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Author Topic: YOUR GOVERNMENT AT WORK  (Read 46020 times)
nChrist
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« Reply #30 on: February 17, 2008, 04:44:03 PM »

It's very sad to see BIG MONEY at work and what it can buy. We can definitely see that MONEY definitely is the root of many EVILS. The irony is that the money being used to push GOD out is our money that we spent for oil. As it turns out, the COSTS for obtaining this oil was much more than just MONEY. MONEY was just a small part of the COST.

Brothers and Sisters, it wasn't worth it. We would have been better off WALKING. We could have developed other modes of transportation not involving OIL, and we should have. I don't think that many of us knew what our money was financing until just recently. NOW we know, but we've done almost nothing to develop other sources of energy and other modes of transportation.
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« Reply #31 on: February 20, 2008, 12:43:38 PM »

Info sought on secret IRS deal with Scientology
'Position represents unconstitutional favoritism of one religious group over another'

A federal appeals court is being asked to tell the Internal Revenue Service to open up a secret deal with the Church of Scientology that reportedly allows members to deduct certain educational, or "auditing," expenses, a benefit denied members of other faiths in the United States.

The report comes from the American Bar Association Journal, which outlined the situation involving a case pending before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in California.

The appellants in the case at hand, in which a decision hasn't been released yet, Michael and Marla Sklar, are Orthodox Jews who took deductions for some of the private religious school tuition they paid for their children, the report said, as well as after-school classes in Jewish law.

The IRS disallowed the deductions multiple times, and a first case was closed, even though "the agency meanwhile reportedly has allowed members of the Church of Scientology, under a 1993 settlement agreement, to take substantial deductions for 'religious training and services.'"

The Journal report said the judges on the 9th Circuit panel, now hearing a second appeal from the same family, "appeared sympathetic to the couple's claim that the federal agency isn't treating members of all religious groups fairly concerning charitable deductions for educational expenses."

The report said the IRS settlement with Scientologists is confidential, but it was reported by the Wall Street Journal in 1997. Now the Sklars are seeking access to the document to substantiate their own claim that their educational deductions are similar, and valid.

"The IRS contends that the settlement agreement is a private matter, and says that it involves religious training rather than the kind of religious education for children that is at issue in the Sklars' case," the report said. "However, their counsel argues the IRS position represents unconstitutional favoritism of one religious group over another, in violation of the Establishment Clause."

The report said Judge Kim Wardlaw noted during arguments that the issue "does intrude into the Establishment Clause," and that the "bottom line"' is whether the IRS has, in fact, agreed to treat members of one religious group differently from members of another group.

"Even if the IRS did discriminate by allowing the Scientology training deductions, that doesn't necessarily mean that the Sklars will get to take similar education deductions," concluded the report. "'Then the proper course of action is a lawsuit to [put a] stop to that policy,' explains a concurring judge in the 9th Circuit's 2002 written opinion on the Sklars' earlier case."

The New York Times reported under the "officially secret" agreement, Scientologists "can deduct the cost of religious education as a charitable gift," and the question at hand is whether members of other religious groups will be allowed to do the same.

The Times reported the judges in the original dispute concluded "it appears to be true" Scientologists have been given preferential tax treatment.

In that case, Judge Barry Silverman asked, "'Why is Scientology training different from all other religious training?'' There was no answer, he wrote, because the court wasn't faced with the question of whether "members of the Church of Scientology have become the IRS's chosen people."

Church spokeswoman Monique E. Yingling told the Times the 1993 agreement gave Scientologists charitable tax deductions.

"Scientologists now are being treated the same as everyone else, Catholics, Mormons, Hindus," she told the newspaper. "Auditing and training are both Scientology religious services." She said members participate in those to advance in the religion founded by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard.

Sklar, however, said that is his case: that there's no difference between services Scientologists cite for their deductions and the religious training his children get at two Hebrew schools.

The Sklars also said the IRS as much as admitted their contentions, because when the Sklars attempted to take the deduction the IRS sent them letters explaining the terms for Scientologists to take such deductions, but then disallowed theirs because they didn't provide receipts from the Church of Scientology.

"If the government is allowed to do this unchallenged, it means you have a state-favored religion, and that has never fared well for the Jews," Sklar told the newspaper.

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nChrist
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« Reply #32 on: February 20, 2008, 01:35:17 PM »

UM?

SICKENING!

If Scientology is a church, so are Star Trek fans.
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« Reply #33 on: February 20, 2008, 10:14:49 PM »

Stupid is as stupid does: House OKs climate blueprint to set limits on greenhouse gases

House lawmakers have approved Gov. Christine Gregoire's plan to set limits on Washington's greenhouse-gas emissions, another step in the state's long-term drive to curb the causes of climate change.

