Archives for the month of: December, 2011

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From the Borowitz Report

DECEMBER 19, 2011

Trump to Run for President of North Korea

Promises Continuity of Leadership

PYONGYANG (The Borowitz Report) – Within hours of the death of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il, real estate mogul Donald Trump roiled the political situation in that Stalinist country by announcing that he would run for its presidency.

“Kim Jong-Il ruled North Korea as the egomaniacal leader of a personality cult,” Mr. Trump told reporters en route to Pyongyang. “I can offer continuity of leadership.”

But Mr. Trump’s bid may be complicated by reports that, despite his death, the mercurial Kim plans to remain in power until 2024.

Let’s say you have two weeks’ worth of groceries in your house. Did you know that could make you suspect as a potential terrorist? Or that, if a new law now under consideration as part of the defense authorization bill is passed, you could be shipped off to Guantánano Bay and held indefinitely without trial?

We don’t normally agree with Senator Rand Paul, who is a strong libertarian. But we do agree with his assessment of this bill. “Detaining citizens without a court trial is not American,” Rand says, adding that, if the new law passes, “terrorists have won”.

Paul was backed by Senator Dianne Feinstein.

“Congress is essentially authorising the indefinite imprisonment of American citizens, without charge,” she said. “We are not a nation that locks up its citizens without charge.”

President Obama originally vowed to veto this law, but seems to have backed away from that commitment. Please urge him to reconsider.

Last week the investment company PNC Wealth Management issued its annual “True Cost of Christmas” index which reported that purchasing all the items mentioned in “The Twelve Days of Christmas” costs more than ever — $101,000, up 4.4 percent from last year.

The high price of gold sent retail demand plummeting so the cost of the five golden rings actually went down.

Seven-swans-a-swimming rose by 13 percent.

Pipers piping and drummers drumming “saw modest increases, both up 3%.”

But the cost of eight-maids-a-milking, representing the only unskilled labor, remained unchanged — there was no increase this year in the minimum wage.

Hydraulic fracturing is “the likely cause” of contaminated water supplies in Wyoming, the Environmental Protection Agency said yesterday. It is the first time that federal regulators have offered this conclusion, which comes at the end of a three-year study prompted by complaints by residents about the smell and taste of their water.

Needless to say, fracking operator Encana Oil & Gas (USA) and Wyoming’s Republican governor Matt Mead strongly dispute the E.P.A.’s conclusion. “Encana didn’t put those [contaminants] there, nature did,” a company spokesperson said. However, the chairperson of a local residents’ group, John Fenton, expressed gratitude to the E.P.A.

“This investigation proves the importance of having a federal agency that can protect people and the environment,” Fenton said. “Those of us who suffer the impacts from the unchecked development in our community are extremely happy the contamination source is being identified.”

The E.P.A. has also started a national study on the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources.

WASHINGTON (from USA Today)– More than 2.65 million Medicare recipients have saved more than $1.5 billion on their prescriptions this year, a $569-per-person average, while premiums have remained stable, the government plans to announce today.
That’s because of the provision of the health care law that put a 50% discount on prescription drugs in the “doughnut hole,” the gap between traditional and catastrophic coverage in the drug benefit, also known as Part D.
And, as of the end of November, more than 24 million people, or about half of those with traditional Medicare, have gone in for a free annual physical or other screening exam since the rules changed this year because of the health care law.

At a recent Harvard speech, Newt Gingrich lamented laws that prevent kids under 14 from working and suggested the solution to failing schools is for their students to become janitors. Check out this LA Times article.

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and state legislative leaders announced an agreement today that would create a higher tax bracket for New York’s highest-income residents while lowering taxes for the middle class.

From the New York Times: The agreement to impose taxes higher than 6.85 percent on the highest-earning New Yorkers marks a reversal for Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, who ran for governor last year on a platform of opposing tax increases and who said that renewing the tax surcharge could hurt the state by motivating wealthy residents to move to lower-tax states.

But Mr. Cuomo has come under increasing pressure from Democrats and labor unions in recent weeks as the sluggish economy weakened the state’s financial picture, widening next year’s projected state budget gap to as much as $3.5 billion, and as the Occupy Wall Street movement directed more attention to the issue of income inequality.

This is still tentative, as the legislature has to take up the package this week. But it’s not too early to give a shout-out to OWS for helping to push Cuomo in the right direction.

The extra money that the very wealthy get through the Bush tax cuts does not, as claimed by those who fund right-wing causes, create jobs in the U.S. through investment. In fact, a large proportion of these funds are invested overseas, where they create jobs for people in India and China (and some elsewhere too) – jobs that compete with Americans, and encourage more U.S. companies to move overseas.

In other words, rich Americans – the 1% – are betting against their own country. And against American workers. Not only is the tax credit undeserved and unneeded, but it noticeably hinders the recovery of our economy. So much for the loud-mouthed patriotism of the Koch brothers, Newt Gingrich and other GOP Presidential hopefuls, and the Republicans in the House and Senate who steadfastly kill any attempt to get the 1% to pay their fair share.

Check out Paul Sullivan’s column about this. He writes about strategies that the wealthy use to manage their money and their overall well-being.

The citizens of New York are adamantly opposed to Governor Cuomo’s proposal to allow hydraulic fracturing in the state, at least if this week’s public hearing in Manhattan was any indication.

As the Guardian reported, “Speakers at the packed and often unruly meeting in the 900-seat Tribeca performing arts centre were overwhelmingly against the technique.”

Josh Fox, the director of the award-winning documentary Gasland, was present at the hearing. He said that Governor Cuomo’s premise was wrong. “Your premise is how should we frack New York.” he said. But the premise really should be not to frack at all. “Clearly fracking should be banned in New York State,” Fox said.

For those who agree, it’s important to keep the anti-fracking pressure on. The 90-day hearing process—itself too short by half—will remain open to written comments up to Jan. 11.

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