In the USA....Kerry: I want to work for peace
By Agence France-Presse
Wednesday, February 6, 2013 18:16 EST
John Kerry was publicly sworn in as secretary of state Wednesday, vowing to work for peace but pledging to do what is needed to stand up to “extremism, terrorism, chaos and evil.”
“I am proud to take on this job because I want to work for peace and because the values and ideals of our nation are really what represents the best of the possibilities of life here on earth,” Kerry told the audience.
But he warned that “while my preference is for peaceful resolution to conflict, my journey has also taught me that when remedies are exhausted, we must be prepared to defend our cause and do what is necessary to stand up to extremism, terrorism, chaos and evil.”
Kerry was first sworn in as secretary of state at a small, private ceremony on Capitol Hill on Friday, less than two hours after Hillary Clinton stepped down from the job.
On Wednesday, Vice President Joe Biden administered the oath of office to Kerry, his long-time friend from the days when they were both in the US Senate, at a ceremony attended by former secretary of state Madeleine Albright.
Other senators, including John McCain, were among the audience, listening as Biden praised Kerry’s integrity and his credentials to be America’s top diplomat.
Biden said he regretted only that Kerry had not been sworn in as president in 2004, after he lost to George W. Bush in the elections.
“How different the world might be today had that occurred?” Biden mused, adding 10 or 12 years ago, he might have been the one being sworn in as secretary of state.
But shaking himself from his reverie, he exclaimed: “It’s John Kerry’s time again.”
Kerry’s speech was short on any specific foreign policy priorities, although he dismissed critics who maintain America should turn inward as it deals with its own domestic and economic problems.
“This is not a time for America to retreat. This is a time for us to continue to lead,” Kerry said.
The world was facing “unparalleled technology, unprecedented growth in the number of young people,” as well as “unleashed sectarian strife and religious extremism,” he warned.
“Unless we stay vigilant, these forces threaten to unravel whole nation states and create greater pockets of instability than we have seen in recent times. This is our challenge.”
He urged the United States “to join with other nations, to pool our resources, our talents, our thinking, and to create order where there is none and to fix, or try to fix, what is broken.”
**********Bernie Sanders Exposes the Dirty Secret that a Few Wealthy People Control Congress
By: Jason Easley
Feb. 5th, 2013
Bernie Sanders has spilled the beans on Congress. Sen. Sanders said, “The Congress of the United States of America is controlled by a handful of extraordinarily wealthy people and corporations.”
Tavis: To your point about Citizens United, one of the ways that we might push back on this money being the mother’s milk of all of our politics notion, one of the way to push back on that would be some real, some serious, campaign finance reform.
There was hope back in the day that the president might eventually get around to that, but both he and Romney, you know, just played by the rules the last time around. So the politics get flooded with $6 billion, $8 billion dollars of money into these various pots. So it raises this question. What evidence do you because I don’t see any as yet?
What evidence do you see that this president this time around is serious? I’ve not heard him in any interviews say anything about campaign finance reform as one of his priorities. How do we get to that if this president, with all the money he raised, won’t ever put campaign finance reform on the table?
Sanders: Well, Tavis, you’re raising exactly the right questions and the answers are difficult. To my mind, the only way we move this country, number one, in overturning Citizens United, number two, moving the public funding of elections, is through a very, very strong grassroots movement that gives the president an offer and members of Congress an offer they can’t refuse. People have got to understand that the issue in Congress is not what the media talks about on why can’t Democrats and Republicans get along.
That is not the issue. The issue is that, to a very significant degree, the Congress of the United States of America is controlled by a handful of extraordinarily wealthy people and corporations, Wall Street being at the top of that list. And unless we address that issue, I fear very much for the middle class. I fear very much for our kids, for low income people and for seniors.
Give you just one example, one example. You have this business round table which is the organization representing the CEOs of major corporations in America. These guys, without exception, make huge amounts of money.
Some of them are worth hundreds of millions of dollars. All of them have these great retirement packages that the average American could not even dream of. Couple of weeks ago, they made an announcement that it is their view that we should raise the Social Security age to 70 and the Medicare eligibility age to 70 as well.
Can you conceive of the arrogance of these people who are at the top one-tenth of one percent of the income stratum telling working families that, before they can collect Social Security, they got to be 70, before they can get Medicare? So all of this is about the continuation of a class warfare being perpetrated by people who have incredible wealth, incredible power. Citizens United makes it even worse.
And at the end of the day, unless we have a strong grassroots political movement which says, excuse me, we’re not going to maintain this incredibly unequal distribution of wealth and income in America. Excuse me, the United States government is supposed to represent all of the people, our kids and the elderly and workers, not just billionaires. Until we have that movement, I doubt very much that you’re going to see the kind of political changes in Washington that we need.
It is a not a stretch of the imagination to assume that the few wealthy people who control Congress are many of the same individuals who were on Sanders’ list of the 26 billionaires who tried to buy the 2012 election. Sen. Sanders was correct. The way to take back our elections is to get all of the special interest money out of politics.