The measure, which also directs the state to add 25,000 "green collar" jobs by 2020, was the last bill to clear the House by Tuesday's deadline for policy measures. The 64-31 vote sends the bill to the Senate for further consideration.

During debate, Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, said lawmakers had a choice: Try to seize control of climate-changing emissions by approving the bill or "sit and do nothing, and suffer the consequences of inaction and the status quo."

Republicans, however, bridled at the bill's strict emission limits and the possible effect on business. Even GOP supporters like Rep. Glenn Anderson, R-Fall City, criticized what they saw as a heavy-handed approach by government.

"If we jam it down their throats, we will lose both the confidence of the citizenry and we will not accomplish the changes that we need to help our planet," Anderson said.

The bill builds on work already started by the Legislature and Gregoire's Climate Advisory Team.

It has five major points, led by orders for the state Ecology Department to make dramatic cuts in Washington's greenhouse-gas emissions. The agency's eventual blueprint would have to curb emissions by 70 percent of expected levels in 2050.

Ecology regulators also would set up an emissions-reporting system, for industries that annually produce 10,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases and vehicle fleets that emit at least 2,500 metric tons per year. The first reports would be due in 2010, with deferrals possible for interstate-transport businesses.

At the same time, the Transportation Department would set up recommendations for cutting in half the annual per-capita vehicle miles traveled by 2050.

The green-jobs initiative would set up a special state account giving grants for training and other programs to encourage clean-energy businesses.

Washington officials also would be authorized to work with the Western Climate Initiative, a partnership of six states and two Canadian provinces, in developing a regional cap-and-trade system aimed at reducing greenhouse-gas emissions across the West.

The bill's definition of greenhouse gases includes carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. Such gases essentially trap energy from the sun, which warms the Earth's surface and lower atmosphere. Many scientists believe human activity that increases those gases is contributing to global warming.

K.C. Golden, policy director for the environmental group Climate Solutions, said some of the state's existing environmental initiatives are enough to get the state about halfway to its goal of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

While the bill approved in the House on Tuesday doesn't offer solutions for meeting the larger reduction standards, it offers a way forward, he said.

"It's about charting the course, making a good, strong legal commitment to get it done," Golden said.
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« Reply #34 on: February 20, 2008, 10:17:38 PM »

Stupid is as stupid does: Pollution bill


Pollution bill attacked

Effort to slow global warming carries high price, critics say

O'Malley administration officials said yesterday they don't yet know how they would achieve the governor's ambitious goal of cutting global-warming pollution by 90 percent by 2050.

But representatives of Maryland's only steel mill, the Domino Sugar factory in Baltimore and a paper mill in Western Maryland warned of closings or dire financial losses if the state passes a law with some of the nation's toughest limits on carbon dioxide.

"That plant is not going to survive," said Gene Burner, lobbyist for the ArcelorMittal steel plant at Sparrows Point, which employs 2,500 workers. "In order to make steel, you have to produce carbon dioxide. ... The only way to limit carbon dioxide is not to make it."

Gov. Martin O'Malley held a news conference to announce his support for legislation to cap greenhouse gas emissions on all industries, following laws in California, New Jersey, Washington, Oregon, Minnesota and Hawaii.

The law would use financial rewards and punishments - as well as voluntary energy efficiency programs - to cut greenhouse gas pollution by 25 percent by 2020 and by 90 percent by 2050.

Environmentalists, scientists, public health experts and alternative energy companies also pledged their support for the Global Warming Solutions Act during a Senate hearing yesterday. The supporters argue that state limits are necessary to spur federal action and will help to prevent deadly floods and economic chaos brought by climate change.

O'Malley and other proponents of the bill, sponsored by Sen. Paul Pinsky and Del. Kumar P. Barve, argue that the bill could boost the state's economy by adding jobs in the solar, wind and alternative-energy fields.

"The era of fossil fuels and the damage that they have done to the planet and the air we breathe, that era has to become an era of the past," O'Malley said at the news conference, flanked by environmental advocates.

The bill sets aggressive targets but doesn't say which industries should cut pollution or by how much. The language doesn't specify what technologies businesses should use instead of burning coal and oil, or how homeowners and commuters might be affected.

Instead, the proposal gives broad authority to the Maryland Department of the Environment to impose a series of regulations that could affect all sectors of the economy - including transportation, housing and power.

State Secretary of the Environment Shari T. Wilson conceded during a hearing on the bill yesterday that that her agency doesn't know how the state would reach the goals or if the technology even exists yet.

"It is clear that a lot of innovation and new programs would be needed to meet that goal," Wilson said. "But we are talking about 42 years in the future. And if you look over the last 42 years, at the kind of innovations that have taken place ... the goals are realistic."

As early steps toward fighting global warming, the O'Malley administration is proposing to require power companies to buy more electricity from wind farms and other renewable energy sources. The administration also wants to encourage customers to use 15 percent less electricity by 2015.

