Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Computing the cloud - Smartphone "digital wallet"

Cyberspace is set to whirl into another phase of the brave new world with the advent of the digital wallet – Visa's potential market share: - $1.38 trillion cash flow in the last quarter alone.

Though the measly American market share of 20% of mobile financial services lags behind Asia's 61% and Europe's 45%, according to Credit Suisse, Visa's quarterly take hovers somewhere around $2.2 billion and is expected to crack $10 billion in revenue next year.

Smartphone technology is serious business in the emerging mobile electronic diversified financial services market – and rising.

Market analysts advise buying shares of Visa and MasterCard in anticipation of the predicted profit taking that will follow in 2012 and 2013 from their pennies on the dollar share in digital banking.

AT&T and Verizon are slated to get a boost from the new method of bill paying, purchasing power and balance transfers.

Google splashed into the market last week with the announcement of its Android digital wallet on Sprint. Swipe your smartphone at any store or retail outlet and pay for your purchase, make automatic payments of monthly bills, or place deposits on reservations and accomplish securities trades.

Eventually, marketers predict, the driver's license and passport could wind up embedded on the smartphone using the near field communication technology (NFC) introduced by Google and Sprint.

Socialst lecture on Muslim Brotherhood's Arab Spring

"Fracking" the news as energy paradigm shifts


Austin – “Fracking” the shale formations deep underground is the key to onshore energy production east of the Rockies – a natural route to increasing energy independence.

This bold new method of unlocking previously unavailable and cost prohibitive natural gas deposits is all over the news as the market recovers from the disasters of 2008 and an energy-starved American economy looks for alternatives to its fuel problems.

Legislators did their part to help quell environmental concerns by voting out a new law that would require posting the chemicals used to fracture the oil and gas-laced strata deep underground on public websites – while at the same time keeping confidential the exact formulas and proportions of proprietary mixtures developed by completion experts such as Halliburton World Services.


The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act imposes curbs on margin buying schemes – especially for executives of financial institutions - used by CEO's such as Chesapeake Energy's Aubrey McClendon, who was forced to sell off millions in stock in the company he co-founded whenLink gas prices plummeted following the financial collapse, then realized a $75 million bonus voted by his board. The result: shareholder class action suits and bad publicity.

It's all part of new and shifting paradigm that finds stock analysts as well as shareholders questioning pay packages for company chieftains such as Mr. McClendon, who realized a $21 million income for 2010 – down from as much as $193 million in that ill-fated year of 2008.


As it is, he's in the same notch with the chief of Chevron ($16 million), GE ($21 million), and ConocoPhillips ($18 million).

What does it all boil down to represent? That's simple enough, from where The Legendary sits.

It's all about how fracturing in such formations as the Bakken, the Eagle Ford and the Giddings oil fields is the thing of the future, a way out of $5 per gallon gas, when they'll sell it to you, and a miserable economic future picture.

There's enough of it out there to keep the nation supplied for the next coming century, according to the deep thinkers who drive the energy ship.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Last minute filibuster foils GOP school finance bill

Lt. Governor pushes for law banning "sanctuary cities" in Texas

Austin – Legislators will go into special session to pass a school finance plan through a simple majority vote.


Senate Democrats filibustered the GOP-backed bill that would have stripped school financing of more than $25 billion in state funding as Republicans failed to get the required 60% assent state senators by a factor of 6 votes. Lawmakers labored through the Memorial Day holiday in an attempt to reach an accord on the controversial issue of trimming a massive budget deficit.

Under the rules governing special sessions, a simple majority will suffice to send the education spending plan to the Governor's desk for approval.

Lt. Governor David Dewhurst said he will suggest that Governor Rick Perry should add a Sanctuary Cities element to the special session as a companion to school financing. Under the terms of proposed legislation, Texas cities would no longer have the privilege of declaring the immigration status of people police detain with probable cause as off limits to law enforcement inquiries.

Police would be allowed to detain persons they have reasonable suspicion to believe are in the U.S. illegally until Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers have time to collect them for deportation proceedings.

The sanctuary city policy of San Francisco has thrown local officials into a tizzy. In an attempt to comply with the city's sanctuary policy, Sheriff Mike Hennesy plans to let illegal aliens out of jail as quickly as possible, citing them to return to court, regardless of their immigration status.

Mr. Hennesy said his new policy is is his attempt to comply with the city's sanctuary city law.

Am I getting through to you, Mr. Beale? - "Network"

To direct the viewer's attention...

The filmmaker didn't tell you anything; he just showed you.



Austin – Chad Owen develops ideas and makes value judgments regarding the speed of light, and all its infinite wave lengths – on a day to day, moment to moment basis.

It's his profession.

His earliest professional experience came as a grip working for one of Chicago's major gaffers, lighting movies, commercials and documentaries in the Windy City's locations and studios.

He produces videos for websites, merchandisers, educators, and filmmakers in Austin's burgeoning film colony.

He's a young man, agile, clean cut, spare of word – with the sudden movements and actions of a craftsman who uses phrases with care, chooses terms for maximum impact, lets them sink in, then makes a sudden move to grasp a lamp, a scrim, a reflector - any of the hundreds of pieces of gear used to paint pictures – motion pictures – with light.

Sunday of a long holiday weekend finds him teaching “Lighting 101” at the Austin School of Film in a trim, low and glassy brick building crammed with computers, cameras, lights, and the actions of budding producers and directors located in the 1600 block of Cesar Chavez Blvd on Austin's east side.

The lecture doesn't last long. It begins with the succinct explanation that light is just the humanly visible mid portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. It's all energy; it's all radiation, but at the upper end are the dangerous and problematic, the invisible, the gamma rays which can pass through the planet and emerge on the other side, x-rays and ultraviolet frequencies.

At the lower end are the invisible wavelengths of infrared and below that the ultra-slow and low frequency vibrations of sound and radio, with wavelengths measured in meters.

Mr. Owen deals with the visible spectra of radiation – light.

Retinal structure being what it is, it's all about stimulating the 120 million some odd rods that overpower human perception's ability to discern colors with only 4 million cones built into man's neuro-optical array.

“I think film is really about the shadows...It's the element that lets us drop the sensation of disbelief.”

Digital technology allows the computerized correction and adjustment of light and shadow, color, and the “punch” of the various softening qualities of low frequency red and yellow indoor lights and the hard and texture revealing blue and violet outdoor wavelengths – all of it measured by “temperatures” in “Kelvins” and lumens, foot candles and the wattages of the various incandescent lamps, fluorescent tubes, and light emitting diode (LED) arrays.

The practical demonstrations begin almost immediately with students peering through the viewfinder of a digital camera to replicate various digital techniques used by such luminaries as Oliver Stone and Stanley Kubrick in fanciful color flicks like “Natural Born Killers” and “2001-A Space Odyssey,” the long focus black and white lighting tricks used by Orson Welles in “Citizen Kane” and “Casablanca,” and Sam Peckinpah's slow motion pans and interstitial cuts contrasting noon time blaze and closeup haze.

The lessons boil down to seven elements in descending order of importance – to direct the viewer's attention; to reveal shape and form, shadows and depth; to establish an environment; to characterize the subject and surroundings; to develop compositional relationships; to maintain visual continuity.

Finally, and perhaps the least important of all, according to Mr. Owen, though the most essential – to satisfy the technical requirements of the camera in use is the primary purpose of the entire array of the gaffer's methods.