The reason why the Republicans who control the House can blatantly ignore the will of majority of Americans is because the American people aren’t their constituency. The only constituents that matter to House Republicans are those right wing billionaires and corporations who keep the campaign coffers full.
If you want to get rid of ALEC, the Koch brothers, and the over sized political influence of the wealthy, public financing of our elections is the way to do it. The American people are frustrated by a paralyzed Congress, but they don’t seem to understand why Congress is stuck. Members of Congress mouth all sorts of platitudes and cliches about the democracy and the American people at election time, but in our current political system campaign donations matter more than people.
Sen. Sanders destroyed the illusion that Congress works for the people. The current Congress works for no one, but their donors. The needs of the people come last in this Congress, and Bernie Sanders was not afraid to tell you why.
This is such a perfect example of the corporate media in America not telling people the actual truth ..
February 06, 2013 11:00 AMThe Washington Post Can't Even Get A Basic News Story Right
By Susie Madrak
Here's Ed Schultz, raging about this situation last year.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x71WMuYCL2c&feature=player_embedded
No, it's not your imagination. The Washington Post far too frequently slants their "news" stories in service of a pro-conservative, pro-corporate, pro-privatization agenda - whether on purpose or through sheer carelessness, it's hard to say. But this is only the latest example:
The financially struggling U.S. Postal Service plans to stop delivering mail on Saturdays starting Aug. 1, the agency is set to announce Wednesday.
This means that for the first time Americans will receive mail only five days a week, a significant shift for the storied mail agency that has suffered tens of billions of dollars in losses in recent years with the advent of the Internet and e-commerce.
Gee, that sounds right. There couldn't possibly be anything more to the story! After all, everyone you know uses email, so the internet killed it. I mean, those things you buy from eBay (another thriving internet business) must arrive by magic, right?
USPS plans to continue Saturday delivery of packages, which remain a profitable and growing part of the delivery business. Canceling Saturday mail deliveries will save USPS $2 billion annually, according to congressional and postal officials, who confirmed the news ahead of a formal announcement later Wednesday.
[...] The Postal Service said that it suffered a $15.9 billion net loss for fiscal 2012, which ended Sept. 30. That’s three times the loss recorded a year earlier.
As a former editor, I can tell you for a fact: As a group, reporters are some of the laziest people in the world. So if they get a press release about something like this, it is highly unlikely the reporter will engage his or her brain enough to probe into the reasons behind the story, because (as I said), reporters are lazy. (The pre-written narrative is "the internet killed the post office.") So the copy editor is supposed to corral the staffer and either get them to fill in those gaps, or do it themselves.
Except that with massive layoffs in the newspaper industry, it is also likely that unqualified, inexperienced staffers are now working the copy desk.Here's what the story is missing:
The problem lies elsewhere: the 2006 congressional mandate that the USPS pre-fund future retiree health benefits for the next 75 years, and do so within a decade, an obligation no other public agency or private firm faces. The roughly $5.5 billion annual payments since 2007 — $21 billion total — are the difference between a positive and negative ledger.
Why would the Republican-controlled Congress pass such an absurd requirement? Why, it's almost as if they were trying to put the Postal Service out of business!
Well, it's really a twofer. First, they want to break up the federal unions. And second, they want to privatize the post office and give those plum contracts to their good buddies at FedEx and UPS.
But you're not going to read that in the Washington Post. And to be fair, you probably won't get that context in the Times, either. That librul media!
February 6, 2013Democrats Seek to Stave Off $1 Trillion in Cuts
By JONATHAN WEISMAN and ELISABETH BUMILLER
WASHINGTON — With at least one million jobs on the line, Senate Democrats on Wednesday said they were closing in on legislation to temporarily head off nearly $1 trillion in cuts that were already affecting Pentagon decision-making and could force significant reductions in staffing and services across the government.
Despite strong resistance from Republican leaders to new tax revenues, Democrats said that they expected the onset of federal furloughs and layoffs on March 1 to make Republicans more receptive to an emerging solution that would combine spending cuts with revenue from closing tax loopholes. Lawmakers were being spurred by increasingly dire warnings from top Pentagon officials about the implications of the automatic reductions.
“This is not a game; this is reality,” Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said emphatically in a speech at Georgetown University on Wednesday, as he warned that the cuts would curtail American naval operations in the western Pacific by as much as a third and force one-month furloughs for as many as 800,000 Defense Department civilian employees starting this spring.
“These steps would seriously damage the fragile American economy, and they would degrade our ability to respond to crisis precisely at a time of rising instability across the globe,” he said.
Within hours of the speech, the Pentagon announced that the pending budget cuts had forced it to delay the deployment of a second aircraft carrier to the crucial Persian Gulf, leaving only one near the Strait of Hormuz and the coastline of Iran after March. Because of the tensions in the region, the Pentagon has kept two carriers in the area for most of the last two years.
