Revealed: How a taxpayer bail out that could run into BILLIONS was built in to Obamacare to protect insurance companies if they lost out in reform

 

  • The Affordable Care Act included a way for insurance companies to recoup their losses from covering everyone regardless of their health
  • If insurers lose money, the government’s funds – taxpayer dollars – cover between 50 and 80 percent of the losses for three years
  • Premiums for 2015 are expected to skyrocket before the November elections, and Democrats hope the payments will keep prices down
  • When the Obamacare law passed in 2010, it omitted the authority for the government to make these ‘risk corridors’ payments
  • But in a bit fo regulatory sleight-of-hand last week, the Health and Human Services Department quietly issued a regulation authorizing them

By David Martosko, U.S. Political Editor

Published: 12:17 EST, 21 May 2014 | Updated: 12:53 EST, 21 May 2014

Health insurance companies are poised to have access to billions of taxpayer dollars in what Republicans are calling an Obamacare ‘bailout.’

In a little-noticed regulation issued late last week, the Department of Health and Human Services authorized massive payments to insurers that lose money because of the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that they cover even the oldest and sickest Americans. Continue reading “Revealed: How a taxpayer bail out that could run into BILLIONS was built in to Obamacare to protect insurance companies if they lost out in reform”

Rise of robot reporters: when software writes the news

Robot

  • 17:00 21 March 2014 by Aviva Rutkin

Just three minutes after an earthquake hit California on Monday, the Los Angeles Times broke the story on its website.

The short article seemed fairly ordinary. It covered all the major details – when the quake hit, its magnitude and how far it spread. The only sign of anything unusual was the final sentence: “This post was created by an algorithm written by the author.”

In other words, the article was put together by a robot. Continue reading “Rise of robot reporters: when software writes the news”

Antisocial Network to help users avoid their friends

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...

Friday, 21 March 2014

A pair of U.S. developers have created Cloak, an iPhone “antisocial network” to help users avoid running into their friends.

Cloak, created by programmer Brian Moore and former Buzzfeed creative director Chris Baker, is billed as the “antisocial network” and uses check-in data from Foursquare and Instagram to allow users to see the locations of their friends on a map, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday. Continue reading “Antisocial Network to help users avoid their friends”

Scientists REFUSE to release a list of 1,500 outdated Los Angeles homes, offices, and factories at risk of collapse from an earthquake / For fear of being sued

  • Scientists refuse to pass on details they  collected on unsafe buildings
  • Non-reinforced concrete structures are a deadly trap  during major quakes
  • Separate  list by LA Times shows Capitol Records building, Pantages Theater, and Avalon  nightclub among dangerous buildings
  • Scientists  confirm 99 percent chance a 6.7 quake will hit within 30  years
  • Catastrophic 7.5 magnitude quake has a 46 percent  chance of striking

By  Joshua Gardner, Ap Reporter and Chris Pleasance

PUBLISHED: 07:42 EST, 21  October 2013 |  UPDATED: 07:42 EST, 21 October 2013

Researches are refusing to hand over a list of buildings in Los Angeles which they say are liable to collapse if an earthquake strikes.

Professor Jack Moehle, from UC Berkeley,  previously said he would hand the list to city officials without making it  public for fear of being sued.

However, a spokesman for the Mayor Eric  Garcetti said that when his office  requested the list in order to make a  head-start on tackling the  problem, they were told they couldn’t have it.

Which ones? A list of Los Angeles' buildings in danger of crumbling in the next big quake is being held back by UC Berkeley researchersWhich ones? A list of Los Angeles’ buildings in danger  of crumbling in the next big quake is being held back by UC Berkeley  researchers

Last weekend scientists warned that a  6.7  magnitude earthquake is almost certain to happen on the West Coast  in the next  30 years and if it does 1,500 ageing buildings in LA could  turn into death  traps.

The research team, lead by engineering  professor Moehle, looked at public records and  did a walking survey in order to  establish which properties were at  risk.

The team found modest homes,  millionaire  high rises, and factories with outdated  concrete constructions that had slipped  through the cracks of city ordinances.