When it's all been said and the job is done, “The filmmaker didn't tell you a thing; he just showed you.”

Wes Riddle’s Horse Sense #504 - All is Changed

A picture of mobs and pitchforks is not a pretty sight, but I wonder if a few outside of big banks might not make it better, or outside of Congress.

When I was a kid I had an innate sense, probably like most Southerners, that things were stable and things didn’t change that much over time. I’ve come to realize that they do and very often things change radically over a very short space of time. There is a world of difference socially and politically and technologically between America in 2011 and America in 1961 or 1979 or 1999. For the first time ever a majority are unmarried today—and very few of them have many children. In the 1950s 77% of the people in the country were married, and families with four children were typical. The yards outside of suburban homes teemed with young faces and the sound of kids playing.

Now Face Book helps one keep up with friends, but look at how radically different circumstances are for them and for you in the space of a decade or more or in many cases the space of just one year. Besides the stages that are the story of mankind as individuals, from childhood to adolescence to young adulthood to middle age, etc., there are the often unpredictable interventions and love and marriage, crisis and divorce, sickness and death, success and poverty, bad luck and blessing. A nation moves in accord with stages too or perhaps more along waves of experience and condition. There are good times and bad, boom and bust, attack by enemies, wars, and tentative periods of peace. We are subject to the powers that be and to the Power that is.

Sometimes we’re happy things change, because hard times don’t last forever. Someday we die, and for many that’s a relief. For the unpleasant interval there is hope that “time stands still for no man” or “time and tide wait for no one.” For the lovely fleeting moment, there is an implicit wish that we could somehow slow things down and savor it, or bottle the time and the sunshine for later. Later always comes in some form or fashion, though rarely as we thought or at the time we anticipate. Seems to me the End Times have been predicted forever. The 21st of May 2011 came and went, and I suppose the 21st of December 2012 will too. If you are living your life the way you should, meaning that you are sincerely seeking, finding, following the leadings of Christ according to the way you freely choose, it really doesn’t matter anyway. God is patient and has His own timetable. Time punctuates Eternity, and man’s predictions are positively counterproductive. They hardly make sense from the reference standpoint of Infinity. Name your date, and we’ll find it every Day of the Cosmos somewhere.

Still I think we can do better. For instance, there is a rapid world of development now and here on earth that all but precludes us from anything but a rat race our whole life long. This is not the case everywhere but it is the case in the United States and it is rapidly engulfing the rest of the world, and it is an invention of man. If you are 35 or 40 or 45 or 65 and have no savings to show, then you are not only a good consumer but you are actually being consumed according to the design. If I determined now to prepare for my old age, and say that I bought and paid for a small house on a few acres of land—perhaps I had an extended family to help, or perhaps I saved to pay for the long-term care at home that I needed—I should not need an income, particularly if I cultivated a garden or kept a few chickens. Unfortunately this is an utterly impossible scenario, as “Jeffersonian” as it sounds, because Jefferson is no longer respected and property taxes would take it away. I strongly believe property taxes should either be abolished or that some age or economic status intervene according to state law, in order to trump the state’s awful reach that robs each and every one of us of this remote possibility.

Another not so funny thing is how we have got ourselves into a one-way rat race. Strange really, since change is at least bidirectional in concept. For instance one could elect to do something on Tuesday that he did last Saturday. You can go to church on Sunday again, even if you missed a few weeks in a row. Of course politically we are not allowed to do or try again what we did in the Fifties in any respect. The ground rules were shifted beneath our feet while we slept. Large institutions now intervene where there were none so powerful to do so once upon a time. A picture of mobs and pitchforks is not a pretty sight, but I wonder if a few outside of big banks might not make it better, or outside of Congress.

That’s the great thing about the virtual world we’ve created and the way it contains our moral imagination. As long as I can watch a 3-D video or play a video game in high definition, I can do anything there—the worst violence even, and I can do it again tomorrow or practically at anytime. I can also download the upgrade, and some of the upgrades are free, even if I am no longer a free man. The world outside in physical space, however, remains firmly in the hand of controllers, and I am not threatened so long as I do not threaten their control. They monitor the macro-status and sometimes our tracks, in order to ensure that independence is beyond the grasp of virtually everyone, because independence threatens control by definition and could pose a danger to them. Therefore you and I take two politically and socially liberal steps forward for every step we may go back. Progressives control the direction, even if conservatives insert a halting step once in a blue moon. Accordingly, power stays in Washington and with the Fed. The Constitution is living, and like a dead man walking knows that tomorrow will not hold the same promise as yesterday, neither as 1776 or 1945 either. All is changed.
_____________________
Wesley Allen Riddle is a retired military officer with degrees and honors from West Point and Oxford. Widely published in the academic and opinion press, he ran for U.S. Congress (TX-District 31) in the 2004 Republican Primary and is currently Chairman of the Central Texas Tea Party and State Director of Republican Freedom Coalition (RFC). Email: Wes@WesRiddle.com

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Rainy Day Fund untapped as legislators pass budget

Austin – State lawmakers cut $27.1 billion from programs such as education, universities and health care to pass a budget through both houses.

Following a long day of debate that stretched into the late night hours Saturday, Republicans in the House and Senate dodged using the “Rainy Day Fund” to make up for budget shortfalls and sent a spending bill to the Governor's desk for approval.

The fund is made up of money collected in royalties from oil and gas leases on state lands when prices are especially high. The debate broke out along party lines, with Democrats advocating the use of the rainy day money and the Republican majority calling for the massive cuts in spending that they finally passed.

The revolution will not be televised - Gil Scott-Heron dead

The legendary Godfather of rap passes at the age of 62.



Mr. Scott-Heron was best known for this blank verse poem, "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised"

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Then you really might know what it's like...

Judge Napolitano tells how we got the Patriot Act

Lemme get dis straight - put da lime in da coconut...

Clipped - another soldier shot down in the cold war


Rose Cheramie (Cherami) was found unconscious by the side of the road at Eunice, Louisiana, on 20th November, 1963. Lieutenant Francis Frugé of the Louisiana State Police took her to the state hospital. On the journey Cheramie said that she had been thrown out of a car by two gangsters who worked for Jack Ruby. She claimed that the men were involved in a plot to kill John F. Kennedy. Cheramie added that Kennedy would be killed in Dallas within a few days. Later she told the same story to doctors and nurses who treated her. As she appeared to be under the influence of drugs her story was ignored. Following the assassination, Cheramie was interviewed by the police. She claimed that Lee Harvey Oswald had visited Ruby's night club. In fact, she believed the two men were having a homosexual relationship. Rose Cheramie was found dead on 4th September, 1965. At first it appeared she had been involved in a road accident. Later it was argued that she had been shot in the head before being run over by by a car in order to disguise the original wound. However, the Louisiana State Police Memo reported: "Cheramie died of injuries received from an automobile accident on a strip of highway near Big Sandy, Texas, in the early morning of September 4, 1965. The driver stated Cheramie had been lying in the roadway and although he attempted to avoid hitting her, he ran over the top of her skull, causing fatal injuries. An investigation into the accident and the possibility of a relationship between the victim and the driver produced no evidence of foul play. The case was closed"



Ms. Cheramie appears to have been very dope sick during the interview.
- Jacques



Mr. Oswald was waiting for "someone to come forward."

