Ryan says he’ll reduce tax favors for rich – and pledges to increase their biggest tax break!

Paul Ryan, the Republican candidate for vice president, says he wants to scuttle the tax breaks of America’s rich, but he also proposes expanding one of the biggest breaks enjoyed by the wealthiest – the low tax rate on investment income.

Ryan, Mitt Romney’s running mate, last week hinted at how their ticket would revamp the tax code starting in 2013. He vowed to unveil details only after the November 6 elections…

Wealthier Americans generally trim their taxes in two big ways. One is through tax deductions such as those for charitable donations. The other, a lower tax rate on investment income than on wages, favors the rich because they have more investment income than taxpayers further down the income ladder whose salaries make up the bulk of their income.

The wealthier also reap a bigger benefit because their steeper marginal income tax rates mean that a lower rate on investment income translates into a bigger discount…

“When I look for tax advantages enjoyed by very high-income people, everything else pales in comparison to the favorable treatment of their capital gains and dividends,” said Clint Stretch, former counsel at the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation.

The top 1 percent of taxpayers derive 35 percent of their income from investments, while the poorest 20 percent derive about 2 percent of their total income from capital investments, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

If you expect someone like Paul Ryan or Mitt Romney to move into your neighborhood, you might be one of those folks who doesn’t care for tax reform. The rest of us are still in favor of progressive income tax structures and want to see an end to offshore escape roads.

We may not be Greece, yet — Wall Street’s not entirely in charge of our country’s economy. But, we’re damned close to being Italy with all the ways and means available for the rich to slip their money out of the country.

Another black eye for state’s managing OSHA’s workplace safety

L.V. and Tina Hall – 2 years before she died

Around midnight on June 1, 2007, Tina Hall was finishing her shift in a place she loathed: the mixing room at the Toyo Automotive Parts factory in Franklin, Ky., where flammable chemicals were kept in open containers.

A spark ignited vapors given off by toluene, a solvent Hall was transferring from a 55-gallon drum to a hard plastic bin. A flash fire engulfed the 39-year-old team leader, causing third-degree burns over 90 percent of her body. She died 11 days later.

After investigating the accident, the Kentucky Labor Cabinet’s Department of Workplace Standards cited Toyo for 16 “serious” violations and proposed a $105,500 fine in November 2007…

The violations didn’t stick. Every one of them went away in 2008, as did the fine, after Toyo’s lawyer vowed to contest the enforcement action in court. Last month, in a move believed to be unprecedented in Kentucky, the Department of Workplace Standards reinstated all the violations because, it said, the company hadn’t made promised safety improvements.

The case was another black eye for state-run workplace health and safety programs nationwide. In all, 26 states administer their own programs under federal supervision. Several have been criticized in recent years for capitulating to lawyered-up employers, performing subpar inspections and shutting out accident victims’ families.

RTFA for lots of details, examples of states rights and local bureaucracy used as you would expect – to walk away from responsibility to provide safe conditions for working people. Like many smoke-and-mirrors state programs, these exist because of lax administration by a federal bureaucracy equally unconcerned about those they are chartered to protect.

Kentucky is just one example of a state with employers let off the hook by states rights and state responsibilities. But, the case of Tina Hall, burned to death from a terrible fire stinks even more because a department run by cowards and cowed civil servants backed away from prosecution and penalties simply because the company responsible threatened to contest the case.

Angry because his wife’s pig damaged his power saw, Kiwi hubbie assaults wife with Ostrich egg — WTF?

Waipawa, New Zealand — Phillip Russell lost his temper when he discovered the pig had damaged his power saw, verbally abusing his wife, spitting at her then grabbing an ostrich egg from the kitchen table and hurling it at her, Fairfax Media reported.

It said Russell, 46, had repeatedly asked his wife to keep the pet pig under control as it had damaged their home, a neighbour’s house and council property, but she insisted it should be given free range.

The ostrich egg, the largest type of egg produced by any living bird species, caused bruising to the chest of Russell’s wife, the report said.

