500 Tax Protesters Tossed From Hearing

From The Des Moines Register:

Hundreds of Iowans thrown out of public hearing

By JASON CLAYWORTH

More than 500 people who are upset with a plan to change Iowa’s tax laws were cleared from a hearing tonight at the Iowa House after they interrupted multiple times.

House Speaker Pat Murphy, D-Dubuque, cleared the crowd at about 8:30 p.m. The decision brought about loud protests as the crowd was escorted from the chambers by Iowa State Patrol officers.

“This is the most atrocious thing I’ve seen in the history of the 15 years I’ve been a lobbyist. Pat Murphy has acted like a jack-booted Nazi,” said Ed Failor Jr., president of Iowans for Tax Relief, a conservative taxpayers’ rights group from Muscatine with 50,000 members..

Failor Jr.

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Latest HHS Nominee Is Also A Tax Cheat

From a wonderfully forgiving Associated Press:

Sebelius admits errors, pays $7,000 in back taxes

By Erica Werner, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON – Health and Human Services nominee Kathleen Sebelius recently corrected three years of tax returns and paid more than $7,000 in back taxes after finding "unintentional errors" — the latest tax troubles for an Obama administration nominee. The Kansas governor explained the changes to senators in a letter dated Tuesday that the administration released. She said they involved charitable contributions, the sale of a home and business expenses.

Sebelius said she filed the amended returns as soon as the errors were discovered by an accountant she hired to scrub her taxes in preparation for her confirmation hearings. She and her husband, Gary, a federal magistrate judge in Kansas, paid a total of $7,040 in back taxes and $878 in interest to amend returns from 2005-2007…

In her letter to Baucus and Grassley, Sebelius wrote that the accountant discovered these errors:

_Charitable contributions over $250 are supposed to include an acknowledgment letter from the charity in order for a deduction to be taken.

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Ford, GM To Make Payments For Jobless

It turns out that those Obama supporters who believed he would make their mortgage payments and fill their gas tanks weren’t so wrong after all:

From a giddy Associated Press:

General Motors workers view President Barack Obama’s address in Detroit, Monday, March 30, 2009.

Ford, GM to cover car payments if buyer loses job

By Kimberly S. Johnson, AP Auto Writer

DETROIT – Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp. are offering payment protection plans to help reassure consumers who may be putting off buying a new car because of worries about losing their job.

The offers come as auto sales have been battered by the recession and tight credit, reaching their lowest levels in 27 years.

Ford said Tuesday it will cover payments of up to $700 each month for up to a year on any new Ford, Lincoln or Mercury vehicle if consumers lose their jobs.

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Soros Caught Shorting Hungarian Market

From the Agence France-Pressee:

Record fine for Soros Fund over Hungarian transactions

3/27/2009

Hungary’s financial supervisory watchdog announced Friday it had slapped a 1.6-million-euro fine on an investment fund founded by US billionaire George Soros, for manipulating the market.

The PSzAF said it had fined Soros Fund Management LLC for transactions on the Budapest stock exchange on October 9 that led to a "significant loss in value" of Hungarian OTP bank stocks, which fell in days from 4,000 forint (13.2 euros, 17.86 dollars) to 2,500 forint.

The PSzAF "is imposing a 489-million-forint fine on Soros Fund Management LLC… for violating the rules regarding the illegal manipulation of financial markets," the supervisory authority said in a statement on its Internet site.

The Soros Fund has 30 days to pay this record fine.

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Rangel Spent $777 A Month On Cadillac

From the New York Daily News:

House bigs spending tax bucks on autos: Rangel spent $777 a month for lease on Cadillac

By James Gordon Meek In Washington and Celeste Katz In New York

Tuesday, March 31st 2009

The U.S. auto industry may have been sliding down the tubes the last few years, but folks like Rep. Charles Rangel can’t be blamed for it.

