An employee of Germany’s BND foreign intelligence agency has been arrested on suspicion of spying for the United States…
The German Federal Prosecutor’s office said in a statement that a 31-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of being a foreign spy, but it gave no further details. Investigations were continuing, it said…
The man, who is German, has admitted passing to an American contact details about a special German parliamentary committee set up to investigate the spying revelations made by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, the politicians said…
Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said: “We don’t take the matter of spying for foreign intelligence agencies lightly“…
The United States embassy in Berlin, the State Department in Washington and the White House all declined to comment.
Germany is particularly sensitive about surveillance because of abuses by the East German Stasi secret police and the Nazis. After the Snowden revelations, Berlin demanded that Washington agree to a “no-spy agreement” with its close ally, but the United States has been unwilling…
Bild newspaper said in an advance copy of an article to be published on Saturday that the man had worked for two years as a double agent and had stolen 218 confidential documents.
He sold the documents, three of which related to the work of the committee in the Bundestag, for 25,000 euros, Bild said, citing security sources.
The United States government – regardless of which of the two TweedleDee and TweedleDumb parties is in residence – can always be counted on to rely on duplicity and lies in our relationship with every other country on this poor old planet.
The same lies they feed us.
When Obamacare compelled businesses to include emergency contraception in employee health care plans, Hobby Lobby, a national chain of craft stores, fought the law all the way to the Supreme Court. The Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate, the company’s owners argued, forced them to violate their religious beliefs. But while it was suing the government, Hobby Lobby spent millions of dollars on an employee retirement plan that invested in the manufacturers of the same contraceptive products the firm’s owners cite in their lawsuit.
Documents filed with the Department of Labor and dated December 2012—three months after the company’s owners filed their lawsuit—show that the Hobby Lobby 401(k) employee retirement plan held more than $73 million in mutual funds with investments in companies that produce emergency contraceptive pills, intrauterine devices, and drugs commonly used in abortions. Hobby Lobby makes large matching contributions to this company-sponsored 401(k)…
These companies include Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, which makes Plan B and ParaGard, a copper IUD, and Actavis, which makes a generic version of Plan B and distributes Ella. Other holdings in the mutual funds selected by Hobby Lobby include Pfizer, the maker of Cytotec and Prostin E2, which are used to induce abortions; Bayer, which manufactures the hormonal IUDs Skyla and Mirena; AstraZeneca, which has an Indian subsidiary that manufactures Prostodin, Cerviprime, and Partocin, three drugs commonly used in abortions; and Forest Laboratories, which makes Cervidil, a drug used to induce abortions. Several funds in the Hobby Lobby retirement plan also invested in Aetna and Humana, two health insurance companies that cover surgical abortions, abortion drugs, and emergency contraception in many of the health care policies they sell.
Nice to see primary source acknowledgement of one of my favorite dichos criticizing right-wing scumbags. “Republicans would have invented hypocrisy if Christians hadn’t beat them to it.”
The U.S. has been in a jobs emergency since at least 2008. The cause of the crisis…isn’t mysterious, and neither are the solutions. We could invest in infrastructure to create construction jobs. We could give tax breaks to employers who hire new workers. We could restore the payroll tax cut to workers so they have more money to spend. We could help state and local governments hire back some of the employees they laid off during the recession. Macroeconomic Advisers, an economic consulting firm, found that the American Jobs Act, which contained many of these policies, would have created 2 million jobs.
But in recent years, these policies have been either blocked or canceled by congressional Republicans. They fought Democrats to scuttle the American Jobs Act and allow the payroll tax break and long-term unemployment benefits to expire. Creating jobs, they argued, was neither feasible nor affordable.
That’s the proper context in which to view this week’s hysteria about Obamacare. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office just released updated estimates for the health law. It found that the disastrous rollout last fall put Obamacare behind schedule — on track to insure 2 million fewer people than projected by the end of 2014. On the other hand, it also found that insurance premiums were about 15 percent lower than projected, and that the law would cost less than previously estimated. It found that the risk corridors designed to safeguard insurance companies from the effects of acquiring too many high-risk customers — which Republicans have been calling an “insurer bailout” — will actually yield $8 billion in net payments from insurers to the federal government.
The finding that made the news, however, concerned the Affordable Care Act’s long-term effect on labor supply. In past reports, the CBO has estimated that the law will, on net, lead some people to drop out of the labor market or cut back on their hours because their health insurance is no longer tied to their job. Imagine a 62-year-old who would like to shift to part-time work but can’t because he can’t afford — or, due to pre-existing conditions, wouldn’t even be sold — insurance on the individual market. Now, because Obamacare has made that insurance affordable and available, he can — and will. As a result, his work hours will be (voluntarily) reduced…
Whether this is good or bad depends on your views about human flourishing. Lower labor-force participation is bad for economic growth. On the other hand, the point of life is not for everyone to work every possible hour until they die. Workers should be able to choose to leave their jobs or cut their hours without worrying that their families won’t survive a medical emergency. In addition, as the Urban Institute’s Donald Marron tweeted, “employers will be competing harder for workers,” which will push wages to rise for everyone remaining in the workforce…
Policies don’t exist in vacuums. By untying the link between employment and health care, the Affordable Care Act reduces the incentive to work. But there are ways to increase incentives to work without making people dependent on their jobs for health insurance. We can help people without taking away their health care.