The O'Malley administration offered amendments to Pinsky's bill yesterday that would give the state the option of using "cap and trade" systems to cut pollution from a variety of sectors.

"Cap and trade" programs are systems that impose fees on businesses that pollute over a fixed limit and send cash to cleaner industries.

An analysis by the state Department of Legislative Services also says that the financial burden on businesses would be "meaningful." Costs "could increase significantly" for businesses because of new state fees on carbon dioxide emissions.

This uncertainty about the new regulations infuriated business representatives and some Republicans yesterday, who said state residents shouldn't be asked to take a leap of faith at a time of economic uncertainty.

John Holt, president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Unions Local 1900 in Largo, which represents 1,700 power plant and electrical system workers in the state, predicted that the law could shut down power plants.

"They have basically said, 'Trust us: We won't lose any revenues and we won't lose any jobs,'" Holt said of the bill's sponsors.

State Sen. Andy Harris, a Republican, said the bill could impose fees up to $250 million a year on electric plants.

"That's a pretty high energy tax when our rate payers are already paying high taxes," Harris said.

Former California Environmental Protection Agency Secretary Terry Tamminen said costs for most customers and businesses would go down because regulations created by the state would encourage conservation. Tamminen said per capita energy consumption in California dropped 40 percent during the past decade because of its regulations.
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« Reply #35 on: February 20, 2008, 11:13:50 PM »

This is insane. They would have done more important work by staying home and playing tiddly-winks. I haven't heard yet, but I'll guess that they left the important work of protecting the country against terrorists attacks undone.

Who's going to get the solar activity under control? I suggest that we send Al Gore and make him pay penalties and additional taxes during times of increased solar activity. His bill should be based on additional thermal units reaching any portion of the entire earth. Al's already an expert in this area, so I think his responsibilities, taxes, and penalties should start right now. Al, you do your part - and we'll do our part. Al, you can start by using only a bicycle for transportation and turning off the electricity in all of your monstrous mansions. The limo and jets are parked.
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« Reply #36 on: February 21, 2008, 08:11:18 AM »

This is insane. They would have done more important work by staying home and playing tiddly-winks. I haven't heard yet, but I'll guess that they left the important work of protecting the country against terrorists attacks undone.



That's exactly what they did do. They left the bill for homeland security untouched.

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« Reply #37 on: February 21, 2008, 11:11:18 AM »

States to take budget hit from rebates
'It is going to have a big impact'

A report from the House Finance Committee in Colorado's Legislature is estimating that the economic stimulus package signed by President Bush, and expected to put checks in taxpayers' hands in May, will cost that state about $54 million alone.

"It is going to have a big impact, in particular on the capital development projects," Rep. Joel Judd, D-Denver, chairman of the committee, told the Denver Post.

And Michael Bird, the federal affairs counsel for the National Conference of State Legislatures, said such impacts may be hitting many states, because a large number have similar taxing structures.

President Bush had promised when he signed the legislation allowing the tax rebate checks to be distributed that the program was "large enough to have an impact, amounting to more than $152 billion this year, or about 1 percent of the [gross domestic product]."

The goal of the government's plan is to prevent a recession, or mitigate the impact of one. Taxpayers are to get checks, as will disabled veterans and some senior citizens.

The plan also includes tax breaks for businesses that purchase equipment.

It took less than four weeks for the plan to be moved through Congress, and its specifics include generally $600 to individual taxpayers, $1,200 to married taxpayers filing joint returns as long as they are below income caps of $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for couples, and a $300 per child credit.

According to CNN, most economists agree the economy "should" see a boost, but they expect the impact will be less than the total value of the package, primarily because some people are expected to save the money or use it to pay down already existing bills instead of making additional purchases.

David Wyss, of Standard & Poor's, told CNN his guess is that "about half will go to U.S. products and services."

Bird was more modest in his expectations of an impact, especially for state economies that historically lag behind the federal economy when recovering from a recession. He told WND he expects only a fraction of the total would be put into the economy and be subject to sales taxes.

"The most the states are going to see is about $5 billion collectively," he said. And some of what states otherwise might see could be offset if they don't act quickly to disallow some of the credits the federal plan includes.

He said the impact on the states will come because many states simply align their income tax collection to the federal system, allowing only certain additions or deductions.

With billions being deducted from federal taxes by businesses purchasing equipment, that revenue also will be lost to individual states unless they come up with a way to deal with it, he said.

He said the additional money distributed to taxpayers in most state cases won't be counted, or taxed, as income. And even the sales tax revenue will be limited because a number of recipients are expected to manage their rebates by saving it, or paying down previously acquired bills, which would mean whatever sales tax revenue trickles down would have already done so.

He said even if $5 billion comes to states, state budget officers have estimated the collective state budgets' deficit for next year to be $35 billion already.