Dewhurst, Legislators reach school finance accord

Austin – Key Republicans announced a final agreement on public school financing that will include an equal share in $4 billion of prorated cuts to all school districts across the board.

According to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Senator Florence Shapiro (R-Plano), Rep. Charlie Geren (R-Ft. Worth), and Rep. Rob Eissler (R-The Woodlands), the plan will include an end to the “target revenue” system under which certain suburban school districts received extra money based on calculations made in 2006.

Senator Shapiro told the Capital press corps that the accord, which has been reached “in principle,” includes parts of both the House and Senate versions of the school financing bill.

William Lutz of “The Lone Star Report” news service wrote that “Target revenue is a feature of the school finance system designed to be temporary, but has lasted since 2006. It gives some school districts extra money based on where they were in the school finance system in 2006. Some school districts – particularly a lot of suburban districts – did quite well under the system, others (particularly rural) that receive money under the regular formulas (rather than target revenue) get significantly less per student than those under target revenue.”

Mr. Dewhurst gave reporters a brief snapshot of the agreement while his colleagues take the completed package, details of which have not yet been made public, back to their chambers for approval.

“This was a very constructive process,” Mr. Dewhurst remarked. “It took a little longer than we all had wanted but everyone worked together in good faith.”

Over the first of the next two years, every system will get an equal cut. In the second year, school districts benefiting from target revenue will get a deeper cut, to bring them closer to parity with the districts who get money via regular apportionment formulas.

“What we think is really important is to give the school districts some certainty,” Senator Shapiro said. The Legislature will conduct an interim study on public school finance.



Friday, May 27, 2011

Plea bargain to lead to difficult term of probation

What caused the injury to a child – the inability - for life - to trust?

Waco – The little girl was only 9 years of age when the well-respected, wealthy business man persuaded her it would be all right to perform for him – to dance naked while he made photographs of her with his cell phone.

Then he raped the little girl, according to a criminal complaint.

Authorities released him on $l.5 million bond following his arrest in February, 2010.

In a multi-count indictment, prosecutors outlined a case in which the alleged offender, a former financial adviser, was to be prosecuted for aggravated sexual assault, sexual performance of a child, criminal solicitation of a minor, and possession of child pornography.

He was then re-indicted for two counts of sexual performance by a child and three counts of indecency with a child by contact.

That's when John Thomas Bauer, 41, destroyed his cell phone in an attempt to destroy the digital photographic and video evidence of the alleged crimes. He admitted to Woodway police officers that he did so.

His defense attorney arranged a plea bargain. Bill Johnston struck a deal with Prosecutor Michelle Voirin, who recommended that Mr. Bauer should be placed on regular felony probation for 10 years – the maximum amount of time a person may be placed on felony adult commuity supervision – for the crimes of third-degree felony tampering with physical evidence and injury to a child.

In the agreement, Mr. Bauer waived his right to indictment by a Grand Jury for the offense of injury to a child. He elected to plead guilty to charges outlined by “information.”

According to expert witnesses, a child's ability to ever trust another human being – an adult male or female, child or adolescent – is in most cases permanently affected by such treatment. This constitutes a mental injury of a permanent nature.

District Attorney Abel Reyna stepped in and modified the structure of the deal. He changed the recommendation of the sentence to an offer of deferred adjudication in return for a guilty plea and 10 years of probation to be served under terms and conditions which include the stipulation that law enforcement authorities must be kept informed of Mr. Bauer's whereabouts during the entire 10 years.

State Criminal 19th District Judge Ralph Strother accepted the guilty plea yesterday, which removes all burden of proof from the State of Texas by Mr. Bauer's own admission of guilt.

Now the Court must pass sentence – an event that is scheduled for June 25. If Mr. Bauer completes the full 10 years of probation with no violation, there will be no permeanent record of his conviction.

There is a catch.

Should probation authorities find reason to “violate” Mr. Bauer's deferred adjudication probation, he will be subject to the full array of punishment when he is returned to the Court to proceed to original sentencing.

That includes a sentence of anywhere from 5 to 99 years, or life behind bars, on a sentence of deferred adjudication for the offenses for which Mr. Bauer has plead guilty. Deferred adjudication is not the same as regular probation. If he successfully completes the term, he will never have to register as a sex offender.

The Judge is to study a forthcoming pre-sentence investigation report from the Adult Probation Department in order to make up his mind.

Living up to the terms of the agreement won't be easy, according to Mr. Reyna, the District Attorney.

He told a journalist that “I would much rather him face life if he violated than 10 years. As for commenting on the rest of the case, I would rather wait until the sentence is handed down.”

What kind of persons typically commit such offenses against the very young in our society?

Doctors call them sociopaths, though the term has by and large been replaced by the description of one who is suffering from “antisocial personality disorder.”

Writing in the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,” Fourth Edition (1994), David Lykken describes the findings of Dr. Robert Hare as having been created by ineffective parenting and inadequate socialization during childhood and adolescence.

There are four types identified by experts.

Common Sociopaths are created by poor parenting and develop a lack of remorse and shame, a willingness to consistently break the rules of society.

Alienated Sociopaths do not develop the capacity to love or form attachments with others, and it creates a person that lacks empathy and can be quite callous with victims.
Aggressive Sociopaths are dangerous individuals who enjoy hurting others and can often be described as sadistic. Dominance and control are at the heart of the psychological needs, which are fulfilled by developing and maintaining traditional psychopathic traits as a means to obtain, degrade, hurt and sometimes kill victims.

Dyssocial Sociopaths would not normally be a sociopath or psychopath, but found themselves involved with, relating to, and loyal to other sociopathic or psychopathic individuals, a loyalty which influenced their own development of belief systems and they became sociopath due to assimilation of beliefs.

How do sociopathic individuals persuade their child victims to cooperate with their desires?

They don't do it through intimidation and threats, or with physical violence, according to experts. They first establish an atmosphere of trust through rewards and grooming. They use deception and enticement within the terms of a long and on-going relationship with the child.

Ninety percent of men who commit sex offenses know their victims well. They are just about always of the same race as the victim.

More than physical injury, the violation of trust that accompanies most sexual assaults has been shown to dramatically increase the level of trauma the victim suffers. Emotional and psychological injuries cause harm that can last much longer than physical wounds.

It's a silent form of suffering, this travail of the little ones so abused.

They don't tell about their misery for a variety of reasons, including the offender's threats to hurt or kill loved ones, or out of shame, embarrassment, wanting to protect the offender, feelings of love for the offender, fear of being held responsible or being punished, fear of being disbelieved, and fear of losing the offender, who may be very important to the child, or the child's only family.

Those Rolex watches were not fake, after all



McAllen - The security picture of the robber is clear enough. It shows a sophisticated, professional jewel thief going to work, pulling on his thick leather gloves and getting ready to hammer the display cases.

It's about 10:20 a.m. on a Friday morning, the sun is shining, and the smash and grab man is clocking in on the job.

When the crew was finished, the four members of the gang ran and jumped in a pickup truck found across the Highway 84 expressway from the Deutsch & Deutsch Jewelery store at La Plaza Mall.

They made a second getaway hours later in the Waco area.

Two San Antonio men suspected of the daring smash and grab daylight robbery of the McAllen jewelry store walked away, released on bond on charges of possession of trademark counterfeit merchandise after convincing a State Trooper the nearly 100 Rolex and other luxury watches in their swag bag were fake.