So here’s a simple proposal. Repeal of the Affordable Care Act would cost hundreds of billions of dollars over the next few decades because of the law’s spending cuts and new revenue. So instead of repeal, how about if Congress devotes that same amount of money to policies to increase employment now. Republicans could even dictate that all the money flow to targeted tax cuts.
Ezra Klein politely suggests the Republicans are hypocrites. He’s wasting politeness on the crudest, least responsible clot of scumsuckers ever seated beneath the moldy dome of Congress.
Republicans denied playing a part in Wall Street’s crash and burning. They tried as hard as possible to avoid any cooperation on essential economic remedies. Every year since the beginning of the worst economic failure since Herbert Hoover was president – their mantra has been “Jobs, jobs, jobs” – while blocking any reasonable attempt to assist jobs creation.
They stuck to dribble-down economics with a 100% record of failure and spent most of their casual time inside the Capitol waging war on women, reproductive rights, working as hard as possible to rescue their mates in the insurance cartels from bona fide national healthcare, committed to every possible delay in the expansion of civil rights. And, of course, hoping to start the occasional war.
Now, once again, they say they are worried about jobs for working class America. If I was a fire-and-brimstone Christian I wouldn’t stand outdoors next to a Republican for fear of being struck by lightning.
A homeowner who is part of America, not the Confederacy – REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
An American flag is seen on the window of a door at the Breeezy Point community, which was damaged by hurricane Sandy in October 2012 in the borough of Queens in New York — photo taken October 28, 2013.
If you live in Oklahoma or Colorado and your Congresscritter voted against aid for the folks devastated by Sandy – but, they begged up for aid for you after a tornado or flood – please, give them what they deserve for being hypocrites and scumbags.
Vote ‘em out of office and tell them to get an honest job!
Even as lawmakers raced to iron out an 11th hour deal to avert breaching the debt ceiling and reopen the U.S. government, momentarily allaying worries about global economic calamity, there is another unhappy reality to contend with: The next crisis is — as always — only a few months away.
None of the plans being considered resolves the issues at hand for long. A continuing resolution would fund the government through Jan. 15, a mere three months away, and raise the nation’s borrowing authority only until February, at which point another debt ceiling battle would loom. This time, negotiators would also be charged with drawing up a detailed budget plan for the next decade by Dec. 13.
Such appears to be the new normal for governance in the United States — one self-imposed crisis following on the heels of another, with enormous consequences for the American people…
Some analysts say the dysfunctional government is just a symptom of the gaping chasm that exists between the two major parties on questions as large as the appropriate role and scope of government…
The apocalyptic deadlines in quick succession — for raising the debt ceiling, for funding government, for avoiding deep across-the-board cuts — are designed to break the impasse and soften the stances of Democrats and Republicans alike. But that tactic has proved ineffectual…
Others point to the rise of lawmakers within the GOP whose philosophy tends toward no-government rather than limited government — a minority for whom it is not beyond the pale to affix policy demands onto decisions to greenlight typically mundane functions of government. Making matters worse, these lawmakers are outside the control of mainstream party leaders…
Questions resolved – BTW – around the time of the War of 1812. Just to point out the incompetence of the Tea Party Republicans. For the average right-wing grunt doesn’t even know that much about history – much less the economics of governance that decided the same questions back then.
Gitmo’s $400,000 Go-Kart track
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told Congress Wednesday it will cost $454 million to operate the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Hagel included the cost in a report sent to the House Armed Services Committee, and two top Senate Democrats — Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois and Dianne Feinstein of California — announced the figure at a Senate Judiciary Committee subcommittee hearing, The Hill reported.
The Hill said it had obtained the report on Guantanamo operating costs that Hagel had provided to Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee. The Hill said the Pentagon report concluded the United State has spent $4.7 billion to operate the detainee facility since 2002.
“This is a massive waste of money,” said Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee…
Durbin said in a release the hearing would take testimony on the indefinite detention of 166 remaining detainees, including 86 detainees who have been cleared for transfer.
“The president has called for the closing of the Guantanamo detention facility and many in Congress support him,” Durbin said. “But Congress and the administration have been complicit in the current situation which harms our national security and leaves more than 150 detainees in limbo…
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said it was “shameful” Congress is still debating the matter.