The Los Angeles Times reported Sunday that the buildings are susceptible  because they do not contain  enough steel reinforcing bars to sustain  them during the sideways shaking  triggered by a large quake.

Neither Professor Jack Mohele, who lead the  study, nor any of his team responded to requests for comment by the  Times.

LA officials have known about the dangers for  more than 40 years but have  failed to force owners to make their properties  safer or to compile a  list of endangered buildings, according to the  Times.

The Times compiled its own list using many of  the same methods the  scientists did. The newspaper had a team of reporters  research thousands of city and county records to identify older  buildings.

Awaiting disaster? The iconic Capitol Records building was identified by the LA Times as one of 1,000 outdated structures in danger of collapse in the next big Southern California earthquakeThis scientology building at 6331 Sunset

Awaiting disaster? The iconic Capitol Records building  (left) was identified by the LA Times as one of 1,000 outdated structures in  danger of collapse in the next big Southern California earthquake, as was  Hollyood’s Guaranty building, now home to the Church of  Scientology

The reporters visited the buildings  themselves, checked building  permits and interviewing owners to see what if any  quake-safety upgrades  had been made over the years.

The analysis concluded that more than 1,000  structures are at risk, with  more than 50 in Los Angeles likely to fall down,  putting thousands of  people at risk.

Many of these at-risk buildings include  landmarks and  buildings frequented by many of LA’s 40 million visitors per  year—such as the Capitol Records building, Pantages Theater, the  Hollywood  Guaranty building, home to the Church of Scientology, and the  Avalon Hollywood  nightclub.

Many of the at-risk buildings were found to  be in the Hollywood area, which is bisected by a fault capable of rocking the  area with a direct 7.0 earthquake.

Full house: The study pointed out the historic Avalon Theater as in danger of falling down in the next quake thanks to outdated construction. It is now a popular nightclub with a capacity for 2,000 peopleFull house: The study pointed out the historic Avalon  Theater as in danger of falling down in the next quake thanks to outdated  construction. It is now a popular nightclub with a capacity for 2,000  people

LA’s downtown area, full of outdated  textile  factories, is also at risk. This includes Scott Kim’s family  business, which  his family paid $5 million for 10 years ago.

‘It went through other earthquakes, and it’s  still here,’ Kim told the  Times. ‘I know back in the day they built buildings  much sturdier than  buildings today.’

Metal skeleton: This reinforced concrete column shows today's construction. Metal rebar throughout prevents collapse. Older buildings lack such steel skeletons and are in danger of buckling and crushing those insideMetal skeleton: This reinforced concrete column shows  today’s construction. Metal rebar throughout prevents collapse. Older buildings  lack such steel skeletons and are in danger of buckling and crushing those  inside

However, Kim admits that no one walked him  and his family through the seismic risks when they bought the place.

Two earthquakes, Sylmar in 1971 and  Northridge in 1994, killed 125 people, injured more than 9,000 and toppled two  hospitals, an apartment building and several freeway overpasses, including one  that was rebuilt after falling during the 1971 quake.

More than 40,000 buildings were damaged  across Southern California.

A 1995 earthquake in Kobe, Japan  killed  6,000 and many were in concrete buildings.

Another 133 people died in a  2011 New  Zealand quake after two non-reinforced concrete office  buildings were  toppled.

A 2008 forecast gave 99 percent chance of a  6.7 magnitude quake in the  next three decades, and 46 percent chance of a 7.5  or greater, with  Southern California at the epicenter.

Researchers like Thomas Heaton of Caltech’s  Earthquake Engineering Research  Laboratory worry it will take a deadly tragedy  to create change.

‘We know darn well that if a bunch of people  die, there will be lots of  stories, lots of reports, things will change,’  Heaton said. ‘But the  question is, do we have to have lots of people die in  order to make this change?’

