Saturday, September 7, 2013

Eight TSA Workers Arrested in Dallas in Stolen Parking Pass Scam

Eight U.S. Transportation Security Administration employees were among nine people arrested in connection with stolen parking passes at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, police said today.

Airport police found stolen airline employee-parking placards had been sold for $100 each to TSA workers. The passes would normally cost $34 a month or $400 a year, according to a police statement.

The passes were among 129 that went missing from an American Eagle Airlines Inc. office inside an airport terminal in March. An airline employee has been arrested on a felony charge involving the theft of the passes, police said. The carrier is a unit of American Airlines parent AMR Corp.

TSA misconduct, and the agency’s handling of it, has been a concern in Congress. The Government Accountability Office said in a July 31 report the agency hasn’t been consistent in meting out discipline for infractions ranging from sleeping on the job to stealing travelers’ laptops from security lines.

One TSA employee faces a felony charge of theft for selling the placards to colleagues, police said. The other six government workers face misdemeanor charges for using the stolen passes. The airport didn’t release names of the arrested employees, saying the investigation was continuing.
Via: NewsMax

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Ed Schultz: The “spite in conservative hearts” for Obama is the “only reason they are against war for the first time, ever”

The intellectualism. The nuance. The insight. It’s overwhelming me
Isn’t this an interesting collection of folks right here. What does it take to get a Republican to be against an airstrike? What does it take a Republican to be against a war or confrontation? Correct me if I’m wrong, folks, you can do it on Twitter — don’t the Republicans always run on the foreign policy that they are the experts? That the Democrats are weak, and that they are the ones that are so concerned about America’s security? You know, as the evidence comes in about the use of chemical weapons, how can they oppose the president? And a growing number of far right-wing Republicans are coming out and opposing an airstrike on Syria? Believe it or not, the righties like Rick Santorum and Marco Rubio and Michele Bachmann. And then, of course, there’s Donald Rumsfeld, Mr. Expert. They are saying no to an airstrike on Syria — and I agree with them. But for, of course, completely different reasons folks. The Republicans, they don’t hate war. They hate this guy: Barack Hussein Obama. They just cannot stomach the fact that they might be agreeing with him, ’cause they’d have a lot of trouble back home. They have fought this president, obstructed this president, their whole focus is to make him a failure. How in the world can they support him on going up against Syria? The level of spite in conservative hearts for this president is the only reason they are against war for the first time ever.
Yes, because as all of us here know, Republicans are unabashedly for war in and of itself, and not actually for the long-term goals and careful military reasoning behind war (which, by the way, the president is very much lacking in this case). Duh.

WATCH: The 13 Craziest Cable News Moments of the Summer

Things tend to go off the rails on cable news when summer rolls around. People go on vacation, stop paying as much attention and usually there’s less actual “news” happening. Between major Supreme Court rulings in this country and everything happening abroad in Egypt and Syria, the summer of 2013 had more than its fair share of real news to cover. But of course, that didn’t stop America’s cable news networks for airing some absolutely outrageous segments on a long list of ridiculous subjects.
Now that Labor Day has come and gone, kids are getting back to school and Congress is getting back in session, here’s a look back at highlights (or low-lights, depending on your point of view) from one crazy summer of cable news.

Russell Brand Crashes Morning Joe
Somehow, Mika Brzezinski not knowing who actor Russell Brand is produced one of the most riveting (and honest) cable news segment of the summer. “Is this what you all do for a living?!” Brand asked the hosts incredulously.

What’s Another $45 Million at the Energy Department?

doe-sign copyThe Department of Energy (DOE) announced it is spending $45 million of taxpayer money for 38 different projects for advanced transportation technologies. But private companies should be making these investments on their own to provide the best products available for consumers.
The 38 projects funded by DOE are going to universities, laboratories, and private companiesfor development of more efficient batteries for electric vehicles, advanced fuels and lubricants, efficient heating ventilations and air conditioning systems, and the next generation of lightweight materials to make cars lighter while not compromising safety.
The list of projects come across as innovative, cutting-edge, and perhaps transformative of the transportation industry. But automakers and other manufacturers are not paying for this research themselves; they’re relying on taxpayer money.
If companies believe it is in their best interest to invest in research and development, they should make those investments with their own money. The companies that identify opportunities will capture the economic benefits, and those that don’t will remain stagnant or suffer. When companies have to make those choices with their own money, risk and reward are properly aligned.
In some instances, the DOE spending is blatant corporate welfare. DOE awarded $1.5 million to Caterpillar, $1.75 million to General Electric, $3 million to 3M Company, and $350,000 to Ford Motor Company. If these companies believe it is valuable to work with the DOE laboratories and universities, they should do so, but there is no need for taxpayers to subsidize them.