The trooper stopped them south of town when he noticed they were following another vehicle too closely and driving in the wrong lane of I-35. Taking notice of their nervous demeanor, their evasive answers and guilty affect, he decided to detain them and searched their vehicle further.

As it turns out, the watches were not fake, after all. So far, the FBI has identified about 20 of the expensive items as those looted from the valley store – an estimated $200,000 value - and still counting, as they continue to work to pinpoint the origin of the time pieces by investigating their serial numbers.

The two suspected robbers have vanished. All Marcus Ramirez, 28, and Roland Sanchez, 34, left behind was their bond fee and the recovered loot.

The McAllen police chief and DPS supervisor praised the Highway Patrolman for recovering the merchandise, and hope to charge the two men who were released in Waco with the McAllen robbery and with possession of stolen merchandise in excess of $200,000, a first-degree felony punishable with a prison term of 5-99 years, or life imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.

Authorities have not yet apprehended the other two members of the gang.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Goin' to Louisiana, get me a mojo hand... - Lightnin'

South Carolina mulls minting gold and silver coins

By Scott |Martin,

Tenth Amendment Center

The South Carolina Legislature, with S.862, and H.4128, may turn back the clock on central government economic power. The bills’ stated goal:

To amend the code of laws of South Carolina, 1976, by adding article 18 to chapter 1, title 1 so as to provide that gold or silver coin, or both, shall be legal tender in this state for payment of certain debts; and by adding article 26 to chapter 1, title 1 so as to establish a join committee for the adoption of a alternate form of currency.Link

Reintroducing gold and silver as money can kill the engine of central government growth.

Once upon a time, the dollar was simply defined as 1/20-ounce of gold. “Dollar” was simply a familiar name for a convenient quantity of a universally valued commodity.

Likewise, the British Pound was 1/4-ounce of gold, as well as a pound of silver. The different names were nationalistic, patriotic, or just cultural names for a given amount of gold. Gold and silver are hard (read honest, unmanipulable) money...

http://blog.tenthamendmentcenter.com/2011/05/honest-money-the-dollar-and-south-carolina/


Cops douse docs with pepper spray amid protests

Athens – Doctors and hospital staff tried to force their way inside the Health Ministry as police rebuffed them with pepper spray. Look for more riotous conditions today as trade unions begin another round of demonstrations.

Auditors from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund checked the books in work-out sessions on central bank bailout loans totaling $155 billion under terms of austerity that have led to deep cuts in health care provision. They have persuaded the Socialist government to sell off such public assets as telecommunications infrastructure, seaports, government-run banks, and hospitals.

Public reaction in opposition has been swift and violent.

Protesters organized through social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter will again descend on the downtown area in similar demonstrations inspired by economic events in Spain, where the central bank has come close to defaulting on full faith and credit arrangements. World bank and European Union officials have worked overtime to prevent a collapse of the Euro and the central banks of Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain (PIGS).


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Brick through window notice startles victims

Texas VINE Service notified people that a convicted child rapist was “released” from the McLennan County Jail

One sometimes marvels at the imprecision of the choice of words used in important government announcements.

Considereth:

“5/25/2011

“This email is to inform you of the recent release from custody of Benjamin Morrison from the McLennan County Jail on 5/25/2011.

“If you have any questions, you may contact the McLennan County Jail at 254-757-2555.

“Sincerely,

“Texas Statewide VINE Service”

Benjamin Morrison plead guilty to four counts of aggravated sexual assault of a female victim who was less 14 years of age, offenses which took place over a 5 year period, in exchange for a chance at parole.

Prosecutors agreed to drop a single count of continuing sexual abuse of a child – an offense that can result in life imprisonment without the possibility of parole - in exchange for his guilty plea.

Victims statewide received the laconic notice quoted above, the ambiguity of which led them to believe that the convicted rapist had been released from custody before he ever saw the Texas Department of Corrections.

The misinformation generated considerable heat and light, to say the least.

One even contacted The Legendary to inform us that we accepted money in exchange for helping Mr. Morrison receive his imagined release.

Nothing could be further from the truth. We of The Legendary received no funds from any person or organization for producing this series of stories - or any other.

A quick call to the records division of the McLennan County Sheriff's Department confirmed that Mr. Morrison, 39, had indeed been released – to the custody of the Texas Department of Corrections, which transported him to the system's Diagnostic Unit for processing and classification as he begins what will probably be a lengthy period of imprisonment for the crimes for which he admitted culpability.

The offender was accused of the ongoing sexual assaults, most of which occurred during a period when he was a student living in the married housing section of Texas State Technical College on the campus of the former Tom Connelly Air Force Base at Bellmead, following his service in the U.S. Army during Operation Desert Storm.

Prosecutors prepared an extensive case against the defendant, including witness testimony from experts who examined the victim and were prepared to answer questions put to them by prosecutors and defense counsel regarding the hearsay statements of the child.

Such procedures are allowed under an exception to the hearsay testimony exclusionary rule.

The evening before the scheduled jury trial, Mr. Morrison changed his plea to guilty in exchange for a lack of prosecution for the first count, that of ongoing sexual abuse of a child of less than 14 years of age.

Mr. Morrison still faces possible prosecution for another offense involving another child victim.

He had enjoyed a considerable period of freedom following his release from custody on a Writ of Habeas Corpus when the Grand Jury failed to indict him for the offenses for which he had been charged. Mr. Morrison was living in the Bruceville-Eddy area and working at Acer Computers in Temple until the McLennan County Grand Jury returned an indictment and authorities re-arrested him on the charges.

Yesterday, Criminal District Attorney Abel Reyna assured media outlets in the area that he is vigorously pursuing prosecution in a backlog of more than 1,100 felony cases left on the back burner due to a lack of indictment by his predecessor, John Segrest, who occupied the office of DA for more than 20 years prior to Mr. Reyna's election in November of 2010.



Cross the Brazos at Waco – whither Six Shooter?


Hard times force hard choices in McLennan County Commissioners' Court meetings

Waco – The discussion Tuesday morning was circuitous, revolving, worrisome. Pros. Cons. What if?

What if the Court elects to pay off almost $6 million in general obligation bonds 10 years in advance of their maturity date?

The financial advisor and the bond counsel were at pains to make the Commissioners understand the advantages of either doing business that way, or not.

McLennan County took on the 20-year obligation 10 years ago; the practical goal at the time was to improve Cameron Park, to beautify the River Walk, make downtown more ambient and inviting in and around the old cattle ford and the historic suspension bridge.

Now, if they should spend the $5.9 million to retire the debt, it would save taxpayers $1.9 million in debt service payments – a whopping $780,000 per year in payments on interest and principal.

But what if that's not the best route to go? Who can see the future? No one. Times are hard, the future uncertain.

Commissioners batted the question back and forth for an hour, asking for the opinions of the lawyers, the County Auditor Stan Chambers.

The conundrum. Yes, they could spend the cash, but is that the wisest choice? They do have other debts out there, reminded Commissioner Lester Gibson.

Ninety percent of the question comes down to a market consideration. The bonds are callable until budget time in October. It's all about keeping an adequate reserve – in case of emergency.

“There are other uses that may come up,” said the financial advisor, the bond counsel, the auditor.

They agreed to defer their decision – there will be plenty of time.

Ditto consideration of the purchase of a parcel of land somewhere with I-35 frontage to relocate the Precinct 1 barn. Texas DOT condemned the present facility, which was built out in the country when it was first acquired and erected, to widen the freeway through town.

