Amazon Will Drop Its CA Affiliates If Taxed

From a ticked off (at Amazon) Associated Press:

Amazon to cut off California-based Web affiliates

June 29, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Inc. said Wednesday that it will stop working with online affiliates based in California since the state passed a new rule that forces online retailers to collect sales tax there.

In an email Wednesday to California-based affiliates — individuals or companies who run websites that refer visitors to Amazon and then get a cut of any resulting sales — the Seattle-based company said it would cut ties with those who reside in the nation’s most populous state if the law became effective. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the law Wednesday as part of a larger state budget package.

The rule requires online retailers such as Amazon to collect sales taxes if they have in-state affiliates.



Movie Explores Funny Side Of Unemployment

From the Hollywood Reporter:

Tom Hanks explores lighter side of unemployment

By Kirk Honeycutt
Wed Jun 29, 2011

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – Who knew that getting downsized could be such a "laff riot?"

Where "Company Men" found stark drama, even tragedy, in losing a job, Tom Hanks, ever the optimist, sees an opportunity for laughs and romance. The title character in "Larry Crowne" has his life go suddenly out of balance — and the film experiences a similar problem. Sure, the film is a romantic comedy starring Hanks and Julia Roberts, but every scene is on the prowl for laughs at the expense of the inherent drama in the lives of its colorful characters.

Fans of the two stars — among the most popular actors in Hollywood over the past two decades-plus — probably won’t mind the light, sitcom approach, but there was a much more meaningful, if somewhat darker, movie in the story Hanks dreamed up with the help of Nia Vardalos.



Unrevised New Jobless Claims Fall By 1,000

From a once again blindsided Reuters:

Jobless claims barely fall last week

June 30, 2011

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits barely fell last week, a government report showed on Thursday, suggesting the labor market was struggling to regain momentum.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits slipped just 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 428,000, the Labor Department said. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims dropping to 420,000. The prior week’s figure was unrevised at 429,000

So the Reuters economists were wrong?

By the way, given that these weekly claims are almost always revised upward — and usually by more than 3,000  – this probably means news claims have actually gone up. In fact, the only real news here is that last week’s number was not revised upward.



Experts Attack NYT Over Natural Gas Story

From CNN’s Money.Com:

Talk of natural gas bubble draws industry ire

By Steve Hargreaves, June 29, 2011

NEW YORK (CNNMoney)  — Big energy company executives and government researchers are firing back at a recent New York Times story suggesting the recent boom in natural gas production from shale rock is unsustainable and perhaps fraudulent.

"You really have to wonder why the New York Times is campaigning against cleaner-burning, domestically produced natural gas," ExxonMobil Vice President Ken Cohen wrote in a blogpost Monday…

We don’t wonder at all. And we suspect Mr. Cohen doesn’t, either. The New York Times is always against anything that might be good for America. Though that is probably just a coincidence.

The multi-part story, run in the Times Sunday and Monday, cited numerous, anonymous emails from government staffers, industry consultants and energy company executives questioning whether natural gas production from shale rock is really living up to the hype or is instead just another bubble.



AP: Boeing Dispute Is Headache For Obama

From a terribly concerned (about Obama) Associated Press:

Boeing labor dispute turns into headache for Obama

By Sam Hananel, Associated Press Wed Jun 29, 2011

WASHINGTON – The government’s labor dispute with Boeing Co. is turning into a political headache for President Barack Obama, giving his Republican rivals a fresh opening to bash the administration’s economic policies.

Do we have a monarchy? Is everything now only to be viewed through the prism of how it will affect the king? In fact, isn’t this a much bigger headache for Boeing? And what about the Boeing workers in South Carolina, who barely rate a mention in this entire article?

Or what about the ramifications this has for every other company trying to do business in the US?