Indiana firm acquires MV-1 wheelchair accessible vehicle

$50 Million Loan from Government gets only $3 million 

Washington — Indiana-based AM General agreed to acquire the Michigan-based MV-1 wheelchair accessible vehicle funded by the Obama administration with a $50 million loan.

AM General said it had reached a deal with the U.S. Department of Energy to purchase the DOE’s secured loan to the Vehicle Production Group LLC. AM General bought the loan for $3 million.

VPG originally developed and manufactured the MV-1, the only U.S.-built vehicle specifically designed from the ground up to meet the needs of wheelchair passengers. Built in Mishawaka, Ind. by AM General at its former Hummer facility, the wheelchair-accessible vehicle ran on compressed natural gas or gasoline.

The Obama administration said it will lose money on the investment. It previously recouped a $5 million reserve fund, so it’s not clear how much of the remaining $45 million it lost. But chances are it lost tens of millions of dollars, since there was little outside interest for the start-up. The Energy Department auctioned off its outstanding loan in recent weeks to exit the troubled investment.

“After exhausting any realistic possibility for a sale that might have protected our entire investment, the Department determined that auctioning the remainder of VPG’s loan obligation offered the best possible recovery for the taxpayer.

We are pleased that — consistent with the intent of the loan — AM General has committed to the continued production of these very popular, handicap-accessible, natural gas-powered fleet vehicles in Indiana. Their plant will continue operations, generating job opportunities for American workers and helping to establish a domestic manufacturing base for these advanced vehicles,” Energy spokesman Bill Gibbons said.

Via: Autos Insider

[VIDEO] Santelli on Market Rally after Jobs Report: ‘What Are We, A Banana Republic?’

The August Jobs Report showed 169,000 jobs were added, less than many had predicted and revisions from previous months even included a drop of 74,000 jobs. So the jobs total for the month was really just 95,000.
The stock market continued to rally, but CNBC’s Rick Santelli, who covers the Chicago Board of Trade, said that such a contrast was upsetting. “What are we, a banana republic?” Santelli asked. “I just think it’s absolutely horrible that we’re in a marketplace where we get a lousy report. 35 years since we’ve seen these participation rates, and listen: you can’t hide the spread of four to four-and-a-half percent between the advertised unemployment rate and what it would be if you would go back a few years on that participation rate,” he explained.

Santelli, whose Feb. 9, 2009, rant helped give rise to the Tea Party, also said that this latest jobs report was a bad sign for the nation’s future. “See, those people aren’t working. They’re not buying houses, they’re not buying cars. They’re using services, they may be using entitlements or welfare. You can’t hide those millions of people forever. So we wonder why we see our costs to take care of people who are in between jobs rising faster than other areas, less improvement in the economy, not good GDP, that’s why. You can’t play this three card monte game for long. And to see the stock market rally on crappy data to me is just a horrible dynamic. What are we, a banana republic?” he asked.
Via: Newsbusters

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115,000 fewer Americans worked in August, 312,000 left workforce entirely

The Department of Labor released its August jobs report showing that 115,000 fewer Americans had jobs in August than did in July, and 312,000 fewer Americans participated in the workforce entirely. (Photo: Thinkstock)President Obama continued to preside over the weakest economic recovery since the Great Depression Friday, as the Department of Labor released its August jobs report showing that 115,000 fewer Americans had jobs in August than did in July, and 312,000 fewer Americans participated in the workforce entirely.
Employers did report creating 169,000 new jobs in August, but the Labor Department also cut the number of jobs created in July from 162,000 to 104,000, a 58,000 job loss.
Thanks almost entirely to the exit of more than 300,000 Americans from the labor force, the unemployment rate did fall from 7.4 percent to 7.3 percent. But if labor participation was the same today as it was just a year ago, the unemployment rate would be 7.7 percent.
The rate of job creation, already extremely weak for a supposed economic recovery, also showed clear signs of slowing. Incorporating the Labor Department's downwards jobs revisions, employers created 184,000 jobs over the past year, but only 160,000 jobs over the last six months, and only 148,000 jobs over the last three months.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Good news for Obamacare