Historic: Hollywood's Pantages building is also at risk of collapse due to non-updated construction says the LA Times and scientists say the next big quake will likely come within the next 30 yearsHistoric: Hollywood’s Pantages building is also at risk  of collapse due to non-updated construction says the LA Times and scientists say  the next big quake will likely come within the next 30 years

QUICK, EASY, AND DEADLY – LA’S  LOVE AFFAIR WITH CONCRETE BUILDINGS

CONCRETE  BOOM

The City of Angels saw a massive population  influx in the 1920s and a huge  rush to build homes and business to accommodate  the new Angelenos.

The era saw a concrete structures spring up  en-masse, helping to pave the way toward the sprawling Los Angeles seen today.

In the 1970s, concrete towers began to line  LA’s famous avenues, like the historic Capitol Records building.

Pancaked: An aerial shot of an LA building that pancaked following the 1994 Northridge quake. Outdated, non-reinforced concrete structures routinely collapse during powerful earthquakes and many such buildings remain in LAPancaked: An aerial shot of an LA building that pancaked  following the 1994 Northridge quake. Outdated, non-reinforced concrete  structures routinely collapse during powerful earthquakes and many such  buildings remain in LA

CONCRETE  BUST

In 1971, the 6.6 Sylmar earthquake killed 52  people after the concrete structures failed to withstnd the tremor.

On such building was the 3-storey San  Fernando Valley VA Hospital which collapsed, crushing patients in their  beds.

The magnitude 6.7 Northridge earthquake in  1994 saw even more concrete structures destroyed.

As a result of the two disasters the city  tightened regulations for new  buildings and began retrofitting older sites with  steel beams.

However, attempts to force building owners to  update their properties have largely been a failure.

The work is costly and owners are either  unwilling or unable to foot the bill.

Destroyed: This iconic image from the 1994 Northridge quake shows the concrete Kaiser Permanente building that sat near the epicenter of the 6.7 temblorDestroyed: This iconic image from the 1994 Northridge  quake shows the concrete Kaiser Permanente building that sat near the epicenter  of the 6.7 temblor

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2470108/Scientists-REFUSE-release-list-1-500-outdated-Los-Angeles-homes-offices-factories-risk-collapse-earthquake.html#ixzz2iNHE33Hu Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

The LA Times decides not to print letters from readers claiming there’s no evidence for human-caused climate change

Should newspapers ban letters from climate science deniers?

 

Planet OZ blog

Construction of liquid natural gas processing plant LNG in Aniva Bay on Sakhalin Island Russia.  Photograph: Iain Masterson/Alamy

Here’s an excerpt from a Letter to the Editor, printed earlier this week in The Australian newspaper.

“While [temperatures] have been higher than before the past 15 years, they have not increased in line with fossil fuel emissions, just as they failed to do over the 1948-77 period. This makes incorrect the theory that fossil fuel emissions cause temperature increases.” Des Moore, South Yarra, Victoria.

Wrongheaded and simplistic views like this are a regular feature on the letters page of The Australian newspaper and no doubt hundreds of other newspapers around the world where readers respond to stories about climate change.

Some letter writers have accepted that humans cause climate change, a conclusion backed by multiple lines of evidence from thousands of studies around the world going back a century or more.

Some readers haven’t.

The mailbag and inbox at the Los Angeles Times is also stuffed with climate science denial, but letters editor Paul Thornton has revealed that correspondence claiming there’s no evidence that humans cause global warming will no longer be printed. If Des Moore lived in LA, he’d have to take his thoughts elsewhere.  In a recent column, Thornton wrote:

Simply put, I do my best to keep errors of fact off the letters page; when one does run, a correction is published. Saying “there’s no sign humans have caused climate change” is not stating an opinion, it’s asserting a factual inaccuracy.

Thornton’s decision could well leave a few editors wondering if they should follow suit. Julie Lewis, who is the co-editor of the Sydney Morning Herald’s letters page, for example, told me by email she is planning to ask that newspapers’ readers what they think about such letters being published.

Letters pages occupy prime real estate in printed newspapers. You could see the decision of the LA Times a few ways, depending on how you see the role of newspaper letters pages.