US To Resume Muslim Brotherhood Contacts

From a gleeful Reuters:

Exclusive: U.S. to resume formal Muslim Brotherhood contacts

By Arshad Mohammed [sic] Wed Jun 29, 2011

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States has decided to resume formal contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, a senior U.S. official said on Wednesday, in a step that reflects the Islamist group’s growing political weight but that is almost certain to upset Israel and its U.S. backers.

What "growing political weight"? During the ‘Egyptian Uprising’ the Obama administration told us that the Muslim Brotherhood was a secular, harmless and practically insignificant organization. Were we lied to?

"The political landscape in Egypt has changed, and is changing," said the senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "It is in our interests to engage with all of the parties that are competing for parliament or the presidency."

The official sought to portray the shift as a subtle evolution rather than a dramatic change in Washington’s stance toward the Brotherhood, a group founded in 1928 that seeks to promote its conservative vision of Islam in society.



New Republic/NYT: Just Ignore Debt Ceiling

From an intern (we’re not kidding) at the New Republic:

The Debt Ceiling: Why Obama Should Just Ignore It

Matthew Zeitlin
June 24, 2011

With a Republican-controlled House demanding large cuts in present and future spending in exchange for an increase in the debt ceiling, the possibility that the federal government will have trouble financing and issuing new debt is becoming more frighteningly likely each day

Given that the US Treasury is still collecting revenue, and that our debt financing is only about 6% of the budget it is safe to say that this is a preposterous fear that is being flamed by buffoons.

But barring a timely resolution to the standoff, could President Obama simply ignore the debt ceiling and keep making good on the country’s obligations?



Lawmakers Say War Powers Act Is Outdated

From The Hill:

(Click to enlarge)

Lawmakers say modern warfare has dated the War Powers Resolution

By John T. Bennett – 06/28/11

Republican and Democratic senators continued to disagree over the Libya military operation Tuesday, but a consensus emerged that modern weapons of war have made the War Powers Resolution outdated.

Is it a ‘scientific consensus’?

Still, are we now saying that if a law is ‘outdated’ it can simply be ignored? And who gets to decide whether a law is ‘outdated’ or not? Maybe the so-called ‘debt ceiling’ is also outdated. Maybe the 22nd Amendment is outdated.

Senate Armed Services Committee members again were split along party lines about whether the White House violated the 1973 law by launching military intervention in Libya without congressional notification.



Russian Gets 25 Yrs For Exposing Non-Spies

From the Agence France-Presse:

Chief Justice Alexander Ababkov, holding paper, announces the sentence of Col. Alexander Poteyev, who was convicted in absentia, to the military court.

Russia convicts colonel of exposing US spy ring

by Dmitry Zaks Mon Jun 27, 2011

MOSCOW (AFP) – A Moscow military court on Monday handed down a 25-year sentence to a top Russian foreign intelligence agent who was convicted in absentia of exposing a "sleeper cell" network in the United States.

Colonel Alexander Poteyev received a 20-year sentence for high treason and another five years for desertion, a spokeswoman for the Moscow District Military Court told AFP.

Poteyev is unlikely to spend time in a Russian jail because he is thought to be hiding in the United States after leaving behind his wife and dramatically fleeing Moscow by night train.



Afghanistan’s Top Banker Flees For His Life

From an irony proof Associated Press:

Afghan official: Country’s top banker flees nation

By Deb Riechmann, Associated Press Mon Jun 27, 2011

KABUL, Afghanistan – Afghanistan’s top banker, who is alleged to have played a role in the failure of the nation’s largest private lender, has fled the country, a spokesman for President Hamid Karzai said Monday…

We didn’t even realize Afghanistan had a Community Re-investment Act.

Fitrat told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from a Northern Virginia hotel that he left the country because his life had been threatened and that the Karzai government was refusing to prosecute those allegedly involved in fraudulent loans.

It sure sounds like our country. (By the way, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are both in the DC, Northern Virginia area.)

"My life has become completely endangered," Fitrat said.