At a closed-door retreat in Annapolis, Md., this week, Senate Democratic leaders struck a populist tone. They suggested they could rally public support for a measure that would temporarily suspend the cuts by limiting tax breaks for oil and gas exploration, reducing the tax advantages for wealthy private-equity employees who pay a lower 20 percent capital gains rate on much of their income, and ending tax deductions for the cost of moving business functions overseas.
A presentation by Senator Patty Murray of Washington, who spoke along with Senators Max Baucus of Montana and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, described the income gains of the richest 1 percent of Americans amid rising poverty and stagnating middle-class incomes.
“Republicans ultimately have to choose whether they are more interested in protecting tax breaks for Big Oil and other special interests, or protecting defense spending and the economy,” said Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee.
Republican leaders are no less firm that the cuts will come into force in three weeks unless Democrats agree to equivalent spending cuts elsewhere in the budget, without tax increases.
“At some point, Washington has to deal with its spending problem,” Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio said Wednesday. “I’ve watched them kick this can down the road for 22 years since I’ve been here. I’ve had enough of it. It’s time to act.”
While federal officials have historically warned of government disruptions to avoid cutbacks, the potential impact of the cuts is being cited by both parties. Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, said the military side alone would eliminate 350,000 jobs directly, and 650,000 more that depend on the government programs.
Domestic programs, from the National Institutes of Health to the Department of Education, would be hit nearly as hard. The Army would cut intelligence and surveillance aircraft and pull back on efforts to counter roadside bombs. Defense Department furloughs would potentially begin as early as April and would cut one work day a week from the Pentagon’s vast civilian work force for the next six months. The employees would face a corresponding 20 percent cut in pay.
At a House Democratic retreat in Virginia on Thursday, Representative Nita Lowey of New York is expected to lay out the domestic side. About 10 percent of the Federal Aviation Administration’s 40,000 workers would be furloughed. Because meat and poultry inspectors would be kept home, food plants that cannot operate without them would have to be shuttered. Coast Guard air and surface operations would be down nearly 25 percent.
Wait times at the nation’s busiest airports could rise as much as three hours with the furloughing of customs agents. Some 70,000 children would be dropped from Head Start. And as Republicans continue to delve into the deaths of four Americans at the American Mission in Benghazi, Libya, the State Department would have to absorb a $168 million cut to embassy security.
Both parties are showing cracks in their resolve. Some Republicans with large military installations in their districts said they could support a postponement in the military cuts while negotiations continued on a broader deficit reduction plan. Fearing for Hill Air Force Base, Representative Rob Bishop, Republican of Utah, did not rule out supporting a Senate bill that closed tax loopholes and cut spending to stave off the cuts.
“It would depend on what the details are,” he said.
Republican leaders of the Senate and the House Armed Services Committees proposed Wednesday to cancel the Pentagon cuts for 2013 by applying savings from a 10 percent cut in the federal work force over the next decade.
Most of the Armed Services Republican leaders were steadfast in their opposition to any more tax increases to resolve the impasse. After describing the situation as “desperate,” Senator James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, the ranking Republican on the Senate committee, added, “It’s not desperate enough to raise taxes.”
The cuts were required in 2011 when a special House-Senate committee was unable to come up with a compromise plan to reduce the deficit.
But Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said both parties bear responsibility for agreeing to the cuts to force a bipartisan deficit deal that remains out of reach.
“We got into this mess together,” he said. “We’re going to have to get out of it together.”
House Democrats produced legislation that would stave off the cuts through Sept. 30 by ending direct subsidy payments to agribusinesses, eliminating tax breaks for oil and gas companies, and establishing a minimum 30-percent effective tax rate on annual incomes over $1 million.
February 6, 2013New Rove Effort Has G.O.P. Aflame
By JEFF ZELENY
WASHINGTON — Their battle with Democrats will have to wait. For now, Republicans have their hands full fighting one another.
The strategist Karl Rove and his allies are under withering criticism for creating the Conservative Victory Project, their effort to help rebuild the Republican Party and win control of the Senate. Their pledge to take sides in primary races in an effort to pick candidates they see as more electable has set off a fierce backlash from conservative activists.
“This is not Tea Party versus establishment,” Mr. Rove said, defending his new project on Fox News. “I don’t want a fight.”
Yet a fight has broken out this week across the conservative media spectrum, with Mr. Rove drawing the ire of Tea Party leaders and commentators who suggest that he and other party strategists are the problem, rather than the solution, to the challenges facing Republicans.
The Congressional elections may be 21 months away, but the dispute has taken on sudden urgency as primary contests are already taking shape, particularly in open Senate races. Republicans must pick up six seats to win a majority.
In Georgia, the contest to fill the seat of Senator Saxby Chambliss, a Republican who is retiring, drew its first contender on Wednesday as Representative Paul Broun announced his intention to run. His candidacy was welcomed more by Democrats than Republicans in Washington, largely because of a string of comments Mr. Broun has made that worry his party’s leaders about whether he has the discipline and broad appeal to win a general election.