If we see them as a place where statements of fact need to backed by evidence, which Paul Thornton and the LA Times clearly does, then it’s hard to argue against banning letters claiming there’s no evidence for human caused climate change.

But if you see the letters pages of newspapers as a reflection of what the community of readers believe – which presumably some newspaper editors do – then it’s clearly OK to run views by readers who find it hard, for whatever reason, to accept the existence of mountains of evidence.

Letters pages usually sit side-by-side in modern newspapers with opinion columns, and both these spaces have been targeted by climate sceptics over the years. In 2011, one climate sceptic group the International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC) revealed in a strategy document that they purposefully targeted these pages. The document stated:

The letters to the editor section is the most frequently read part of many newspapers, aside from the front page, so letter submissions are a worthwhile activity for ICSC. Regional newspapers publish about 10% of letters received from the public, with a typical paper receiving about 100 or more letters a day.

Now climate science denial organisations would not be alone in encouraging members to write letters to newspapers. Plenty of environmental groups no doubt do the same, and it’s up to editors to decide if they want to play a part in that or not.

One Australian study, published in the journal Rural Society, looked at the content run by newspapers around the publication of Heaven + Earth – a book written by Australian climate science denier and mining company director Professor Ian Plimer.

The study, titled “Duelling realities“, analysed 48 items from 13 rural newspapers and found half of the coverage of the book came in the form of readers’ letters.

“Climate change is not man-made,” said one letter in The Kalgoorlie Miner. “We can ponder the way the world has been fooled into thinking that climate change is man made,” wrote a Newcastle Herald reader. A letter in The Townsville Bulletin described human-caused climate change as a “scam”.

Study author Elaine McKewon, of the University of Technology Sydney, told me:

The LA Times policy would certainly have excluded most of the letters in my study, because they repeated the same unsupported scientific claims and conspiracy theories used by climate change deniers around the world. It is patently untrue that there is no evidence that human activity is the main driver of global warming. The first commitment of the news media should be to truth and accuracy. So I think this decision is laudable and I hope it gives other mainstream media outlets the courage to stop appeasing the climate denial noise machine. In the scientific community, the debate about anthropogenic global warming has been over for decades. The scientific consensus on climate change is as strong as the consensus on human evolution or the link between smoking and cancer.

McKewon argues the LA Times’ decision shouldn’t be dismissed as unwelcome censorship.

This is not about censorship or free speech. Keeping errors of fact out of the newspaper is what responsible editors do. The letters page is there to enable readers to engage in valid, meaningful public debate. Pseudoscience and misinformation serve only to create false scientific controversy. It is not the role of the news media to provide a platform for claims that were refuted long ago in the scientific literature.

Away from the letters pages, the US magazine Popular Science announced last month it was going to take away the ability of readers to comment on its stories online, because of concerns that “trolls and spambots” could “skew” their readers’ understanding of the issues being covered. In a story justifying the move, Popular Science‘s online content director Suzanne LaBarre wrote:

A politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics. Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again. Scientific certainty is just another thing for two people to “debate” on television. And because comments sections tend to be a grotesque reflection of the media culture surrounding them, the cynical work of undermining bedrock scientific doctrine is now being done beneath our own stories, within a website devoted to championing science.

Editors are obviously in a difficult position.

Moderating comments on stories takes time (I know this myself, after moderating more than 10,000 comments on an environment blog I used to write for News Ltd). Guardian columnist George Monbiot has written how companies specialise in creating fake online identities in order to target comment threads.

If a newspaper or other media outlet is publishing content which it knows is factually questionable or demonstrably wrong, does it have a responsibility to keep such pseudo-science statements off its pages?