Hotel Attackers From Pakistan Funded Taliban

From Fox News:

Officials: Hotel Attackers Were From Taliban Sub-Group

Published June 29, 2011

International officials confirmed Wednesday that a brazen attack by suicide bombers on a popular hotel in Afghanistan that left 19 dead was the work of the Haqqani network, a Taliban sub-group funded and trained in Pakistan.

"We have intelligence indicators linking this failed terrorist attack to the Haqqani network," international officials told Fox News.

But we thought Pakistan was our friend and ally? And, for that matter, we thought that we were currently negotiating with the Taliban.

Indeed, the Obama administration seems to believe that the Taliban are not even the enemy. The only enemy in Afghanistan Mr. Obama ever talks about is Al Qaeda.

By the way, the Haqqani are part of the northern terrorist network that the ‘surge forces’ were supposed to attack later this year.



Police And Protesters Clash In Tahrir Square

From a seemingly surprised Associated Press:

Police, protesters clash for 2nd day in Cairo

By Hamza Hendawi, Associated Press
June 29, 2011

CAIRO – Egyptian security forces and protesters clashed for a second successive day in central Cairo on Wednesday in scenes not seen since the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak in February.

Riot police were deployed around the Interior Ministry and were using tear gas to keep the protesters at bay. The demonstrators were responding with rocks and firebombs. The clashes left streets littered with rocks and debris and sent a cloud of tear gas over the area…

Dozens of protesters and policemen were injured in the violence Tuesday and Wednesday, but there were no exact figures immediately available. Ambulances were ferrying the wounded to hospitals and volunteer doctors and nurses were treating others on sidewalks…

Many of the protesters who took to the streets on Tuesday are believed to be relatives of some 850 people killed during the uprising that ousted the former president, and are frustrated over what they perceive as the slow pace of prosecution of police officers believed to be responsible for the deaths.



AP Does Not Mention Party In Blago Verdict

From the Associated Press:

Jury convicts former Illinois governor in retrial

By MICHAEL TARM, Associated Press
June 26, 2011

CHICAGO (AP) — Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been convicted of 17 of the 20 charges against him, many related to his attempt to sell or trade President Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat.

Jurors deadlocked on one charge of attempted extortion in an alleged shakedown involving funding for a school in the district of then-Congressman Rahm Emanuel.

The jury found Blagojevich not guilty of soliciting bribes in the alleged shakedown of a road-building executive. The panel deadlocked on a charge of attempted extortion on that same case.

Blagojevich rode his talkative "everyman" image to two terms as Illinois governor before scandal made him the object of national jokes.



Selected News For The Week Jun 25 – Jul 1

This thread is for the busy bees of S&L to post news articles that expose the rampant distortions and biases of our media watchdogs.

Posting Guidelines

To make the articles as readable as possible, please:

  • Only post ‘hard news’ from establishment media outlets.
  • Avoid editorials and ‘thought pieces’ unless they are truly newsworthy.
  • Eschew major news items that most people will likely have seen elsewhere.
  • Post articles that fit under the topic of a recent thread as a comment there.
  • Always spell out the name of the source and post a link to it.
  • Always post less than one quarter of the original article.

Posts of articles that do not follow these guidelines may be edited or deleted.




NJ Cuts Benefits For Union Public Employees

From a tear stained New York Times:

New Jersey Lawmakers Approve Benefits Rollback for Work Force

June 23, 2011

TRENTON — New Jersey lawmakers on Thursday approved a broad rollback of benefits for 750,000 government workers and retirees, the deepest cut in state and local costs in memory, in a major victory for Gov. Chris Christie and a once-unthinkable setback for the state’s powerful public employee unions.

And if The Times and the rest of the news media had their way, it would still be unthinkable.

The Assembly passed the bill 46 to 32, as Republicans and a few Democrats defied raucous protests by thousands of people whose chants, vowing electoral revenge, shook the State House

Thanks to the midterm elections, the New Jersey Assembly now fears the voters even more than they fear the unions’ rent-a-mobs.



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