Federal records show the dean of New York’s congressional delegation had been shelling out $777 a month from his office account to cruise around in a leased GM Cadillac DeVille, although aides say he recently ditched the ride

Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens) went in high style in a Lexus, made by Japanese automaker Toyota, with a monthly lease of $998, according to House records the Daily News obtained for the fourth quarter of 2008 – the most recent available.

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WP Poll: Few Blame Economy On Obama

Another contrived poll pretending to be news from Mr. Obama’s claque at the Washington Post:

(Click images to enlarge)

Blame for Downturn Not Fixed on Obama

6 in 10 Back His Handling of Economy

By Jon Cohen and Dan Balz
Tuesday, March 31, 2009; A01

The number of Americans who believe that the nation is headed in the right direction has roughly tripled since Barack Obama’s election, and the public overwhelmingly blames the excesses of the financial industry, rather than the new president, for turmoil in the economy, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

At this early stage in his presidency, Obama continues to benefit from a broadly held perception that others should bear the bulk of responsibility for the severe economic problems that confront his administration.

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Ford May Lag Behind An Obama-Run GM

From Bloomberg:

Ford May Flip to Laggard From Leader If GM Improves

By Keith Naughton

March 31 (Bloomberg) — Ford Motor Co., the only U.S. automaker not taking federal aid, could lose its competitive edge if President Barack Obama is successful in slimming down General Motors Corp. with lower labor costs, debt and dealers.

Obama gave GM 60 days to come up with a new strategy to cut costs with its union, slash debt with bondholders and reduce dealers and brands. If GM does all that, it may have significantly lower costs than Ford, said Lexington, Massachusetts-based auto analyst John Wolkonowicz of IHS Global Insight.

“This really pulled the rug out from under Ford,” said Wolkonowicz, a former Ford product planner. “The government wants to have GM survive as a leaner and greener company and Ford is going to need further restructuring in order to compete.”

Ford has been viewed by analysts and investors as the healthiest among the Detroit Three.

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Pakistan Forces Retake Police Academy

From UK’s Times:

Soldiers line up outside the walls of a police training centre after it was attacked by militants in Lahore on March 30, 2009.

Pakistan killers captured after second onslaught in Lahore

March 31, 2009

Zahid Hussain in Islamabad and Jeremy Page, South Asia Correspondent

The Pakistani city of Lahore, once synonymous with culture and cricket, was reeling from another terrorist outrage last night after a dozen gunmen stormed a police academy and killed at least 13 people in an eight-hour shootout with security forces.

Four of the militants blew themselves up, but others were captured alive after their brazen commando-style attack, which bore many similarities to the one in Mumbai in November and another on the Sri Lanka cricket team in Lahore this month.

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Reuters: 2 Americans Cheer Obama Moves

Read this entire  Reuters article and count how many people are quoted as cheering Obama’s takeover of the auto industry:

Frustrated Americans cheer Obama’s tough auto moves

By Daniel Trotta

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Some frustrated U.S. taxpayers cheered President Barack Obama’s tough steps to shore up the reeling auto industry on Monday but critics called his decision to fire General Motors’ chief a heavy-handed power grab.

Obama forced out General Motors chief executive Rick Wagoner, pushed Chrysler LLC toward a merger with Italy’s Fiat SpA, and threatened bankruptcy for both, marking an escalation in Washington’s involvement in rescuing the faltering economy.

Skeptics asked whether it was an early sign of a more activist administration or an isolated example. GM shares tumbled 30 percent on the news and the Dow Jones Industrial average sank nearly 4 percent.

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Media: Cheap Gas From Coal Is Bad News

This piece from Wired magazine is now a couple of days old, but given the latest from the Obama White House the attitude it expresses is all the more relevant:

Bad News: Scientists Make Cheap Gas From Coal

By Alexis Madrigal March 26, 2009

Electric cars have been getting a lot of buzz lately, but a more immediately viable transportation fuel of the future could be liquid derived from coal. Scientists have devised a new way to transform coal into gas for your car using far less energy than the current process. The advance makes scaling up the environmentally unfriendly fuel more economical than greener alternatives.