It said Russell pleaded guilty to charges including assault using an ostrich egg as a weapon over the July 5 incident and was sentenced to six months jail in Hastings District Court on Wednesday…

The report did not explain why Russell had an ostrich egg, a species that is not native to New Zealand.

Are these people auditioning for some truly strange reality TV show on Oceania television?

Commodity trader boasts – “We’ll make a killing out of food crisis”

The United Nations, aid agencies and the British Government have lined up to attack the world’s largest commodities trading company, Glencore, after it described the current global food crisis and soaring world prices as a “good” business opportunity.

With the US experiencing a rerun of the drought “Dust Bowl” days of the 1930s and Russia suffering a similar food crisis that could see Vladimir Putin’s government banning grain exports, the senior economist of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, Concepcion Calpe, told The Independent: “Private companies like Glencore are playing a game that will make them enormous profits.”

Ms Calpe said leading international politicians and banks expecting Glencore to back away from trading in potential starvation and hunger in developing nations for “ethical reasons” would be disappointed.

“This won’t happen,” she said. “So now is the time to change the rules and regulations about how Glencore and other multinationals such as ADM and Monsanto operate. They know this and have been lobbying heavily around the world to water down and halt any reform.”

Glencore’s director of agriculture trading, Chris Mahoney, sparked the controversy when he said: “The environment is a good one. High prices, lots of volatility, a lot of dislocation, tightness, a lot of arbitrage opportunities.

“We will be able to provide the world with solutions… and that should also be good for Glencore.”

RTFA for a touch more detail – about the greed, self-serving ethics of the corporate world that relies upon Free Market ideology and economics as the only excuse needed to justify profiteering from the pain and hunger of the world.

Are livestock antibiotics contributing to human obesity?

By altering the fine balance of gut bacteria which influence our metabolism, even small amounts of the drugs entering the food chain could have caused obesity rates to rise, researchers claim.

Although the use of antibiotics on farms is now banned in the EU due to the risk of germs becoming drug-resistant, it was commonplace in the 1950s and is still permitted in the US…

Prof Martin Blaser of New York University, who led the study, said: “The rise of obesity around the world is coincident with widespread antibiotic use, and our studies provide an experimental linkage…

For decades farmers in Britain and around the world fed low doses of antibiotics to cattle, sheep, pigs and chickens because the drug caused the animals to gain weight.

In the new study, researchers studied the effects of penicillin and other common antibiotics on weaning mice, using doses similar to the non-medical amounts used by farmers.

Their results, published in the Nature journal, showed that the drugs altered the balance of bacteria in their gut, causing metabolic changes which led them to gain 10 to 15 per cent more fat than untreated mice…

A related study published earlier this week by the same authors showed that young children who had taken small amounts of antibiotics were more likely to have higher amounts of body fat…

This study adds to the body of knowledge suggesting several mechanisms all of which tie antibiotics used to fatten animals to human weight gain – regardless of the lies rationales used by farmers to justify the drugs.

At least the next Congressional junket will be able to Tweet

At the historical park of Kfar Kedem, visitors dressed in biblical robes and headdresses ride donkeys through the rolling hills of the Galilee, learning how people lived in Old Testament times.

But they can also surf the web while touring the land of the Bible on one of the oldest forms of transportation. The device slung around the donkey’s neck like a feedbag is actually a Wi-Fi router…

“You take some pictures, you want to change your picture on Facebook — you can do it,” Menachem Goldberg said…

Visitor Peter Scherr accessed the Internet while touring the Galilee hills to do some donkey fact-finding with his family…

Scherr visited the park with his wife and children, all dressed in traditional garb. The family could easily have been mistaken for shepherds from a bygone age — were it not for their Camelbacks, iPads and smartphones.

I hope the donkey gets extra feed for lugging around electronic gear in addition to tourists.

Eric Cantor will be able to Tweet his constituents right from donkeyback – tell them what setious research his family is helping him with.