Mr. Broun, a physician on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, attracted attention last fall for saying that “evolution, embryology and the Big Bang theory — all of that is lies straight from the pit of hell.”
A former member of that committee is Todd Akin of Missouri, a Republican whose bid to move up to the Senate failed last year after he contended that “legitimate rape” rarely causes pregnancy. His defeat was one of many by Republicans that led American Crossroads, the “super PAC,” to create the Conservative Victory Project.
The project is intended to counter the work of other organizations that have helped defeat establishment Republican candidates over the last two election cycles. It is the most vigorous effort yet by Republicans to try to impose discipline on the party, particularly in House and Senate primary races.
Several other Republicans in Georgia are considering running for the Senate. But the search for what kind of candidates the party should put forward — as well as whether leaders in Washington and the party’s top donors should even be involved in primary races — has focused new attention on the Republican infighting.
Chris Chocola, the president of Club for Growth, the conservative group that has taken an active role in Republican primaries, criticized the new effort by Mr. Rove. Mr. Chocola said it was incorrect to suggest that candidates backed by Tea Party groups were the only ones to lose last year, pointing to establishment Republicans defeated in Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota and Wisconsin.
He said the “electability argument” Republican leaders make in Washington had produced candidates who have not been able to inspire conservative activists.
“It’s those pesky voters,” Mr. Chocola said in an interview. “They get to decide who the nominee is.”
The Conservative Victory Project, which will be run by Steven J. Law, Mr. Rove and the donors who built American Crossroads into the largest Republican super PAC of the 2012 election cycle, will start by intensely vetting prospective contenders for Congressional races. They said that they would raise tens of millions of dollars and run television advertising against any candidate who is seen as too flawed to win a general election.
“A disastrous candidate can lose anywhere,” said Mr. Law, the president of American Crossroads. “We have to be very careful about candidate selection even in deep red states.”
As the Republican feuding intensified, the party’s national chairman, Reince Priebus, indicated that he had no plans to step in as a referee. He sought to straddle both sides of the argument, saying that it was nothing new for Republican groups to get involved in primary races.
“Primaries can be a healthy process,” Mr. Priebus said in a statement on Wednesday, “and it’s positive to see any efforts to help support and elect conservative candidates.”
But the Republican acrimony has consumed conservative talk radio, cable television and blogs for much of the week. Mr. Rove has taken a thrashing, particularly from the radio host Mark Levin, who suggested that Mr. Rove and his allies needed “a hard, swift kick” off the public stage.
David N. Bossie, president of the conservative group Citizens United, wrote a piece on the Big Government Web site that declared, “The Civil War Has Begun.”
“This battle will be a long, hard slog against the establishment,” Mr. Bossie wrote, comparing the party’s conflict to the Battles of Lexington and Concord.
The testiness became personal on Wednesday when Mr. Bossie and the leaders of two dozen conservative groups released a letter to American Crossroads calling for the dismissal of its spokesman, Jonathan Collegio, because he called the veteran conservative activist Brent Bozell “a hater” in a radio interview.
“You obviously mean to have a war with conservatives and the Tea Party,” the letter said. “Let it start here.”
February 6, 2013Obama’s Choice to Lead Interior Dept. Has Oil Sector and Conservation Credentials
By JOHN M. BRODER
WASHINGTON — President Obama on Wednesday nominated Sally Jewell, the chief executive of Recreational Equipment Inc., to lead the Interior Department, with a vow that she will balance the agency’s sometimes conflicting mandates to promote resource development and preserve the nation’s natural heritage.
If confirmed, Ms. Jewell, a former oil company engineer and longtime advocate for conservation and outdoor recreation, will take over a department that has been embroiled in controversy over the regulation of oil and gas on public lands and in the Gulf of Mexico and Arctic Ocean. She also will be the steward of hundreds of millions of acres of public lands, from the Everglades of Florida to the Cascades of Washington State.
Ms. Jewell, 56, who also had a 19-year career as a commercial banker, took over as chief executive of REI in 2005. The company, which is based in Kent, Wash., just south of Seattle, has since grown to nearly $2 billion a year in sales.
She is in line to replace Ken Salazar, who has led the department since the beginning of the Obama administration.
The president must also fill vacancies at other major agencies that deal with energy and environmental issues — at the Energy and Transportation Departments and the Environmental Protection Agency. The White House gave no indication on Wednesday that any of those appointments are imminent.
While introducing Ms. Jewell at the White House, Mr. Obama alluded to the tensions that have divided the Interior Department’s mission for decades. He said that she is an expert on energy and climate change issues as well as an avid outdoorswoman and a former oil company worker in Oklahoma and Colorado.
“She knows the link between conservation and good jobs,” the president said. “She knows that there’s no contradiction between being good stewards of the land and our economic progress, that, in fact, those two things need to go hand in hand.”
Ms. Jewell spoke briefly, saying she was humbled and energized by the appointment and looked forward to meeting the senators who will vote on her confirmation.