Thirdly, he said it is a problem that the United States did not have the money to give out. And he said an additional complication is that much of the money that will be used for consumer goods will end up in China, or Korea, or Japan.

"It will be good for their economies, not ours," he said.

In Colorado, officials were worried about the federal tax breaks being allowed both businesses and individuals.

"What you owe Colorado is based on what you owe the federal government," said the Post report, "so the less paid to Uncle Sam, the less paid to Colorado."

The report said 35 other states also would see declines in revenue because of the package, according to the Center of Budget Policy and Priorities, of Washington, D.C.

The Colorado legislative staff said the package will cost Colorado $20.5 million in the current fiscal year, ending in June, and another $33.6 million in the year beginning in July.

The NCSL had suggested, instead of direct rebates, Congress authorize grants to states, state Medicaid assistance, child support enforcement payments, food stamp help, unemployment benefits, and capital projects, and if tax credits were used, to accelerate the scheduled increase in the child tax credit.

In Colorado, lawmakers said it was impossible to say exactly what projects may have to be deleted, but among the options is a science building on a Denver campus, building repairs at a community college and various projects at the University of Colorado.

Sen. John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, said the stimulus package might be good from a federal perspective, but not from the state's.

On the newspaper's forum, however, taxpayers were wasting no sympathy on the state's situation.

"Better in our pockets than in the state government's," wrote claude long. "Oh, wait! Did they say $54 million short??? We'd better jack up car registrations by $300 and get the foolish voters to pass another Ref. C kind of tax increase. Never mind that the state government wastes TONS of money. They should hit up the taxpayers first."
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« Reply #38 on: February 22, 2008, 09:11:11 AM »

House Majority Shuts Down House GOP’s Earmark Reform Website

House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) today blasted the Majority’s decision to shut down the House Republicans’ earmark reform website, http://www.earmarkreform.house.gov. Boehner last summer requested to secure the web address and gained approval from the office of U.S. House of Representatives Chief Administrative Officer Daniel Beard to launch the site in an August 18, 2007 letter.

Earlier this month, House Republicans launched the website to serve as a hub for news and information regarding House GOP efforts to hold the Majority to its promises to fundamentally overhaul the taxpayer-funded earmark system. Throughout the year, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and her Democratic colleagues have rejected House Republican calls for an immediate moratorium on all taxpayer-funded earmarks.

Boehner wrote to Beard this afternoon, questioning his sudden decision to shut down the earmark reform website.

“I am writing today to register my protest over this belated change, and to request a detailed explanation of the events that led your office to make this dramatic reversal,” wrote Boehner. “Changing its address now will inevitably hamper the effectiveness of the new website, much to the convenience of the majority that runs the House.”

“[The] reversal comes just days after an independent report revealed that the freshman Democratic class in the House has been ‘showered in pork’ by the leaders of the current majority,” he continued. “[The] reversal comes just weeks after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) – who as leader of the Democrat-controlled House has the power to shut down the earmark process in our chamber immediately – declined to join me and more than 150 other House members in supporting a total moratorium on all earmarks.”

The full text of Boehner’s letter to Beard:

    The Honorable Daniel P. Beard

    Chief Administrative Officer

    U.S. House of Representatives

    Washington, DC 20515-6860

    Dear Mr. Beard:

    On Tuesday, February 12, 2008 I launched a new website, www.earmarkreform.house.gov, to serve as a clearinghouse for information on efforts to win bipartisan support in the House for a total moratorium on all taxpayer-funded earmarks. Since then, www.earmarkreform.house.gov has welcomed thousands of visitors and been mentioned prominently in many media and blog articles on efforts to change the earmark process and end wasteful pork-barrel spending in Congress.

    On August 18, 2007, I was pleased to receive a letter from your office informing me that my office had been approved for use of the domain name www.earmarkreform.house.gov along with a second name I had requested for a separate, unrelated project. (“These domain names are ready for your use and we are standing by to initiate them,” stated the letter, a copy of which is attached.) I was surprised, then, to receive an e-mail message from your office on February 21, 2008 – nearly two weeks after the successful public debut of the new website – stating that www.earmarkreform.house.gov must be shut down and moved to a different location with a different domain name.

    I am writing today to register my protest over this belated change, and to request a detailed explanation of the events that led your office to make this dramatic reversal. Changing its address now will inevitably hamper the effectiveness of the new website, much to the convenience of the majority that runs the House. Two recent developments in particular raise questions about the timing of HIR's reversal:

          · HIR’s reversal comes just days after an independent report revealed that the freshman Democratic class in the House has been “showered in pork” by the leaders of the current majority. According to The Hill, “[House] Democratic leaders have sent tens of millions of dollars to freshman lawmakers’ districts in hope of protecting the party’s newfound majority come November,” ("Dem leaders shower pork on freshmen," February 14, 2008). “Based on figures compiled by the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense. . .House freshmen accounted for $263 million in personal, single-sponsor earmarks. Democratic freshmen accounted for $237 million of that," a CongressDaily report added the same day.