In the conservative echo chamber, there is little doubt about Obamacare: It’s an unmitigated, costly disaster. In the real world, there is a fascinating, high-stakes question that still needs answering: How well will this restructuring of the health-care industry, workable in theory, operate in reality?
Opponents of health care reform protest outside the Supreme Court last year. (Charles Dharapak/Associated Press)
Opponents of health-care reform protest outside the Supreme Court last year. (Charles Dharapak/Associated Press)
We won’t have a full picture for a long time. But, as the nation prepares for the phase-in of the law’s most important elements next month, we are starting to get real data back. And at least one major criticism — that the law will require people without employer-sponsored insurance to buy very expensive health-care coverage — looks increasingly weak.
new analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation offers the clearest picture yet of how much different sorts of Americans will have to pay for their coverage in the “exchanges” the government is setting up for individual insurance customers. Bottom-line costs will vary, as they do now, depending on where you live, your income, your age and other factors. But, “while premiums will vary significantly across the country,” the report concludes, “they are generally lower than expected.”
For example, we estimate that the latest projections from the Congressional Budget Office imply that the premium for a 40-year-old in the second lowest cost silver plan would average $320 per month nationally. Fifteen of the eighteen rating areas we examined have premiums below this level, suggesting that the cost of coverage for consumers and the federal budgetary cost for tax credits will be lower than anticipated.

Via: Washington Post

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Obama hints he may abandon Syria strike

President Barack Obama hinted Friday that he might not strike Syria if Congress rejects his authorization request.
“I’m not itching for military action… and if there are good ideas that are worth pursuing, then I’m going to be open to them,” he told one reporter who asked if he was seeking alternatives to a missile strike.
“Are we on a fast track to military action as soon as Congress renders its judgment one way or the other?” the reporter asked Obama, during his morning press conference in St. Petersburg, Russia.
“Some in Congress have suggested giving the Syrian regime 45 days to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention, get rid of its chemical stockpiles, do something that would enhance the international sense of accountability for Syria, but delay military action,” the reporter asked.
“I am listening to all these ideas, and some of them are constructive,” he said.
“My goal is to maintain the international norm on banning chemical weapons. I want that enforcement to be real… I want people to understand that gassing innocent people, you know, delivering chemical weapons against children, is not something we do,” he said.
Through the press conference, Obama played down the prospect of a strike, whether by aircraft-launched guided bombs, or sea-launched missiles, such as the Tomahawk cruise missile.
“As I said last night, I was elected to end wars, not start them,” he said. “I’ve spent the last four and a half years doing everything I can to reduce our reliance on military power as a means of meeting our international obligations and protecting the American people.”

Maryland gun applications soar as stricter control law looms

mdgunapps12.jpgApplications for gun purchases in Maryland are soaring ahead of the start of a tough new firearms law that sets new magazine capacity limits and bans the sale of certain types of assault weapons. 

The Washington Times reported that state police received 85,141 gun-purchase applications this year through Aug. 31. That’s compared with 70,099 applications in all of 2012 and 46,339 applications in 2011. Maryland State Police have increased staffing to cope.

In August 2012, 38 employees were assigned to conduct background checks, but this year 73 employees are doing that work, according to Sgt. Marc Black. Black said 60 temporary staffers are also rotating hours.

“We’re looking at unprecedented numbers,” Maryland State Police Sgt. Marc Black told the newspaper. “We saw this coming.”

So far, officials have processed 46,942 of this year’s applications.
Meanwhile gun dealers say they have been overwhelmed ahead of the law’s Oct. 1 effective date.

Via: Fox News

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Weiner's inner circle says he's prepping for future comeback

Former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s (D-N.Y.) friends believe that, while his campaign for mayor may have become a joke, it will set him up for a future political comeback.

New York voters puzzle over why Weiner stays in the race despite constant ridicule. The city’s tabloids pump out streams of headlines punning on his name while late-night comics have made him a national punch line.

Instead of dropping out, Weiner has embraced the media maelstrom in a calculated gamble that voters would respect his toughness and dedication to their issues.

new documentary by Stateless Media captures Weiner’s unorthodox campaign strategy, which sometimes resonated and, other times, fell flat with voters.

Weiner’s friends say he is setting himself up for a comeback in another race and another year.

Bill Brandt, a close friend of Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, said Weiner’s campaign will clear the way for a future run for office.

“The truth of the matter is he’s been beaten up now for two months nonstop. When he does something for the future, it will be fair of him to say ‘asked and answered’” when reporters ask him about his personal life, said Brandt, who is also a long-time supporter of Bill and Hillary Clinton. 
Via: The Hill

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