While we ponder that, I’m off to check my horoscope – courtesy of the LA Times and hundreds of other mainstream newspapers around the world. Alternatively, I offer an excerpt from another “Letter to the Editor”, also printed in The Australian earlier this week:

“What’s the difference between a computer and a global warming denier? You only have to punch information into a computer once.” Chris Roylance, Paddington, Queensland

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/planet-oz/2013/oct/16/climate-change-letters-editor-newspapers-denial-sceptics

Official: US Could Increase Scale of Syria Strikes / Longer engagement, and use of Air Force Bombers

Sep. 8, 2013 – 11:49AM   |
By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE   |
DESERT STORM

A BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missile is launched from its Mark 41 vertical launch system aboard the Destroyer USS FIFE (DD-991) during Operation Desert Storm. War planners aim to unleash a heavy barrage of missile strikes, followed swiftly by additional attacks on targets that may have been missed or remain standing, the Los Angeles Times cited officials as saying.   (Defense Department)
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WASHINGTON — The scale and purpose of the operation against Syria has not changed in recent weeks, although US forces would adjust as needed, a defense official told AFP.

“We will continue to review our targeting and targeting options as the Syrian government adapts over time,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“We are working to the same objective that President (Barack) Obama has outlined,” he insisted, responding to a report in the Los Angeles Times Sunday

The strikes against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in retaliation for what the US says is the regime’s use of chemical weapons in a Damascus suburb, could last longer than a day, officials have said.

The Los Angeles Times had reported Sunday the Pentagon was readying more intense and longer attacks on Syria than originally planned, set to last three days.

War planners now aim to unleash a heavy barrage of missile strikes to be followed swiftly by additional attacks on targets that may have been missed or remain standing after the initial launch, the Times cited officials as saying.

Two US officers told the newspaper that the White House asked for an expanded target list to include “many more” than the initial list of around 50 targets.

The move is part of an effort to obtain additional firepower to damage Assad’s dispersed forces.

The top US military officer, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, told lawmakers last week there would be an “initial” set of targets and then a secondary list of targets.

Dempsey suggested American forces would be able to shift strike plans even as the Syrian regime attempts to disperse equipment.

Pentagon planners are now considering using Air Force bombers, as well as five US missile destroyers currently patrolling the eastern Mediterranean Sea, to launch cruise missiles and air-to-surface missiles from far out of range of Syrian air defenses, according to the newspaper report.

The USS Nimitz aircraft carrier strike group with one cruiser and three destroyers positioned in the Read Sea can also fire cruise missiles at Syria.

“There will be several volleys and an assessment after each volley, but all within 72 hours and a clear indication when we are done,” an officer familiar with the planning told the Times.

The intensified military planning comes as Obama prepares to personally make his case to the American people and further press reluctant lawmakers on the need for action after Assad allegedly used chemical weapons on his own people last month.

Obama is scheduled to tape interviews Monday with anchors of the three major broadcast networks, as well as with PBS, CNN and Fox News.

The interviews, to air that night, will precede Obama’s address to the nation Tuesday ahead of an expected full Senate vote.

The president favors a limited attack with only a reduced number of warplanes to drop bombs over Syria, according to the Times.

Amid doubts a limited US offensive would sufficiently hamper Assad’s military capabilities, one officer told the newspaper the planned operation would amount to a “show of force” over several days that would not fundamentally change the situation on the ground.

The planned US strike “will not strategically impact the current situation in the war, which the Syrians have well in hand, though fighting could go on for another two years,” another US officer said.

http://www.defensenews.com/article/20130908/DEFREG02/309080004/Official-US-Could-Increase-Scale-Syria-Strikes

Homeland Security secretary Napolitano resigns for senior post at CU

Janet Napolitano, the U.S. secretary of Homeland Security and former governor of Arizona, is being named as the next president of the University of California system, in an unusual choice that brings a national-level politician to a position usually held by an academic.

Napolitano’s nomination by a committee of UC regents came after a secretive process that insiders said focused on her early as a high-profile, although untraditional, candidate who has led large public agencies and shown a strong interest in improving education.

Napolitano, who is a Democrat, was appointed by former President Clinton as the U.S. attorney in Arizona and then won elections as state attorney general and twice as governor, a position she held from 2003 to 2009. President Obama then named her to lead Homeland Security, an agency with an annual $60-billion budget and 240,000 employees.