          · HIR’s reversal comes just weeks after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) – who as leader of the Democrat-controlled House has the power to shut down the earmark process in our chamber immediately – declined to join me and more than 150 other House members in supporting a total moratorium on all earmarks.

    The leaders of both parties in the House have discussed the need for greater transparency and “sunshine” in Congress, particularly with respect to the process by which our institution spends taxpayers’ hard-earned money. By serving as a public clearinghouse for real-time information on legislative efforts to reform the earmark practice in Congress, www.earmarkreform.house.gov contributes to this goal and helps to increase accountability in the use of taxpayer funds. Transferring the website to a different address now — nearly two weeks after its successful launch — will inevitably cause confusion for visitors and discourage some from continuing to utilize the website as a regular resource.

    Thank you for your attention to this matter and your consideration of these points. I look forward to your response.

    Sincerely,

    John Boehner

    House Republican Leader

This proves that the current leadership is not interested in making this country fiscally responsible. Nancy Pelosi and her ilk have done nothing to improve the situation. The GOP leadership say they've learned the lesson of 2006. This website that they shutdown today and the corresponding efforts on the floor of the House to put an moratorium on Earmarks makes this case.

Bottom line is that we cannot get control of earmarks with the porkers in charge.

Speaking of which, I think that the Dems need to change their mascot image from an Donkey to a Pig because of all the pork they use to keep control.

Bank on this as well, the MSM will not touch this move by the corrupt majority leadership.

From Roll Call via email from John Boehner's office -

    House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) is protesting a decision by Chief Administrative Officer Dan Beard to shut down a Web site designed to bring attention to the effort to enact earmark reform.

    Boehner launched the Web site, earmarkreform.house.gov, on Feb. 12. The site features news links to articles about earmark reform, along with press releases from Republican leaders calling for reform and a link to Boehner’s leadership Web site.

    The CAO’s office had given Boehner permission to use the domain name in August 2007. But Beard sent Boehner an e-mail message on Feb. 21 informing the Minority Leader that the Web site needed to be shut down and moved to a different location with a different domain name.

    Boehner sent Beard a letter protesting that decision on Thursday afternoon, asking for “a detailed explanation of the events that led your office to make this dramatic reversal.”

    “Changing its address now will inevitably hamper the effectiveness of the new website, much to the convenience of the majority that runs the House,” Boehner writes.

    In the letter, Boehner notes that the decision comes after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) declined to support a Boehner-initiated call for a moratorium on all earmarks. It also comes after reports that out of the $263 million spent by House freshmen on earmarks, $237 million of that was spent by Democratic freshmen, Boehner writes.

    “The leaders of both parties in the House have discussed the need for greater transparency and ‘sunshine’ in Congress, particularly with respect to the process by which our institution spends taxpayers’ hard-earned money,” Boehner writes. “By serving as a public clearinghouse for real-time information on legislative efforts to reform the earmark practice in Congress, www.earmarkreform.gov contributes to this goal and helps to increase accountability in use of taxpayer funds. Transferring the website to a different address now — nearly two weeks after its successful launch — will inevitably cause confusion.”

    A spokesman for Beard said the CAO’s office would respond shortly to Boehner’s letter. - Elizabeth Brotherton, Roll Call Staff
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« Reply #39 on: February 22, 2008, 09:41:49 AM »

Speaker Pelosi and the New York Times' Blind Eye

Since the 2006 Congressional victory by Democrats, The New York Times has ignored a highly questionable situation involving Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi among other leading Democrats, instead focusing on alleged Republican offenses.

On August 2nd, 2007 Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) submitted a bill to the U. S. House of Representatives which raised a potential conflict of interest involving the Speaker's widely publicized family stock holdings, corporate sponsors, and former staffers turned lobbyists. The Speaker submitted the bill called the Early Treatment for HIV Act (ETHA) to the House  with bipartisan support. It would allow states to decide whether or not to extend Medicare benefits for HIV treatment to some currently not covered.

Speaker Pelosi submitted ETHA one day after Medicare officials announced new rules to cut back on significant expenditures for the drugs PROCRIT® made by Johnson & Johnson and EPOGEN® made by Amgen. The new Medicare rules were primarily geared to reduce the use of the drugs for cancer patients. Those pharmaceuticals are used to treat anemia often seen as a side effect of HIV medications and for other conditions. Both companies enjoy massive revenues from the sales of those medicines, with Johnson & Johnson reporting $3.2 billion in earnings from PROCRIT® and a similar drug and Amgen showing $6.5 billion for EPOGEN® and a similar drug during 2006.