She can expect sharp questioning during those hearings about her approach to resource development — oil, gas and minerals, but also solar and wind power — on public lands. Republicans in Congress have criticized the Obama administration for holding back public lands from oil and gas leasing and for imposing overly restrictive regulations on hydraulic fracturing and other extraction methods.
Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the senior Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said she was not yet ready to judge Ms. Jewell’s credentials. “I look forward to hearing about the qualifications Ms. Jewell has that make her a suitable candidate to run such an important agency, and how she plans to restore balance to the Interior Department,” Ms. Murkowski said in a statement.
Ms. Jewell will also face scrutiny from environmental and conservation advocates who will want to know about her approach to the preservation of public lands.
Ms. Jewell, a native of the Seattle area and a graduate of the University of Washington with a degree in mechanical engineering, has been a lifelong outdoors enthusiast. As a child she sailed in the Puget Sound and camped throughout the Pacific Northwest, according to a 2005 profile in The Seattle Times.
In 2011, she introduced President Obama at the White House conference on “America’s Great Outdoor Initiative,” noting that the $289 billion outdoor-recreation industry is the source of 6.5 million jobs.
Ms. Jewell and her husband, Warren, have made political contributions of nearly $100,000 since the mid-1990s, almost exclusively to Democratic candidates and causes. She contributed to two groups that supported the successful 2012 effort to legalize same-sex marriage in Washington State.
The Interior Department post has traditionally gone to a politician from the Western United States, like Mr. Salazar, a former senator from Colorado. Under President George W. Bush, Gale A. Norton, a former attorney general of Colorado, and Dirk Kempthorne, a former governor and senator from Idaho, served in the position.
Ms. Jewell, if confirmed, would represent a different model, a corporate executive with experience in both resource exploitation and conservation.
Douglas W. Walker, a former chairman of the board at REI and a climbing partner of Ms. Jewell’s, said she is an avid climber, kayaker and sailor who has climbed Mount Rainier in Washington State and Mount Vinson in Antarctica.
Mr. Obama referred to her South Pole adventures.
“And when Sally is confirmed, I’m willing to bet that she will be the first secretary of the interior who frequently hikes Mailbox Peak in her native Washington State and who once spent a month climbing mountains in Antarctica,” he said, “which is just not something I’d think of doing, because it seems like it’d be cold, and I was born in Hawaii.”
Stephanie Clifford contributed reporting from New York.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: February 6, 2013
An earlier version of this article misstated the year that Ken Salazar and Barack Obama entered the Senate. It was 2005, not 2004. (They were elected in 2004.)
February 6, 2013A Hospital Offers a Grisly Lesson on Gun Violence
By JON HURDLE
PHILADELPHIA — In a darkened classroom, 15 eighth graders gasped as a photograph appeared on the screen in front of them. It showed a dead man whose jaw had been destroyed by a shotgun blast, leaving the lower half of his face a shapeless, bloody mess.
Next came a picture of the bullet-perforated legs of someone who had been shot with an AK-47 assault rifle, and then one of the bloated abdomen of a gunshot victim with internal injuries so grievous that the patient had to be fitted with a colostomy bag to replace intestines that can no longer function normally.
These are among about 500 gunshot victims who are treated each year at Temple University Hospital, an institution in the heart of impoverished, crime-ridden North Philadelphia. While President Obama and Congressional leaders debate legislation intended to prevent mass killings like the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., the hospital is trying to slow the rate of street killings by helping teenagers understand the realities of gun violence.
The unusual program, called Cradle to Grave, brings in youths from across Philadelphia in the hope that an unflinching look at the effects that guns have in their community will deter young people from reaching for a gun to settle personal scores, and will help them recognize that gun violence is not the glamorous business sometimes depicted in television shows and rap music.
The program is open to all schools in the city, but about two-thirds of the participants were referred by officials from the juvenile justice system. Children younger than 13 are not normally admitted. So far, about 7,000 teenagers have participated since it began in 2006, and despite the graphic content, no parent has ever complained, said Scott P. Charles, the hospital’s trauma outreach coordinator.
“In seven and a half years, I have never had a parent say, ‘I can’t believe what you just showed my child,’ ” Mr. Charles said.
On a recent day the eighth graders, students from nearby Kenderton School, gathered around Mr. Charles at the start of a two-hour visit. Most said they knew someone who had been shot.
“Our goal here isn’t to scare you straight,” Mr. Charles told them. “We’re just trying to give you an education.”
According to police statistics, 331 people were killed in the city in 2012, equaling the highest total since 2008, and the fourth consecutive year of increase. Eighty-six percent of them were killed by firearms, the police say.
Still, the number of killings in the city of about 1.5 million residents has dropped from a high of 406 in 2006, when national news media started calling the city Killadelphia.
In a 2010 paper published in the medical journal Injury, Dr. Amy J. Goldberg, the hospital’s chief of trauma and surgical critical care, and others cited data showing that students’ inclination toward violence decreased after participating in the Cradle to Grave program, especially among those classified as having an “aggressive response to shame.”