She has been a strong voice in favor of immigration reform that would provide a path to citizenship for those in the country illegally, a stance that has angered some Republicans who contend she has not done enough to secure the nation’s borders.

Voice of Russia, LA Times

http://english.ruvr.ru/news/2013_07_12/Homeland-Security-secretary-Napolitano-resigns-for-senior-post-at-CU-9811/

 

Top IRS official will invoke the Fifth Amendment in congressional hearing about tea party targeting program

By  David Martosko

PUBLISHED: 16:14 EST, 21 May  2013 |  UPDATED: 16:51  EST, 21 May 2013

 

The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday  afternoon that Lois Lerner, who heads up the Internal Revenue Service’s  tax-exempt division, plans to invoke the Fifth Amendment to the U.S.  Constitution in a hearing Wednesday before the House Committee on Oversight and  Government Affairs.

The Fifth Amendment provides that U.S.  citizens may not be compelled to offer testimony if telling the truth would  incriminate them.

Lerner’s defense lawyer, William W. Taylor  III, wrote to the committee on Tuesday that his client would refuse to answer  questions related to what she knew about the extra levels of scrutiny applied to  conservative nonprofit organizations that applied for tax-exempt status  beginning in 2010.

Lois Lerner heads the IRS's Exempt Organizations division. Her lawyer says she will plead the Fifth Amendment on Wednesday to avoid answering questions about her agency's tea party scandal during a congressional hearing 

Lois Lerner heads the IRS’s Exempt Organizations  division. Her lawyer says she will plead the Fifth Amendment on Wednesday to  avoid answering questions about her agency’s tea party scandal during a  congressional hearing

IRS headquarters in Washington, D.C. is fast becoming the epicenter of the tea party probe, despite an Inspector General report that focused on employees in Cincinnati, Ohio 

IRS headquarters in Washington, D.C. is fast becoming  the epicenter of the tea party probe, despite an Inspector General report that  focused on employees in Cincinnati, Ohio

She also will decline to say why she didn’t  disclose what she knew to Congress, according to the LA  Times.

Lerner ‘has not committed any crime or made  any misrepresentation,’ Taylor’s  letter read, ‘but under the circumstances she  has no choice but to take  this course.’

He is asking the oversight committee to  excuse Lerner from testifying, claiming that calling her in a congressional  hearing would ‘have no purpose other than to embarrass or burden her’ since  members would not expect her to answer questions.

 

Ahmad Ali, a committee spokesman, told  MailOnline that ‘Ms. Lerner remains under subpoena from Chairman Issa to appear  at tomorrow’s hearing – the Committee has a Constitutional obligation to conduct  oversight.’

‘Chairman [Darrel] Issa remains hopeful that  she will ultimately decide to testify tomorrow about her knowledge of outrageous  IRS targeting of Americans for their political beliefs.’

The IRS applied special criteria to  conservative organizations seeking tax-exempt status, putting them on a ‘Be On  The Lookout’ (BOLO) list, based on the groups’ names and political  philosophies.

President Barack Obama has said he was  unaware of the program until May 10, when excerpts of an IRS Inspector General  Report on the practice were leaked to reporters.

Jay Carney, the Obama administration's designated flak-catcher, insists that the president didn't know about the IRS targeting tea party groups until he learned about it during a TV news broadcast 

Jay Carney, the Obama administration’s designated  flak-catcher, insists that the president didn’t know about the IRS targeting tea  party groups until he learned about it during a TV news broadcast

But Jay Carney, the president’s chief  spokesman, confirmed Monday that senior White House staff, including White House  Counsel Kathy Ruemmler and Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, knew about the IRS’s  habits as early as April 24, and chose not to tell Obama.

The Inspector General report found that  Lerner and other IRS were notified in or before June 2011 that some staff in the  agency’s Cincinnati, Ohio office were using ‘tea party,’ ‘patriots’ and other  key words to add applicants to the BOLO list.

Once on that list, the groups were subjected  to additional auditing of their financial practices, their membership and their  political activities.