If oil prices rise again, adoption of the new coal-to-liquid technology, reported this week in Science,  could undercut adoption of electric vehicles or next-generation biofuels.

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What Obama Wants From Auto Makers

From Mr. Obama’s 2006 second autobiography, The Audacity Of Hope, pp 98-100:

THE LAST CRITICAL investment we need to make America more competitive is in an energy infrastructure that can move us toward energy independence. In the past, war or a direct threat to national security has shaken America out of its complacency and led to bigger investments in education and science, all with an eye toward minimizing our vulnerabilities. That’s what happened at the height of the Cold War, when the launching of the satellite Sputnik led to fears that the Soviets were slipping ahead of us technologically. In response, President Eisenhower doubled federal aid to education and provided an entire generation of scientists and engineers the training they needed to lead revolutionary advances.

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Obama Rejects GM And Chrysler Plans

From an elated Associated Press:

U.S. President Barack Obama announces that Edward Montgomery (R) will serve as the Director of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers as he speaks about the auto industry in the Grand Foyer of the White House in Washington, March 30, 2009.

White House questions viability of GM, Chrysler

By Philip Elliott, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama refused further long-term federal bailouts for General Motors and Chrysler, saying more concessions were needed from unions, creditors and others before they could be approved. He raised the possibility Monday of controlled bankruptcy for one or both of the beleaguered auto giants.

At the same time, eager to reassure consumers, Obama announced the federal government would immediately begin backing the warrantees that new car buyers receive — a step designed to signal that it is safe to purchase U.S.-made autos and trucks despite the distress of the industry.

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Obama Pushes Out General Motors Chief

From a joyous New York Times:

U.S. Lays Down Terms for Auto Bailout

By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG and BILL VLASIC

WASHINGTON — The White House on Sunday pushed out the chairman of General Motors and instructed Chrysler to form a partnership with the Italian automaker Fiat within 30 days as conditions for receiving another much-needed round of government aid.

The decision to ask G.M.’s chairman and chief executive, Rick Wagoner, to resign caught Detroit and Washington by surprise, and it underscored the Obama administration’s determination to keep a tight rein on the companies it is bailing out — a level of government involvement in business perhaps not seen since the Great Depression.

President Obama is scheduled to announce details of the auto package at the White House on Monday, but two senior officials, offering a preview on condition of anonymity, made clear that some form of bankruptcy — a quick, court-supervised restructuring, as they described it — could still be an option for one or both companies.

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Huffington Post Plans To Hire ‘Journalists’

From an envious Associated Press:

Huffington Post launches journalism venture

By DAVID BAUDER, AP Television Writer

Sunday, March 29, 2009

New York (AP) — The Huffington Post said Sunday that it will bankroll a group of investigative journalists, directing them at first to look at stories about the nation’s economy.

The popular blog is collaborating with The Atlantic Philanthropies and other donors to launch the Huffington Post Investigative Fund with an initial budget of $1.75 million. That should be enough for 10 staff journalists who will primarily coordinate stories with freelancers, said Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post…

The Huffington Post venture is reminiscent of ProPublica, a nonprofit independent newsroom funded by The Sandler Foundation and headed by Paul Steiger, former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal.

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WP Insists ‘Waterboarding’ Didn’t Work

From the usual ‘anonymous officials’ of the Washington Post:

An interrogation room used by US military officials at the closed Camp X-Ray, at the US Naval Base in Guantanamo, Cuba.

Detainee’s Harsh Treatment Foiled No Plots

Waterboarding, Rough Interrogation of Abu Zubaida Produced False Leads, Officials Say

By Peter Finn and Joby Warrick
Sunday, March 29, 2009; A01

When CIA officials subjected their first high-value captive, Abu Zubaida, to waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods, they were convinced that they had in their custody an al-Qaeda leader who knew details of operations yet to be unleashed, and they were facing increasing pressure from the White House to get those secrets out of him.

The methods succeeded in breaking him, and the stories he told of al-Qaeda terrorism plots sent CIA officers around the globe chasing leads.

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