After an extensive executive session, the Court came back to open session, having made no decision.

Similar line items on the consent agenda were cut out of the herd, one by one, as Commissioners had concerns and questions about the bang of the buck, the effectiveness of spending folding money in quite the way requested.

A department head needs money to replace old and worn out computers – decision deferred for at least a week.

The building supervisor needs to let an $11,500 contract to a waterproofing outfit to get their expertise on how Parsons Roofing is to seal expensive leaks where water is getting in under a pre-installed roof and running down the walls, damaging equipment and expensive records.

Are there any local contractors available, asked Commissioner Kelly Snell? The man didn't know of any – at least none with the level of expertise necessary to get the job done.

Had he checked with the local builders association? No, but he will. There's always next week.

The 19th District court Reporter requested reimbursement for a keyboard and the record of a felony criminal trial that was destroyed by the leaking roof. You're looking at about a thousand dollars.

So it goes. Budget crunching time looms on the horizon. September is approaching on fleet feet, and the crew is mindful of the revenue bond obligations facing taxpayers to satisfy funds needed to build the Jack Harwell Detention Facility to suit CEC (Civigenics) Corporation, a project that drained the downtown lockup of its federally contracted prisoners and placed them in the empty new jail.

Nothing is certain and there is little happiness in the gathering heat of summer. What else is new?

Dan Patrick crawfishes on TSA anti-groping bill

Austin - When TSA representatives came to the back rooms of the Texas Senate yesterday, they brought a threat.

Pass HB 1937 – a measure that would have criminalized pat-down searches of airline passengers who refuse back scatter screening - and watch us turn Texas into a no-fly zone. The bill passed the House of Representatives with no dissent.

Without the invasive search and seizures, they told Senators, the TSA could not guarantee the safety of passengers on commercial aircraft. Ergo, no commercial flights could enter or depart from the state, effectively shutting down air transport.

Senator Dan Patrick, R-Houston, quickly withdrew the bill from consideration when he realized he no longer had the necessary 21 votes to secure its passage. He blamed Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst for swaying the bill's supporters, an allegation Mr. Dewhurst quickly denied.

Mike Walz, the lieutenant governor's communications director, said a number of Senators had approached his boss with concerns about a letter generated by U.S. Attorney John E. Murphy that threatened closure of all Texas airports serving commercial airlines.

Mr. Walz said many of the members may have changed their mind "after receiving new information."

An estimated 2% of air travelers receive the pat-down treatment after refusing electronic scanning, according to TSA spokesmen.

Texas triangle - I-35, I-10, I-45 - to open CNG stations



Jeff Dillon looked at the numbers and made a decision.

With a fleet of more than 200 trucks operating out of his Chicago headquarters and a division with a contract to haul Owens-Corning roofing shingles out of the D/FW Metroplex, the percentages became very clear.

He could stick with $4 a gallon diesel to power his Peterbilt motor freight day cabs, or go with compressed natural gas at about $1.50 per gallon. With a $30,000 price tag to convert the engines to natural gas, the figures became very clear.

Mr. Dillon chose CNG because, after all, Texas has a huge share of the natural gas play that came with the development of horizontal drilling/fracturing techniques used by outfits like Pioneer Natural Resources, Bakken, and Chesapeake Energy.

Between the Eagle Ford fields in South Texas and the Permian Basin northwest of Odessa, Texas is poised to produce – and use - more of the clean burning, cheaper motor fuel than most markets.

About 10% of America's motor freight traffic moves along Interstate Highways 35, 45 and 10 in the triangle between Dallas, Ft. Worth, Austin, San Antonio and Houston, industry spokesmen say.

The first of a projected 12 CNG filling stations will open soon in the Metroplex to keep Dillon Transport's day cabs running on CNG, according to Lynn Lyon, manager of strategic projects for Pioneer Natural Resources at Irving, and a spokesperson for America's Natural Gas Alliance. She projects natural gas motor fuel prices in the Metroplex will settle at about $1.99 per gallon – less than half what truckers pay for diesel nationwide.

Other transportation fuel markets will soon open, according to industry press releases. The transportation industry and financial markets are eagerly awaiting a major government announcement regarding the use of CNG to fuel light freight delivery vehicles and passenger cars.

The Canadian government announced a 5-year, $500,000 research grant to the University of British Columbia to develop fuel injector prototypes for natural gas engines last October.

Through the reduction of particulate emissions, using natural gas will make the world greener. “Our goal is to develop a fuel injector that will make natural gas engines competitive with diesel engines...” said UBC researcher Steven Rogak. “Natural gas has the potential to reduce greenhosue gas emissions by more than 20 percent, compared to conventional engines. But until our society places a higher price on carbon emissions, it is esential that the cleaner engine technology can compete with the incumbent technology on cost and performance.”

Public bus fleets have long run on CNG, but the major barrier to using the fuel in transport and passenger vehicles has been the lack of the means of rapid refueling. That takes infrastructure in the form of compressors equal to the task.

Major operators of delivery fleets such as UPS and Schwan's are converting their fleets to the use of CNG with the cooperation of Freightliner.

Ford and GM both offer conversion packages for medium duty freight and delivery vehicles. In fact, Ford's line of F-250 and F-550 trucks are equipped with optional fittings for conversion to the alternative fuel.

ExxonMobil just become the largest natural gas producer in the country with the acquisition of XTO for $40 billion, according to security analyst Roger Nachman.

“I see 2011 and beyond as being the time in country when natural gas begins to take over and transition the country from oil-based to eventually natural gas,” he wrote.

A major financial player bought into Chesapeake Energy (CHK), run by Aubrey McClendon. Carl Icahn upped his stake in that company to a 5.8% share and recently acquired a position in Dynegy.

In a statement, the investment bank UBS wrote “CHK has terrific shale assets but has been criticized for too aggressively acquiring undeveloped acreage, and a perception of poor financial discipline has caused CHK to trade at a steep discount to NAV. CHK may be vulnerable to activists given 1) it is trading 69% below its 2008 high stock price, 2) insiders control just 1.2% of shares outstanding (CEO McClendon controlling 0.5%), 3) recent criticism for its compensation of its CEO, and 4) a staggered board with 4 of the 9 seats up for re-election in 2011.”

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Early in the morning blues - Harry Nilsson

They call Alabama the Crimson Tide -

Let us debate the Patriot Act...

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced Tuesday evening that the Senate is moving forward with a vote to extend certain provisions of the Patriot Act, without any votes on amendments -- whether certain Republicans and Democrats like it or not.
- CBS News

I ain't gonna work on Maggie's Farm no more - Dylan

Happy birthday, Mr. Dylan - 70 years old today - yeah

California ordered to release 33,000 inmates

Washington - Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion for a bitterly divided U.S. Supreme Court ordering the release of 33,000 prisoners from overcrowded California prisons.

He was joined by the Court's liberal wing in ruling that the prison system, which has been operating at 200% of its design capacity of 80,000 prisoners, violates the U.S. Constitution's 8th Amendment prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment of ailing and mentally ill prisoners denied medical care.

Under the order, the first to be issued under a new federal law that allows U.S. District Courts to cap the amount of prisoners housed in an overcrowded state's lockups, California has two years to reduce its total prison population of 143,000 to 110,000 – about 137% of design capacity.

The state may apply for and receive more time to comply with the order in the two inmate civil rights cases under review, both of which have languished in the court system for more than 20 years.

