WikiLeaks started posting State Department memos—known as cables—and other classified government documents, U.S. officials have been turning a bit red as secret assessments of world leaders have become public.

She found time for a little light turn about WikiLeaks during a reception she hosted Saturday night at the State Department for recipients of this year’s Kennedy Center Honors—who include Oprah Winfrey and Paul McCartney.

Clinton said she found it extraordinary to greet so many talented people. She then said: `I am writing a cable about it, which I’m sure you’ll find soon on your closest website.”

Posted By Pat Dollard

After the tax fight, parties move to compromise
Their taking sides options limited, Democrats and Republicans appeared to unite Sunday in the rear the outlines of an financial package that would temporarily enlarge expiring tax rates to all taxpayers as well as jobless payback for millions of Americans.

Difference remains over details, and a number of Democrats sustained to object to any plan that would carry on Bush-era tax rates at the uppermost income levels.

With no action, though, Congress faced the prospect of letting the tax rates revert to higher pre-2001 and 2003 levels, and delivering a tax hike to all taxpayers. Discussions between the Obama management and a bipartisan group of lawmakers centered on a two-year addition of current rates.

Full story

Ben Roethlisberger Suffers Gruesome Broken Nose

Ben Roethlisberger suffered a ridiculously painful looking broken nose after taking a left hook – ok, a hand swipe – to the face from Ravens humongous defensive end Haloti Ngata. Big Ben’s nose has officially been upgraded from a beginner slope to a black diamond. [UPDATE: The Steelers have stated the nose is not broken, calling it a "bloodied nose." How is that nose not broken?] [pics via & via]

Mark Zuckerberg’s (Facebook CEO) Interview on 60 Minutes

Yesterday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared on 60 minutes to show off and launch the new Facebook profile pages. Zuckerberg seems a lot more relaxed since his last interview in 2008. The companies popularity and revenues have soared and they seem to be releasing a new product every month.