Despite knowing about the program, Lerner and  other senior IRS staffers withheld the information from Congress despite  receiving several requests from House committees whose members heard from  constituents that their tea party groups’ tax-exempt approvals were taking as  long as two years to be resolved.

The House Oversight and Government Affairs  Committee was among those that specifically asked the IRS whether it was  inspecting tea party groups more closely than other applicants, including those  on the political left.

Under mounting pressure, President Barack Obama announced Wednesday in the East Room of the White House that acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller would be stepping down 

Under mounting pressure, President Barack Obama  announced May 15 in the East Room of the White House that acting IRS  Commissioner Steven Miller would be stepping down. It emerged hours later,  however, that Miller’s term as acting commissioner was already scheduled to end  in early June

Lerner herself launched her agency’s scandal  with a planted question-and-answer exchange during a May 10 American Bar  Association conference.

Asked the pre-arranged question, Lerner  responded by conceding that her employees had acted inappropriately.

‘Instead of referring to the cases as  advocacy cases, they actually used case names on this list,’ she told the  assembled tax lawyers.

‘They used names like “tea party” or  “Patriots,” and they selected cases simply because the applications had those  names in the title.That was wrong. That was absolutely incorrect, insensitive,  and inappropriate — that’s not how we go about selecting cases for further  review.’

She later claimed that the increase in  scrutiny of tea party groups was due to an influx of new applications from  right-wing organizations, following the Supreme Court’s ‘Citizens United’  ruling, which opened the floodgates to greater political participation by  nonprofit advocacy groups.

The Washington Post called that claim bogus,  however, with the newspaper’s fact checker awarding it a ‘four Pinocchios’  rating for dishonesty.

FOUR PINOCCHIOS: 'Between 2010 and 2012, we started seeing a very big uptick in the number of 501(c)(4) applications we were receiving,' Lerner claimed, but the Washington Post determined that wasn't true. 

FOUR PINOCCHIOS: ‘Between 2010 and 2012, we started  seeing a very big uptick in the number of 501(c)(4) applications we were  receiving,’ Lerner claimed, but the Washington Post determined that wasn’t  true.

Lerner’s boss, acting IRS commissioner Steven  Miller, was relieved of his post by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew last week,  although the term of his appointment to the job was already scheduled to end in  early June.

Other higher-ups inside the IRS have not been  publicly held accountable for the improper targeting of conservative  organizations.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2328696/Lois-Lerner-Top-IRS-official-invoke-Fifth-Amendment-congressional-hearing-tea-party-targeting-program.html#ixzz2TzwVWrCw Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Mayor of small city was ‘too stupid and uneducated’ to know his $100k salary was illegal, his lawyer argues

By  Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 20:21 EST, 21  February 2013 |  UPDATED: 20:26 EST, 21 February 2013

 

The former mayor of Bell, California, was too  stupid and uneducated to know his $100,000 salary for the part-time city job was  illegal, his lawyer argued today.

Oscar Hernandez is illiterate, has no high  school degree and didn’t even finish elementary school, defense attorney Stanley  Friedmand told jurors.

Hernandez and five former members of the Bell City Council are on trial, accused of stealing $1.3million in exorbitant pay from the working-class city of 35,000.

'Too dumb to know better': The lawyer for former Bell, California, Mayor Oscar Hernandez said his client is illiterate and uneducated and didn't know his $100,000 salary was illegal 

‘Too dumb to know better’: The lawyer for former Bell,  California, Mayor Oscar Hernandez said his client is illiterate and uneducated  and didn’t know his $100,000 salary was illegal

All six elected officials drew salaries of up  to $100,000 for serving on boards that seldom met and accomplished  little.

Defense lawyers painted the officials as  ignorant pawns of city manager Robert Rizzo and city attorney Edward Lee, who  both advised them that massive pay raises were legal.

The attorneys for the former officials also  blamed the city’s financial advisory firm, which never advised the town to pare  back the salaries, they say.