Last year Amgen started losing stock value as word of the cuts spread. A press release from Amgen at its' corporate website stated ""Recent changes in coverage rules and adjustments to Amgen's FDA approved labels for EPOGEN(R) and Aranesp have and will adversely affect Amgen's revenue." The company then announced layoffs.

The ETHA bill would increase the number of HIV infected persons able to receive government assistance. A PricewaterhouseCoopers analysis conducted in 2003 estimated that the act would increase eligibility for treatment by 30,000 people. In turn the government purchasing of the anemia medications associated with their treatment will certainly increase, making up some of the difference caused by the planned Medicaid purchasing reductions. In effect, this law could turn things around for Amgen and increase Johnson & Johnson stock values.

Considering that the bill was submitted only one day after the Medicare announcement, some viewed it as a reaction to the new guidelines and an attempt to improve the finances of those two drug makers. Unless Speaker Pelosi has divested herself of certain stocks that she held in 2006 by the time she sponsored ETHA, then she stood to profit from the bill. Inquiries to clarify her holdings have gone without response from her office. In addition she has strong connections to Amgen.

According to the ethics guidelines for the House of Representatives, an elected official must declare perosnal investments and holdings. Those declarations are available online and can be viewed at a website called opensecrets.org. The last declaration on record that covers the calendar year 2006 shows the Speaker owned over $500,000 dollars worth of Johnson & Johnson stock. Such a scenario creates the impression of a conflict of interest.

In addition, her close ties to biotech firm Amgen come into question. Two of her key staffers have left to become lobbyists working for Amgen directly or through lobbying firms. They include George Crawford, described by the San Francisco Chronicle as the Speaker's former chief of staff and Howard Moon, described in a Washington Post article as a former senior policy adviser who was named the government affairs director for Amgen.

In addition, Amgen has supported her campaigns through PAC money and by sponsoring fund raising events. While she does not appear to own stock in Amgen, the timing of the bill raises questions about just how closely she is tied to the company.

Between 2002 and 2006 Amgen became a superstar stock amid soaring price hikes and massive profits. Nancy Pelosi attempted and failed to pass the Early Treatment of HIV Act during that run-up. In 2006 Amgen sponsored a fund raiser for Pelosi.

The Democrats won Congress in 2006 on a pledge to clean up the "culture of corruption" they ascribed to the majority Republicans. In one example, a Republican congressman in 2004 announced that he was considering taking a position with a pharmaceutical lobbying firm after he had negotiated pharmaceutical legislature. Congresswoman Pelosi charged at the time that the move was an "abuse of power".

The pharmaceutical industry was expected to be hit hard as Democrats strove to lower prescription drug prices through government negotiations. Pharmaceutical stocks were expected to fall. Speaker Pelosi herself was viewed by many as a threat to ‘big pharma'. One common investment technique for drawing profit from the markets is to buy when prices fall and sell when they go high again. According to the Speaker's 2006 disclosure she was invested in multiple pharmaceutical and biotech firms that make medications.

This new scandal recalls the early 2007 incident in which the Speaker promoted a minimum wage hike that would include all U.S. areas except American Samoa. Some large companies with canneries in Samoa are headquartered in the Speaker's district. Amgen is a powerhouse in Northern California, with a significant presence in the Speaker's district. That fact mirrors the Samoa controversy in which critics accused Pelosi of playing favorites with her district. And in 2007 it was revealed that the Speaker sponsored a massive earmark that would probably affect the value of property in which her husband was invested.

This summer, under extreme pressure from Congress, led by Pelosi, Medicare dropped its' planned regulation changes. J&J and Amgen stock immediately soared as The New York Times reported:

    Medicare has eased up on some of its proposed restrictions on the use of popular anemia drugs made by Amgen and Johnson & Johnson.

    The decision, announced late yesterday, could provide some relief for the two companies, which have already experienced steep drops in sales of the drugs. [....]

    The federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services had proposed in May to sharply limit coverage for the drugs - Aranesp from Amgen and Procrit from Johnson & Johnson. Some analysts had predicted at that time that use of the drugs could be cut by as much as 50 percent. [....]

    But investors reacted favorably, sending shares of Amgen by more than $2 in early after-hours trading, though it then began to drop back. Shares had closed at $56.19, up 57 cents.

    Shares of the larger and more diversified Johnson & Johnson rose about 30 cents after hours, having closed at $60.07, up 30 cents.

How very interesting that The New York Times invests the efforts of a cadre of writers to investigate the wisp of a rumor concerning McCain while the Democrat Speaker of the House gets a free ride on such an apparently blatent abuse of power to enrich herself and friends.

And it doesn't end there. Congress pressured Medicare to backdown from the regulations with votes in the House and the Senate. The Sense of the Senate nonbinding resolution was approved unanimously (with no votes recorded therefore). As a Senator, Hillary Clinton would have also voted on this measure that proved a financial boon for Amgen. Senator Clinton is also tied to Amgen.