In an unusual move, Mr. Justice Kennedy included photos of overcrowded gymnasiums where as many as 200 inmates are guarded by as few as 2 corrections officers. He also included photos of telephone booth-sized cells without toilets in which mentally ill inmates are forced to stand in puddles of their own urine and excrement for as long as 24 hours while they await transfer to a mental health facility.

A diabetic prisoner who was denied medication for hypertension began to bleed internally and was dead within 3 weeks after he finally got treatment from a nephrologist, according to allegations of complaint in one of the lawsuits. A judge in that case wrote that it appeared that the state would hire “any doctor with two hands and two feet and a pulse.”

Mr. Justice Kennedy stated that overcrowded conditions lead to disease because of a lack of sanitation and toilets, and that suicide among mentally ill convicts and inmates runs 80% higher than in the general population.

Dissenting opinions by Associate Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito expressed disdain for the order, predicting dire consequences for society if and when California's excess of prisoners are released.

The majority opinion sided with a 3-judge U.S. District Court panel that concluded that California cannot build its way out of the overcrowding crisis. The state is facing a $25 billion budget shortfall.

Though a new law has been passed allowing the transfer of prisoners from state lockups to County Jails, the legislature has so far failed to fund the County budgets to pay for housing the inmates in vacant areas of county jails.

Justice Kennedy ruled that many of the prisoners held in California prisons may be diverted to community supervision programs, since most of them have been convicted of non-violent offenses.

In the year 1998, the national prison population of non-violent offenders serving time in local, state and federal jails exceeded one million for the first time.

At the time, the Department of Justice said in a report that 52.7% of state inmates, 73.7% of jail inmates and 87.6% of federal inmates were imprisoned “for offenses which involved neither harm, nor the threat of harm, to a victim.”

In that year, there were 440,088 nonviolent jail inmates, 639,280 nonviolent state prison inmates, and 106,,090 nonviolent federal prisoners.

The U.S. Justice Council noted at the time that “Over a million people have been warehoused for nonviolent, often petty crimes, due to our inability, our choice to not sort out America's lingering social problems from those which threaten us with real harm.”

In 1998, the nonviolent prison population exceeded the population of the states of Wyoming and Alaska.

News on rapture - world will end in October this time...

Crime figures continue downward trend in 2010

Washington – FBI figures released Monday showed a 5.5% drop in violent crimes and a 2.8% decrease in property crimes compared to 2009. It's all part of a national trend that began in the early part of the new millenium.

Violent crime has continued to decrease since 2005, the last year in which tabulations showed any increase in such crimes as murder, manslaughter, forcible rape and assault. Property crimes such as burglary, vandalism, arson and car theft last showed an increase in 2002. Motor vehicle theft showed the largest decline in 2010 – down 7.2%.

Criminologists are calling the decline in crime remarkable. Statisticians and demogaphers are calling it predictable due to the aging of the baby boomer generation.

More than 13,000 law enforcement agencies contributed to the survey, which showed the safest place to be is in a city with a population less than 10,000. In the nation's smallest cities, violent crimes against persons decreased by 25.2%.

Nationwide, the only category in which violent crime rose was murder in cities of 250,000 to 500,000. While crime in the midwest and southwest declined, the only region that showed a modest decrease was the northeast with a .04% downturn. Decreases in the south - 7.5% - the midwest - 5.9% - and the west - 5.8% - were more dramatic.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Fair Tax would eliminate all payroll and income taxes

Hard core Tea Party faithful bent on eliminating IRS woes



Here's how it works, according to Killeen real estate man Jim Wright, an early and ardent supporter of the Fair Tax.

He was at a political gathering at an area home a few years ago and the incumbent Congressman was taking questions.

Would he support the Fair Tax, as introduced in a bill stuck in the Ways and Means Committee?

The man said he didn't know enough about it. He would read up on it and make a decision.

Within a few weeks, Rep. John Carter of Texas' 31st District announced he had signed on as a co-sponsor of the proposed bill that would eliminate the IRS, all forms of payroll deduction, personal income tax, corporate income tax, and taxes on capital gains – to name a few.

That's all it takes, according to Central Texas Conservatives Chairman Elwood Smith. A few determined people can change the way their government does business if they just keep on plugging.

There's a new form of plugging in town called viral marketing. Anyone with a video camera, some imagination and access to a computer can put out a YouTube.com clip and it may go viral overnight.

That's the new way of doing things.

“Five hundred really dedicated people in any Congressional District can change it. |If it's liberal, they can make it conservative; if it's conservative, they can make it liberal,” said Mr. Smith.

Speaking to a throng of about 50 hard core Tea Partiers at the Temple Public Library last night, the two men rolled out deep dish Tea Party core issues. They mentioned little doo dads like the fact that during the latest econommic slump, the recession and financial collapse that started in 2008, federal employment is up 15% - private sector job growth, only 1%.

Why?

Business organizations are sitting on their money. They are afraid to spend it until they know which direction the government will go on taxes, environmental regulation, mandatory health care, and dozens of other issues that have stymied business growth all over the lot.

If Uncle Sam would tax the consumption of newly manufactured goods and eschew taxing the means of wealth, according to Mr. Wright, a representative of Fair Tax.com, 80% of manufacturers surveyed world wide said they would suddenly find the United States an attractive place to relocate their plants.

It's the difference between a democracy and a republic, said Mr. Smith. In a democracy, if 51% of the people vote to enslave the other 49%, they are stuck with what they have got. In a republic, on the other hand, he pointed out to a friend at the meeting, people live under the authority of a government of laws, not the authority of men.

How would the Fair Tax work?

Every American would have the chance to live up to the poverty level and receive a “pre-bate” from the government based on their income; they would pay the 23% tax on new items, goods and services consumed once they had surpassed that level.

For instance, a family of two earning above the federal poverty guideline for two of $14,710 on an income of $25,000 would receive a monthly check from the Treasury up to the level of 23% of the amount of money they spend on goods and services – up to that level.

The same would hold true for a billionaire's family – up to the poverty guideline. All other expenditures above that income level would be taxed at 23%. There would be no more audits, no more deductions and no more saving receipts for seven years.

Payroll deductions for Medicare, Social Security and FICA would be a thing of the past. Period.

Who would start paying their share of taxes? Drug dealers who buy new houses and luxury cars and pickup trucks would pay their 23% just like a hardworking citizen. Illegal immigrants would pay the 23% on everything they buy. To get the pre-bate, they would have to have a valid Social Security number, a birth certificate and/or legal immigration status. According to expert calculations, the average American taxpayer spends about 33% of each dollar on various taxes - income, embedded, sales and excise. The Fair Tax system would eliminate all that. State governments would be paid by the federal treasury to collect the Fair Tax only on new items and on services.

The new system would provide a huge incentive for legitimate citizenship, Mr. Wright concluded.

Read all about it on FairTax.org
Better yet, get the book that started it all. "The Fair Tax Book" by Neil Boortz and John Linder explains the details of how the pre-bate would be calculated and disbursed, the rate of tax adjusted according to the nation's gross domestic product.

Israeli territorial imperative and defense of the '67 borders

Insurgent bombers hammering Iraqi security forces



Baghdad - More than half the people killed by car and suicide bombers yesterday morning – 9 out of 16 - were members of the security police force.

Insurgents targeted people on their way to work early Sunday morning in attacks that followed a typical pattern.