“These results suggest that hospitals offer a unique opportunity to address the public health crisis posed by inner-city firearm violence,” the study said.
The program starts with a visit to the hospital’s trauma bay, the first stop for gunshot victims — half of them under 25 — who are brought to the hospital from North Philadelphia’s streets at an average rate of more than one a day.
As the 13- and 14-year-olds gathered around a gurney on a recent visit, Mr. Charles told the story of Lamont Adams, 16, who died at the hospital after being shot 14 times by another boy who believed Lamont had snitched about a street dice game that was broken up by police officers.
Lamont arrived in the trauma bay with 24 gunshot wounds, 10 more than the 14 rounds that had been emptied into him, because some of the shots had also exited his body, in some cases leaving indentations in the sidewalk, Mr. Charles told the students.
In case his verbal description was not sufficiently vivid, Mr. Charles asked Justin Robinson, 13, to play the part of Lamont. The boy lay down on an empty body bag. Mr. Charles attached 24 circular red stickers to Justin’s clothing to represent the wounds in Lamont’s body.
Mr. Charles told the students that the wounds he finds most moving were those in the boy’s hands. “He holds up his hands and begs the boy to stop shooting,” Mr. Charles said. “He had not prepared himself for how terrible this would be.”
The narrative was then taken up by Dr. Goldberg, who told the children that by the time Lamont arrived in the trauma bay, he was not breathing, so surgeons — without the use of anesthetics — quickly inserted a breathing tube into his windpipe.
Neither did he have a pulse but that did not stop the doctors from inserting a tube into his groin to replace the blood he was losing, and then to open his chest in the hope of restarting his heart — which turned out to have three or four holes in it, Dr. Goldberg said. She held up a stainless steel rib-spreader.
As the details of Lamont’s story unfolded, one girl struggled to keep her composure. Another hid her face in her friend’s shoulder. Lamont died about 15 minutes after arriving at the hospital, underscoring that prevention of gun violence is a lot better than trying to cure its effects, Dr. Goldberg concluded.
“Who do you think has the best chance of saving your life?” she asked the students. “You do.”
Despite the grisly images, most of the students said afterward that people should still be allowed to own guns for self-defense, although not assault weapons. Mahogany Johnson, 14, said she is in favor of a street ban on semiautomatic weapons like AK-47 assault rifles, which she said should be used “only in the woods.” Jabriel Steward, 14, said, “Everybody should be allowed to have one gun for protection, for self-defense.”
But Feliciana Asada, 14, said more students should be given the opportunity to participate in Cradle to Grave. “Programs like this need to be installed in schools,” she said.
February 6, 2013Two-Tax Rise Tests Wealthy in California
By ADAM NAGOURNEY
PALO ALTO, Calif. — It is getting awfully expensive to be a millionaire in California.
With the new year, big earners are confronting a 51.9 percent federal-state income tax hit on earnings over $1 million, the result of a confluence of new tax-the-rich levies imposed by California and Congress in the closing days of 2012. That is officially the highest in the nation. And at 13.3 percent, the top-tier California income tax is, in addition to being higher than any other state, the steepest it has been since World War II.
Though no one expects traffic jams at 30,000 feet as panicked millionaires make for the state line, the wealthy are once again grumbling about abandoning California for less punishing tax climates. Phil Mickelson, the golfer who collects purses in excess of $1 million, suggested that he might become the latest in a line of athletes and entertainment figures, among them Tiger Woods, who left California for states like Florida, which has no personal income tax.
The Republican governor of Texas, Rick Perry, firing a new shot in an old interstate war, began putting radio advertisements on the air in California this week summoning burdened businesses his way. “I have a message for California business: Come check out Texas,” Mr. Perry said.
Blood, it seems, is in the water.
“Are you looking to leave California because of the recent tax increase?” a CNN Money correspondent posted online in an inquiry this week. “You could be profiled in an upcoming story.”
For all its many attributes, California has long been a state defined by high taxes and the people who hate them; conservatives here were successfully organizing against taxes before anyone heard of the Tea Party. Yet this milestone — or perhaps millstone — has sneaked up as an unpleasant surprise for the rich, a cloud in the sky at a time when the state budget has come back into balance (in no small part because of the aforementioned tax increase) and the state economy seems to be snapping back to life.
Mr. Mickelson later apologized for discussing the topic, though that did not prevent Mr. Perry from sending him a message on Twitter: “Hey Phil ... Texas is home to liberty and low taxes ... we would love to have you as well!!” Conservatives and antitax activists have cited Mr. Mickelson’s remarks as evidence of what they have long argued are the costs California pays for having such a high tax burden.
“It’s definitely the highest in the United States,” said David Kline, a vice president of the California Taxpayers Association, a taxpayers’ advocacy organization. “What we like to point out to people is that there are states with absolutely no personal income tax — so if you moved from California to Florida, and you are in a high-income bracket, you are automatically giving yourself a 13.3 percent raise.”