Deputy District Attorney Edward Miller,  though, said the officials all had important jobs in the community before their  election. They weren’t daft or pawns – just greedy, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Hernandez owned a grocery store. Former  council member Teresa Jacobo was a real estate agent and former councilman  George Mirabal had worked as a city clerk.

In cuffs: Robert Rizzo, former city manager, Angela Spaccia, former assistant city manager, Victor Bello, former council member and Oscar Hernandez, mayor, were all arrested as part of a corruption investigation 

In cuffs: Robert Rizzo, former city manager, Angela  Spaccia, former assistant city manager, Victor Bello, former council member and  Oscar Hernandez, mayor, were all arrested as part of a corruption  investigation

‘They just weren’t “yes men,” except when it  came to pay raises for themselves,’ Mr Miller told jurors.

The officials are accused of appointing each  other to boards, some of which met only once a year, in order to skirt public  pay laws.

In the midst of the recession, the officials  were earning $100,000 from the city – three and a half times the median income  of the citizens they were elected to represent.

The average salary for part-time elected  officials at other California cities of similar size was $4,800.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2282634/Mayor-small-city-stupid-uneducated-know-100k-salary-illegal-lawyer-argues.html#ixzz2LbSAAW4h Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Ammo supplier Brownells sells 3 1/2 years of AR-15 magazines in 72 hours

Ammo supplier Brownells says sales of 3 1/2 years of magazines in 72 hours a response to stricter gun control.

December 26, 2012 12:04

Ar 15 2012 12 26 1024x683

An AR-15 Dec. 18, 2012 in Miami, FA. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
What do you think?

Amid fears of stricter US gun control laws, the world’s largest supplier of firearms accessories claims it has sold 3 1/2 years of ammunition magazines for the AR-15 assault rifle in just three days.

Brownells Inc. made the claim in a statement attributed to company President Pete Brownell on gun owner forum AR15.com.

 

Gunman Adam Lanza is said to have used an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle when he went on a shooting spree Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, killing 20 first-graders and six adults before turning the gun on himself. He also killed his mother.

In the gun owner forum post, Brownell said he and his staff “absolutely apologize” for an order backlog on the company’s website, adding “we’re working like crazy to get these orders to you as quickly as possible.”

 

“The demand for magazines actually exceeded the ability for the system to keep up with the volume that was being ordered,” he wrote, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Brownell didn’t speculate on what’s causing the spike in demand.

However, some U.S. gun sellers report an uptick in sales following calls by President Barack Obama and other Democrats to renew a ban on assault weapons, the New York Daily News reported.

“They’ve been off the charts. Absolutely skyrocketing,” Chuck Nesby, a firearms instructor in Falls Church, Virginia, told ABC News. “If I could give an award to President Obama and Sen. Feinstein, (they) would be salesperson of the year.”

 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/121226/brownells-sells-3-half-years-ar-15-magazines-3-days

Facebook and Twitter more tempting than sex: study

Technology Oct. 07, 2012 – 06:40AM JST( 7 )

SAN FRANCISCO —

A study arousing interest online has found that checking Facebook or Twitter is more alluring than sex for those immersed in Internet Age lifestyles.

The week-long poll conducted in Germany by the University of Chicago Booth School of Business classified checking social network tweets, pictures, comments and other posts as stronger than sex and cigarettes in terms of temptation.

“Desires for media may be comparatively harder to resist because of their high availability and also because it feels like it does not cost much to engage in these activities, even though one wants to resist,” Wilhelm Hofmann, the study’s lead author, told the Los Angeles Times.

People ranging in age from 18 to 85 took part in the poll by using smartphones to regularly update researchers regarding their cravings to check in with online communities.

Study participants were also asked to track hankerings for sex, alcohol, cigarettes, or other gratification.

Yearnings for fixes of Facebook, Twitter or other social networks were ranked as the hardest desires to resist, according to reports about the findings.

The study also revealed that work was a fierce addiction.

People able to stave off urges for sex, shopping sprees, or other temptations tended to cave when it came to working, the study showed.

http://www.japantoday.com/category/technology/view/facebook-and-twitter-more-tempting-than-sex-study