In Taji, 12 miles northwest of Baghdad, a roadside bomb halted an American military convoy. When police arrived, a suicide bomber walked into the midst of the crowd and blew himself up. Seven police and three civilians died in the blast. Of the 19 people injured, 15 are policemen.

It was only one of 10 bomb explosions in and around the capital as people hurried to work on the first day of the business week.

The message is straightforward enough, according to Captain Majid Mohammed Amin, who is a veteran police officer with service since 2000, himself a victim of two roadside bombings.

“If the security people cannot protect themselves then how can they protect you?”

"The Quartet" - Say what? Y'all say what, now?



Media Note: Office of the Spokesman

Washington, DC
May 20, 2011


"The following statement was issued by the Middle East Quartet (United Nations, Russian Federation, United States, and European Union):

"The Members of the Quartet are in full agreement about the urgent need to resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. To that effect, the Quartet expressed its strong support for the vision of Israeli-Palestinian peace outlined by U.S. President Barack Obama on May 19, 2011. The Quartet agrees that moving forward on the basis of territory and security provides a foundation for Israelis and Palestinians to reach a final resolution of the conflict through serious and substantive negotiations and mutual agreement on all core issues.

"The Quartet reiterates its strong appeal to the parties to overcome the current obstacles and resume direct bilateral negotiations without delay or preconditions. The Quartet further recommits itself to its previous statements and principles."

And that, dear hearts, is how rock and roll was invented. Because first he (Little David) rocked him (Goliath), and then he rolled him! - Brother Dave Gardner, a well-noted radio personality from Panama City Beach, Florida


Itamar Gelbman of Flower Mound, Texas, congressional candidate, Israeli Defense Force veteran, and fluent speaker of Texan, English and Hebrew says there is such a thing as the United States Jerusalem Embassy Act. "I wonder if Obama has heard of it," saith Mr. Gelbman.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerusalem_Embassy_Act

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Reynosa – Los Federales captured the head of the Gulf Cartel's operations at New Guerrero in Miguel Aleman, the nearly deserted border town across the river from Roma, Texas.

Federal Judicial Police took Gilberto Barragan Balderas, 41, and two associates into custody at a birthday party in his honor held at a rural ranch. They have charged none of them with a crime.

Mr. Balderas is wanted on a 2008 U.S. Indictment for drug trafficking and was reportedly the subject of a $5 million reward offered by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. The Gulf Cartel is the bitter rival of the Zetas, a rival faction of sicarios headed by deserters from the Mexican Army's Special Forces who once worked as enforcers for the cartel. Mr. Balderas is believed to have been in command of forces opposing the Zetas for drug smuggling and money laundering routes through that area of Tamaulipas from the border towns of Reynosa to Zapata.

The Federales said they confiscated two pistols and an assault rifle in the raid.



T'is a fine video - if you like a song that tells at story, t'is

Do you see Mr. Van Zandt? Do you? He's everywhere. He's everywhere, he is.

Let me tell you how it will be; there's one for you, 19 for me...

Conservatives call for federal tax on consumption

TEA partiers call for and end to the income tax in Fair Tax law

Imagine an end to April 15 tax woes, the elimination of income taxes.

Nearly half of Americans – 43% - would support a national sales tax; only 38% oppose replacing the income tax with the Fair Tax, according to a poll by Rasmussen Reports.

Like most tax concepts, the issue breaks down along party lines. The majority of Republicans polled – 52% - think taxing consumption would be more fair; 44% of Democrats share their opinion, and 49% of unaffiliated voters prefer the Fair Tax over the Federal Income Tax authorized by the 16th Amendment. The proposed system would eliminate tax filing for 100 million wage earners, reduce the IRS tax rolls to about 14 million, and remove the need for complicated calculations of deductions and accounting of receipts for medical expenses, mortgages and income properties.

Fair Tax is an idea that has been languishing in the House Ways and Means Committee since the 106th Congress of the 90's, studied by Presidential commissions, supported by former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, and aroused passions on both sides of the aisle in the House and Senate chambers.

Supporters call it more equitable; detractors think it's regressive and singles out the middle class to pay the majority of the tax burden – 23% on each $100 of purchases - while it skips over the wealthiest income earners and subsidizes consumers who earn below the poverty level. The rate would be adjusted annually based on the amount of federal revenue collected.

The U.S. Tax Code would be replaced with a document of 133 pages; gone would be the dozens of volumes that contain all the complex regulations governing federal taxation. Adoption of the Fair Tax would abolish the Internal Revenue Service and establish a bureau of excise tax in the Treasury Department. It would spell an end to payroll deductions for income tax, social security, and medicare; capital gains taxes would be a thing of the past, ditto corporate income taxes.

Guest speaker Jim Wright will give it a go Monday at 7 p.m. at the Central Texas Conservatives meeting, to be held at the Temple Library. TEA Party advocates promise to make the issue one of constant discussion in the election campaigns of 2012.

“If you would like to see the IRS gone and get 100% of your take home pay and only pay taxes when you decide to purchase something, then don't miss this presentation. No more income tax, no more IRS, no more keeping and filing and reporting thousands of receipts, just an additional sales tax. Think of it!” said Elwood Smith, chairman.



Saturday, May 21, 2011

I feel rivers overflowing...


Y'all say that Louisiana man can only blame himself for that flood? Haw? How you call? He don't have no slow learner, - no, him. He got some kind of fast forgotter - oh, yeah.

Congressmen still looking to close big oil tax loopholes

Washington – Undeterred by a failure to close big oil tax loopholes in Senate legislation, last week a liberal congressman introduced new legislation that would eliminate 9 forms of tax subsidy for petroleum producers.

Representative Gerry Connolly, a Democrat from a Washington, D.C., suburb, Virginia's 11th District in Fairfax County, proposes to provide each American driver an estimated $185 in relief by taking away $37 billion in tax deductions allowed oil companies under the present IRS Code.

Senate Republicans with the help of Democratic crossover votes blocked a procedural vote to bring the Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act to a vote 52 to 48, 8 votes short of the 60 required. The measure would have returned an estimated $2 billion per year to the tax coffers.

Those loopholes were added to the tax code when the price of crude was $17 per barrel, said Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley.

“Times have changed - the price of a barrel has jumped to around $100 and the most profitable big oil companies are pulling in $5 million in profits every hour,” he said. “They don't need additional taxpayer giveawways to stay afloat.”

In a press release, Conoco/Phillips CEO James Mulva called the measure and those Senators who supported it “unAmerican.” The Chief sponsor of the bill, Robert Menendez, D-NJ, took great umbrage at the statement while Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, called the bill nothing more than a smoke screen thrown up by Democrats to hide the fact that they have no plan to lower gasoline prices.

Chief complaint against tax deductions granted big oil producers is the practice of allowing them to claim royalties paid to foreign governments as taxes, thus allowing a deduction from their corporate pre-tax income.

Tax expenditures are defined by Administration executives and liberal Congressmen as government spending programs implemented through provisions of the tax code – subsidies for certain industries through a direct tax break that substantially lowers the cost of doing business.