For what it is worth, California’s big earners can deduct their state taxes from their federal returns, or at least for the time being: were Congress to repeal that deduction, which is now under discussion, the actual tax burden would be 52.9 percent. The top rate in California has been as high as 15 percent and as low as 6 percent, and the combined rate has been higher at times, like when federal income taxes spiked to pay for wars.
Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat who urged voters to approve the latest state income tax surcharge, dismissed Mr. Perry’s poaching as political trickery, suggesting that high earners consider other factors in deciding where to locate. “People invest their money where these big things have occurred,” he told reporters. “The ideas, the structures, the climate, the opportunity is right here on the Pacific Rim.”
Some of those earners seem at least resigned to the tax burden as a cost of being able to live in California rather than, say, Texas.
“I am happy to pay my taxes, whatever they are: no problem with me,” said David Geffen, the entertainment mogul, who owns estates on the oceanfront in Malibu and on the hedge-lined streets of Beverly Hills. He said he thought it could hurt the business climate, but added, “I don’t think anybody of means is really going to move because of it.”
Cristobal Young, an assistant professor of sociology with the Center on Poverty and Inequality at Stanford, conducted a study last fall that concluded that tax rates had little effect on where millionaires choose to live.
Mr. Young said he suspected that few, if any, millionaires would leave or stay away because of the tax increase. More likely, he said, they would find ways of reducing their tax burden, with loopholes or income avoidance, or simply reduce their work.
“I suspect the accountants are busier this year, but I don’t think the moving companies are getting a boost,” Mr. Young said. “Moving out of state is actually one of the most costly responses they could make. California’s high-income earners are clustered in coastal cities far from state borders. Moving to Nevada or Texas or Florida is a very big life change, and means leaving behind family, friends, colleagues and business connections.”
The burden represents a political reality both here and in Washington: while there might be a new willingness to raise taxes to deal with governmental shortfalls, the target of those new taxes is the wealthy.
In December, Congress agreed to increase federal income taxes on income over $400,000 a year. In November, California voters approved the temporary state income tax surcharge, establishing the top marginal tax rate at 12.3 percent. There is also is a 1 percent millionaire surcharge for mental health programs.
The median rate paid by average taxpayers is significantly lower. Still, this new round of upper-income taxes lifted California to the top of the tax mountain, said Gerald Prante, an economist at Lynchburg College in Virginia, who published a report on marginal tax rates across the country. Right behind California is New York City, which has a 51.7 percent marginal rate. (The rest of New York State has a slightly lower rate because the city imposes a personal income tax.)
Hawaii ranks third, and seven states do not have a personal income tax at all.
Mr. Prante also said there was little evidence that the high taxes he charted had chased anyone out of California. “Has one person ever moved?” he said. “Obviously, yes. But how big an effect is it? Taxes aren’t the only thing that matters when people move.”
But Bradley R. Schiller, a professor of economics at the University of Nevada, Reno, said the argument that high taxes were not pushing people defied the obvious. The French actor Gerard Depardieu recently left his home country to avoid what he described as a severe increase in income taxes, drawing criticism from France and his fellow citizens. Accordingly, Mr. Schiller said, high-profile millionaires are unlikely to want to draw attention to decisions to leave for states with lower taxes, thus making the migration harder to track.
“Taxes have to be a very important of the equation,” Mr. Schiller said. “If you are talking about an income tax of 13 percent on a millionaire in California and an income tax rate of zero percent on a millionaire in Nevada, to argue that it doesn’t affect a millionaire’s locations decision is to say all millionaires must be stupid.”
Mr. Schiller, who was born in California, now lives in Nevada.
********Jerry Brown Says Rick Perry’s Criticism is ‘Not a burp. It’s barely a fart’
By: Sarah Jones
Feb. 5th, 2013
California Democratic Governor Jerry Brown is not impressed with Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry.
The business war between Texas and California continues. Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry released a $24,000 radio ad campaign in California (because everyone listens to radio these days) one day ago, slamming California’s business climate.
In his 30-second ad, Gov. Perry knocks Brown for the recent tax hike that balanced the California budget, saying, “Building a business is tough, but I hear building a business in California is next to impossible. I have a message for California businesses. Come check out Texas.”
Reporters wanted reaction from Brown today. According to the Sacramento Bee, the Governor quipped, “It’s not a serious story, guys. It’s not a burp. It’s barely a fart.”
Watch a segment of the press conference here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUA5ttWcyNE&feature=player_embedded
Pardon me if I revel in Governor Perry’s ad campaign being reduced to “barely a fart”, but this is the guy whose campaign staff called me “scandalous trash” after I reported on stock holdings of his in a company that was at the time the largest distributor of pornography (you might think that made him scandalous trash, but thats not how Republicans roll – the woman is always to blame for the actions of the man). At any rate, I believe scandalous trash ranks above farts, albeit by a slim margin.