Bloomberg  recently reported that President Clinton's former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Steve Ricchetti, now a lobbyist,  received a $1.7 million payment to his firm from Amgen. He serves as a bundler for Senator Clinton's campaign. That means she is now receiving financial contributions assembled by a lobbyist at a firm that profited from the success of earning her vote.

One of those contributions was from Howard Moon, a former Pelosi advisor who donated $2,300 to the Clinton campaign a few weeks after Clinton voted to stay the hand of Medicare. In addition, in the days just before and after Pelosi submitted the ETHA bill on Aug. 2nd, 2007 a slew of Amgen executives made almost $30,000 dollars in private donations to the Pelosi campaign.
Barrak Obama who claims not to take lobbyist money received over $12,000 in private donations from several Amgen corporate executives (listed as executives, directors, and vice presidents) as revealed by government watch dog group opensecrets.org. The donations listed occured just before the September 4th, 2007 Senate vote on the Sense of the Senate resolution and the day after.

It's easy to find the appearance of unethical behavior whenever lobbyists are involved. The fact that The New York Times saw fit to only look at McCain says much more about The New York Times's ethics problems than it does McCain.
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« Reply #40 on: February 23, 2008, 04:17:35 PM »

Missouri approves proposed prayer amendment

The Missouri House has approved a proposed constitutional amendment that would clarify the right to pray publicly if it doesn't bother others.

The measure was approved 132-11 and now goes to the state Senate. If approved by senators, it would be voted on by
Missourians.

The state Bill of Rights already gives people a "right to worship Almighty God" as they choose. The proposed amendment would allow non-disruptive individual or group prayer and require public schools to display the federal Bill of Rights.

Supporters say the measure doesn't add new rights but better explains existing ones.

During floor debate, critics questioned the need for a clarification.
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« Reply #41 on: February 27, 2008, 04:40:21 PM »

IRS tells 7-year-old boy he owes back taxes - 60,000

Another Carpentersville resident has gotten a notice from the IRS, demanding back taxes on income.

The IRS says the resident owes taxes on $60,000.

Only this victim is 7. Yes, a second-grader.

He's the latest Carpentersville resident, police said Friday, to fall victim to identity theft.

He may, however, be the youngest.

His identity has been in use by someone else since 2001.

Detectives accused a Streamwood man of using the boy's personal information not long after the boy was born in 2001.

Cirilo Centeno, 29, of 1101 Sunnydale Blvd., was charged with felony identity theft, an offense that could land him in jail for between four and 15 years if he is convicted.

The victim's mother claimed the boy as a dependent on her 2007 income tax and was informed by the IRS she could not -- that his Social Security number was being used by someone else.

In 2005, she had filed a report with police because someone was using her son's Social Security number to obtain unemployment benefits and her son was only 4 years old at the time.

Police didn't get far in that investigation.

This time, Carpentersville police contacted the unemployment office in Elgin and learned the offender had just filed another claim to receive benefits.

They were able to locate a telephone number and called Centeno, who identified himself by the name of the 7-year-old, police said.

Police were able to obtain an address from the man on the telephone and two detectives drove to his home in Streamwood, police said.

According to a report, Centeno showed police a Social Security card bearing the name of the victim and Centeno's photo.

Centeno said he has used the Social Security card with the victim's information to obtain a truck, three separate jobs, gas and electrical service for his home, a credit card, unemployment benefits twice for a total of six months, and over $60,000 in pay and services, police said.

Centeno said he bought the card for $50 from a friend and used it because he is in the country illegally, police said.

Centeno's bond was set at $15,000 and he was sent to the Kane County jail.

His next court date is scheduled for March 12 at the Kane County Judicial Center.

IRS tells 7-year-old boy he owes back taxes - 60,000
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« Reply #42 on: February 28, 2008, 03:08:13 PM »

Mississippi Enacts “Covenant Marriage”
Feb 27, 2008

Senate Bill 2550 passed as amended yesterday. The title is: An act to create a form of marriage to be known as covenant marriage requiring certain declarations; to provide that a covenant marriage may be dissolved in cases of adultery; to allow the deferred sale of property; to amend sections 93-1-5, 93-5-1 and 93-5-23, Mississippi code of 1972, in conformity thereto; and for related purposes. Basically a covenant marriage is a legally distinct kind of marriage, in which the marrying couple agree to obtain pre-marital counseling and accept more limited grounds for divorce. Other types of marriage in Mississippi include Common-law marriage and Traditional marriage.