Under the provisions of Mr. Connolly's bill, HR 1813, oil companies would lose such “tax expenditures” as these:

1. Intangible drilling costs such as wages, fuel, repairs, hauling, and supplies. Other companies must recover those costs over the life of the investment.
2. Deduction for tertiary injectants used to enhance oil recovery in such workover techniques as fracturing.
3. Depletion tax allowance of 15 percent of revenue derived from a well, even if that exceeds the well's total value.
4. Passive investments such as renting land – an estimated tax saving of about $180 million over 10 years.
5. Domestic manufacturing tax deduction for petroleum products produced in the U.S.
6. Geological and geophysical expenditures deduction of 9% of income, elimination of which would save taxpayers about $17.3 billion over 10 years.
7. Foreign tax credit claimed by companies in spite of the fact that they pay no foreign income taxes abroad, but call royalties paid a tax instead.
8. Enhanced oil recovery credit of 15% when using enhanced oil recovery techniques in domestic production when per barrel prices are less than $28.
9. Marginal well production for heavy oil within statutory limits.

Political pollsters are watching closely to see if Republicans who support the continued tax subsidies to oil companies suffer in approval ratings among senior citizens who will be hard hit by proposed cuts to such entitlement programs as Medicare program and Social Security, both of which are supported by payroll tax contributions.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Work your fingers to the bone. What do you get?

Congressmen state GDP-to-debt budget ratio numbers

National Tea Party Patriots learn hard numbers on debt ceiling deal

Conservative congressmen gave Tea Party leaders a quick snapshot in numbers of what would they will require to raise the $14.3 billion debt ceiling.

To prevent a default of the nation's full faith and credit obligations to lenders, they propose cutting the federal budget by as much as $300 billion, while at the same time imposing a cap on federal spending that would limit the budget to no more than 18% of the gross domestic product.

Secondly, they would require passage of a balanced budget amendment to prevent the possibility of imposing any new tax increases to service a rising national debt.

Central Texas Tea Party activist Jenny Beth Martin participated in a national conference call with Patriots, national Tea Party, and Republican officials.

Ms. Martin told prospective Congressional candidate Wes Riddle, the outgoing founding director of the Central Texas Tea Party, that at the Bradley Foundation Awards Banquet held last week in Washington, D.C., Congressmen and their staff members were touting the GDP to spending ratio as part of an overall strategy advocated by House Speaker John Boehner earlier this past week.

Mr. Boehner, whose district is in the Cincinnati area of the midwestern swing state of Ohio, is the co-author with former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich of Marietta, Georgia, a presidential candidate.

Mr. Riddle, an unsuccessful Republican candidate for the House in 2004, announced last month that he will seek the office of Representative if a new district is created on the I-35 corridor that includes all or part of Bell County. The census of 2010 showed a 30% increase in the population of Bell County.

Mr. Riddle is a retired U.S. Army Lt. Colonel and business operator.

In remarks to the Economic Club at a Wall Street banquet, Mr. Boehner made clear the conditions proposed by the super majority for raising the debt ceiling, but did not use any hard numbers. He did use the word "trillions" in describing the spending cuts that will be required to correct "unsustainable" benefits expenses such as Medicare and Social Security as baby boomers begin to retire in record numbers.

He said the Republican majority will not authorize raising the debt ceiling without first legislating a massive reduction in federal spending and passing a balanced budget amendment.

According to Ms. Martin, Republican Senatorial Committee members and their staff told Tea Party activists they will be mounting a “Twitter” campaign to let subscribers nationwide know moment by moment how they will vote on all budgetary items as they pass into the upper chamber from the House of Representatives.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

President Obama on Israeli borders - move back to 1967

Resolve conflicts with Palestinians through "mutual swaps" of disputed territory

The Israelites

Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood forms new political party

Egypt Pictures, Images and Photos
May 19, 2011

The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (MB) officially registered Wednesday for the formation of a new political wing, paving the way for the establishment of the Freedom and Justice Party. With parliamentary elections scheduled in September, Freedom and Justice is expected to do well at the first polls of the post-Mubarak era. Just how well is the main question on the minds of the country’s ruling military council, which would prefer to hand off the day-to-day responsibilities of governing Egypt, while holding onto real power behind the scenes.

Leading MB official Saad al-Katatny, one of the founders of Freedom and Justice, said he hopes for the party to officially begin its activities June 17, and to begin selecting its executive authority and top leaders one month later. Members of Egypt’s Political Parties Affairs Committee will convene Sunday to discuss the application and will announce their decision the next day. They are expected to approve the request. Three and a half months after the fall of Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s leading Islamist group is on the verge of forming an official political party for the first time in its history.

Following Mubarak’s ouster, MB wasted little time in seizing what it saw as the group’s historical moment to enter Egypt’s political mainstream. They announced plans to form a political party on Feb. 14. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which took over administration of the country following the deposal of Mubarak, did nothing to hinder this development, despite the military’s deep antipathy toward Islamist groups. Political instability was (and is) rampant in the country, and the military sought to find a balance that would allow it to maintain control while appearing amenable to the people’s demands, and bring life back to normal. Opening up political space to Islamist groups, including at least two emerging Salafist parties, and announcing plans for fairly rapid elections, was seen by the military as the most effective way to achieve this balance.

It bears repeating that what happened in Egypt in January and February did not constitute a revolution. There was no regime change; there was regime preservation, through a carefully orchestrated military coup that used the 19 days of popular demonstrations against Mubarak as a smokescreen for achieving its objective. Though a system of one-party rule existed from the aftermath of the 1967 War until Feb. 11 of this year, true power in Egypt since 1952 has been with the military and that did not change with the ouster of Mubarak. What changed was that for the first time since the 1960s, Egypt’s military found itself not just ruling, but actually governing, despite the existence of an interim government (which the SCAF itself appointed).

The SCAF wants to get back to ruling and give up the job of governing, but it knows that there has been a sea change in Egypt’s political environment that prevents a return to the way things were done under Mubarak. The days of single-party rule are over. If the military wants stability, it is going to have to accept a true multiparty political system, one that allows for a broad spectrum of participation from all corners of Egyptian society. The generals can maintain control of the regime, but the day-to-day affairs of governance will fall under the control of coalition governments that could never have existed in the old Egypt.

This opens the door for MB to gain more political power than it has ever held and explains why its leaders were so quick to announce their plans for the formation of Freedom and Justice in February. But the group has tempered eagerness with caution. MB is aware of its reputation in the eyes of the SCAF (and the outside world, for that matter) and is playing a shrewd game to dispel its image as an extremist Islamist group. It has been publicly supportive of the SCAF on a number of occasions, and has marketed Freedom and Justice as a non-Islamist party — it includes women and one of its founders is a Copt — based on Islamic principles. MB has also insisted that the new party will have no actual ties to the Brotherhood itself (though this is clearly not the case), while promising that it will not field a presidential candidate in polls due to take place six weeks following the parliamentary elections. In addition, MB has pledged to run for no more than 49 percent of the available parliamentary seats. This is designed to reassure the SCAF that it does not immediately seek absolute political power.

Focusing on whether the SCAF is sincere in its publicly stated desire to transform Egypt into a democracy misses the more important point, which is that the military regime feels it has no choice but to move toward a multiparty political system. The alternatives — military dictatorship and single-party rule — are unfeasible. But there are red lines attached to the push toward political pluralism, and MB is aware of these. Trying to take too much, too quickly, will only incite a military crackdown on the political opening the armed forces have engineered in the last three months. As for the SCAF, it is willing to give Freedom and Justice a chance in the new Egypt, so long as the underlying reality of power remains the same.

"Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood on the March, but Cautiously is republished with permission of STRATFOR."