Brown asked who would want to move from California to Lubbock, Texas. He said, “They aren’t going to go to Lubbock or someplace like that.” True enough. California is full of gorgeous cities and towns and the weather is almost perfection. However, Texas does have Austin. They had the incomparable Betty Buckley as well, but she is now in London for “Dear World.”
Brown sank one in deep from the state of entertainment (aka, one of our largest exports), “If they want to get in the game, let them spend $25 million on radio and television. Then I’ll take them seriously.”
Indeed. That’s how they roll in California — don’t bother them with your measly, not even a fart, 24,000 dollar radio buys. They are very busy and important, with their balanced budget and their scandalous trash. Mean old liberal elites.
Your move, Perry.
February 6, 2013Trial of Former College Quarterback Accused of Rape Starts Friday in Montana
By JIM ROBBINS
HELENA, Mont. — The trial of Jordan Johnson, a former starting quarterback at the University of Montana accused of raping an acquaintance, begins in Missoula, Mont., on Friday, extending a cloud of scandal that has hung over the campus for two years.
Mr. Johnson faces one count of sexual intercourse without consent and, if convicted, a sentence of anywhere from 2-to-4 years to 100 years in prison. Mr. Johnson, who has denied the accusation, would also have to register as a sex offender for life.
A series of accusations of sexual assault and other crimes, many involving members of the university’s hugely popular football team, the Grizzlies, have overshadowed the college town of Missoula, in the mountains of western Montana. Claims that accusations had been ignored, covered up or played down by university and law enforcement officials also contributed.
E-mails released last year, for example, showed that one university official, James Foley, sought a way under the student conduct code to punish a woman who had publicly claimed that she was sexually assaulted by four members of the football team. He also urged that officials stop calling the assault “gang rape” and refer to it as “date rape.” Mr. Foley has since moved to a different post.
In Mr. Johnson’s case, the woman said that in February 2012, Mr. Johnson raped her as they watched a movie together at a fellow student’s home, according to her affidavit. A report was made to the police in March 2012 and, after an investigation of several months, Mr. Johnson was charged in July.
In the affidavit, reported in The Missoulian, the city’s daily newspaper, the woman said that she sent a text message to a friend shortly after the encounter: “Omg ... I think I might have just gotten raped ... he kept pushing and pushing and I said no but he wouldn’t listen ... I just wanna cry ... Omg, what do I do!”
The next day she went to the University of Montana Student Assault Resource Center, and then to a medical exam.
Mr. Johnson’s lawyer, David Paoli, has said the sex was consensual. He did not return a phone call seeking comment.
The federal Justice Department is investigating how the university has handled claims of sexual assault. The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is also investigating a sexual harassment complaint against members of the football team. And the N.C.A.A. is investigating the university on undisclosed matters.
Peggy Kuhr, a university spokeswoman, said that while neither the N.C.A.A. nor the Justice Department investigations had concluded, the controversy had prompted the university to make changes.
“We’ve been working all along, moving forward on campus safety,” she said. Among the changes is a mandatory online tutorial on the subject of sexual assault that students must take and pass.
The Department of Justice is also investigating how Missoula County prosecutors and the city police handled complaints of sexual assault.
In December 2010, a student told the police that she had lost consciousness while drinking and woke to find herself under assault by five men, including four football players. None were charged. In December 2011, three players were implicated in two other assaults and were not charged. City law enforcement officials have said the allegations often involve alcohol, memories are hazy and it is very difficult to bring charges.
In April of last year, the contracts of both the football coach, Robin Pflugrad, and the athletic director, Jim O’Day, were abruptly terminated without explanation.
Mr. Johnson’s trial comes on the heels of the sentencing of a former Grizzlies running back, Beau Donaldson, who pleaded guilty to raping a childhood friend in 2010 as she slept in his apartment. Last month, he was sentenced to 30 years in jail, with 20 suspended. He must serve two and half years before he is eligible for parole.
“We’ve had sex assaults, vandalism, beatings by football players,” said Pat Williams, a former congressman and a member of the Montana Board of Regents. “The university has recruited thugs for its football team, and this thuggery has got to stop.”
University officials say they are trying. The recently hired athletic director, Kent Haslam, said one of the most important changes is that coaches are no longer in charge of players who violate a new, clearer student athlete code of conduct. Instead, a violation is handled by a four-person committee consisting of athletic officials, including the senior women’s administrator.
Questions have been raised about whether Mr. Johnson can get a fair trial amid such controversy. Court officials have assembled an extra-large pool of 400 for the jury selection that begins Friday.
“You have to believe that the presumption of innocence is somehow affected,” said Milt Datsopoulos, who represented Mr. Donaldson and is also on the National Advisory Board for Grizzly Athletics, a booster organization. He believes that his client’s sentence was more severe than it would have been had there not been what he called “a toxic atmosphere” in Missoula.
“They made him a poster child for a supposed major problem,” Mr. Datsopoulos said of Mr. Donaldson. “I don’t think a problem exists.”