Grounds for divorce in a Mississippi covenant marriage are as follows:

    * Natural impotency.
    * Adultery, unless it should appear that it was committed by collusion of the parties for the purpose of procuring a divorce, or unless the parties cohabited after a knowledge by complainant of the adultery.
    * Being sentenced to any penitentiary, and not pardoned before being sent there.
    * Wilful, continued and obstinate desertion for the space of one (1) year.
    * Habitual drunkenness.
    * Habitual and excessive use of opium, morphine or other like drug.
    * Habitual cruel and inhuman treatment.
    * Insanity or idiocy at the time of marriage, if the party complaining did not know of such infirmity.
    * Marriage to some other person at the time of the pretended marriage between the parties.
    * Pregnancy of the wife by another person at the time of the marriage, if the husband did not know of such pregnancy.
    * Either party may have a divorce if they be related to each other within the degrees of kindred between whom marriage is prohibited by law.
    * Incurable insanity.

In 1997, Louisiana became the first state to create covenant marriage as a legal category. Legislation has been introduced to create legal covenant marriage in a number of other states, including California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia. Only a very small percentage of couples are choosing them in states where they are available. By the end of 2001, “Fewer than 3 percent of couples who marry in Louisiana and Arizona take on the extra restrictions of marriage by covenant.” While there are no real expectations for covenant marriages to severely lower the divorce rate in Mississippi, I believe it passed in hopes that it may lower them to some extent.
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« Reply #43 on: February 29, 2008, 10:56:24 AM »

Pro-illegal immigration Dems undermining SAVE Act, says bill sponsor

House Democratic leaders are working to derail a bipartisan bill that would beef up border security, crack down on illegal aliens and employers who hire them, and reject amnesty.

Representatives Brian Bilbray (R-California) and Heath Shuler (D-North Carolina) are seeking an up-or-down vote on their bipartisan Secure America through Verification and Enforcement (SAVE) Act, which has 47 Democrat and 89 Republican co-sponsors.  They need the need the signatures of 218 House members on a discharge petition for the vote to occur. The Washington Times reports that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and other House Democratic leaders want to poison the bill by attaching an amnesty amendment to it.
 
Bilbray points out the amendment proposed by Representative Joe Baca (D-California) would give illegal aliens a visa for five years so that during that time period Congress could work on passing legislation that would grant citizenship, voting rights, and welfare benefits to the illegal alien population.
 
"We're talking about 20 million people who've broken the law being rewarded for their illegal activity," he says, "but more importantly, Washington officially announcing to the world that we will reward those who come to our country illegally."
 
Bilbray believes the amnesty agenda in Congress is designed to enlarge the Democratic electorate. "You've got Ms. Pelosi and the traditional Democrat groups basically wanting to see this population of 20 million illegals voting for Democrats," he states. "They want to give them residency, citizenship, and register them to vote so they can use this illegal population as a political bloc that's behooving to them because they're the one who empowered them with the votes."
 
Bilbray's last election opponent, Democrat Francine Busby, was caught on tape promising illegal aliens she would give them welfare, healthcare, and retirement benefits, and that they did not need papers to vote or work on her campaign.
 
The SAVE Act is currently languishing in the House Judiciary Committee.
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« Reply #44 on: March 05, 2008, 11:30:47 PM »

No health insurance? Face fines
Failure to subscribe can cost residents up to $912 a year

Massachusetts has begun imposing stiff fines on residents who, for whatever reason, fail to purchase health insurance.

The program is the enforcement end of the state's universal health-insurance plan – and the fees reach up to $912 a year.

The state health-insurance initiative, signed into law by former Gov. Mitt Romney, has been compared to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's national universal health-care plan – especially on the enforcement side.

The penalties apply to anyone deemed able to afford health insurance by the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority, the state agency that oversees the entire program.

Fines accrue every month to individuals not insured and are due as part of the tax-filing process for the year. The assessments began this year for the first time.

"The hefty fines are an indication of the failure of the program to provide the affordable health insurance that was promised," Arnold King of the Cato Institute told Health Care News.

The highest penalty for lacking insurance last year was the loss of the personal exemption, worth $219, on the individual's state tax return. This year the fine increased to half the total cost of the cheapest health insurance plan available through the state health insurance agency.

Through the plan, the state makes subsidized insurance available to individuals earning up to $30,636 per year and to families of four earning up to $61,956.

"The Massachusetts universal coverage plan is overregulated and largely unworkable," said Devon Herrick,, senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis. "The least expensive plan would cost a 37-year-old male resident of Massachusetts $196 a month, and a fine for not having insurance could run half of that, or $98 a month. The same 37-year-old living in Dallas could buy coverage for $98 per month."

Herrick said deregulation of the insurance market in Massachusetts would bring the costs way down.

The 2-year-old program is already $147 million in the red, and the four carriers that provide the subsidized insurance estimate costs rising by 14 percent in the next year.

To deal with the crisis, state officials have ordered carriers to "cut payments to doctors and hospitals, reduce choices for patients, and possibly increase how much patients will have to pay," according to a report in the Boston Globe.

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