“For over a decade, the indefinite detention of prisoners at Guantanamo has contradicted our most basic principles of justice, degraded our international standing and, by itself, has harmed our national security,” he said.
Durbin said at Wednesday’s hearing the cost-per-detainee at Guantanamo — $2.7 million per year, compared to $78,000 at “supermax” prisons — “would be fiscally irresponsible during normal economic times, but it is even worse when the Defense Department is struggling to deal with the impact of sequestration.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, the ranking Republican on the subcommittee, said Guantanamo is the only facility that can hold “terrorists who would work night and day to murder innocent Americans.”
Ted Cruz is a liar. But, you probably already know that.
The individual responsible for one of the most significant leaks in US political history is Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA and current employee of the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. Snowden has been working at the National Security Agency for the last four years as an employee of various outside contractors, including Booz Allen and Dell.
The Guardian, after several days of interviews, is revealing his identity at his request. From the moment he decided to disclose numerous top-secret documents to the public, he was determined not to opt for the protection of anonymity. “I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong,” he said…
In a note accompanying the first set of documents he provided, he wrote: “I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions,” but “I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant.”
Despite his determination to be publicly unveiled, he repeatedly insisted that he wants to avoid the media spotlight. “I don’t want public attention because I don’t want the story to be about me. I want it to be about what the US government is doing…”
On May 20, he boarded a flight to Hong Kong, where he has remained ever since. He chose the city because “they have a spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent”, and because he believed that it was one of the few places in the world that both could and would resist the dictates of the US government…
Once he reached the conclusion that the NSA’s surveillance net would soon be irrevocable, he said it was just a matter of time before he chose to act. “What they’re doing” poses “an existential threat to democracy”, he said.
“I carefully evaluated every single document I disclosed to ensure that each was legitimately in the public interest,” he said. “There are all sorts of documents that would have made a big impact that I didn’t turn over, because harming people isn’t my goal. Transparency is.”
He purposely chose, he said, to give the documents to journalists whose judgment he trusted about what should be public and what should remain concealed.
As for his future…he views his best hope as the possibility of asylum, with Iceland – with its reputation of a champion of internet freedom – at the top of his list. He knows that may prove a wish unfulfilled.
But after the intense political controversy he has already created with just the first week’s haul of stories, “I feel satisfied that this was all worth it. I have no regrets.”
Lots more in the article. A worthwhile read – to aid in understanding the processes that brought Ed Snowden to these conclusions. Watch the whole video up top. He’s bright, articulate, obviously he has been thinking about the hows and why of such a decision for a long time.
I wish him well. He’s done our nation, our democratic traditions, a service.
Like many observers, I usually read reports about political goings-on with a sort of weary cynicism. Every once in a while, however, politicians do something so wrong, substantively and morally, that cynicism just won’t cut it; it’s time to get really angry instead. So it is with the ugly, destructive war against food stamps.
The food stamp program — which these days actually uses debit cards, and is officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — tries to provide modest but crucial aid to families in need. And the evidence is crystal clear both that the overwhelming majority of food stamp recipients really need the help, and that the program is highly successful at reducing “food insecurity,” in which families go hungry at least some of the time…
First, as millions of workers lost their jobs through no fault of their own, many families turned to food stamps to help them get by — and while food aid is no substitute for a good job, it did significantly mitigate their misery. Food stamps were especially helpful to children who would otherwise be living in extreme poverty, defined as an income less than half the official poverty line.
But there’s more….Because the economy is not like an individual household — your spending is my income, my spending is your income — the result was a general fall in incomes and plunge in employment. We desperately needed (and still need) public policies to promote higher spending on a temporary basis — and the expansion of food stamps, which helps families living on the edge and let them spend more on other necessities, is just such a policy…
Wait, we’re not done yet. Food stamps greatly reduce food insecurity among low-income children, which, in turn, greatly enhances their chances of doing well in school and growing up to be successful, productive adults. So food stamps are in a very real sense an investment in the nation’s future — an investment that in the long run almost surely reduces the budget deficit, because tomorrow’s adults will also be tomorrow’s taxpayers.
So what do Republicans want to do with this paragon of programs? First, shrink it; then, effectively kill it…
Look, I understand the supposed rationale: We’re becoming a nation of takers, and doing stuff like feeding poor children and giving them adequate health care are just creating a culture of dependency — and that culture of dependency, not runaway bankers, somehow caused our economic crisis.
But I wonder whether even Republicans really believe that story — or at least are confident enough in their diagnosis to justify policies that more or less literally take food from the mouths of hungry children. As I said, there are times when cynicism just doesn’t cut it; this is a time to get really, really angry.
Another one of those times when I wish Paul Krugman was madman enough to run for elected office. Just so I might vote for him.