Posts tagged ‘Democratic National Committee’

NSA Report Means More Trouble For 60 Minutes


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On the same day reports circulated that the reporters behind a fatally flawed, retracted 60 Minutes story may return to CBS News’ airwaves as soon as early January, the program again faced criticism for a report that critics are calling a “puff piece” and an “infomercial.”

On December 15, 60 Minutes aired a report on the National Security Agency based on unprecedented access to its headquarters and interviews with Agency staff, including its chief, Keith Alexander, who discussed the concerns many Americans have about its operations since the disclosures by Edward Snowden.

The segment opened with reporter John Miller’s acknowledgement that he had once worked at another federal intelligence agency. It featured no critics of the NSA. Miller explained his thoughts on the story in an interview with CBS News, saying that the NSA’s view is “really the side of the story that has been mined only in the most superficial ways. We’ve heard plenty from the critics. We’ve heard a lot from Edward Snowden. Where there’s been a distinctive shortage is, putting the NSA to the test and saying not just ‘We called for comment today’ but to get into the conversation and say that sounds a lot like spying on Americans, and then say, ‘Well, explain that.'”

Miller’s report was immediately ripped apart by NSA critics and veteran journalists. Some have called the veracity of CBS News’ reporting into question. Others termed the segment a “puff piece” and an “embarrassing” “infomercial,” saying that it filmed was under guidelines that overwhelmingly favored the agency and proved the effectiveness of the NSA’s communications staff.

The NSA report is only the latest of several heavily criticized 60 Minutes stories. Most notably, the network wasforced to retract and remove from the airwaves the reporters responsible for a segment based on a supposed eyewitness to the 2012 Benghazi attacks who apparently fabricated his story. The day after the NSA story ran and less than three weeks after the leaves of absence were announced, Politico reported that those journalists, Lara Logan and Max McClellan, have “started booking camera crews for news packages” and could return to 60 Minutes as early as January. In recent weeks the program has also been criticized for reports onSocial Security disability benefits and Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos.

This series of debacles was noted by former CBS News correspondent Marvin Kalb, who was at one time the moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press, who wrote that a program that “used to be the gold standard of network magazine programs” is increasingly “under fire.” He concluded:

What’s clear from this episode is that 60 Minutes is not facing another Lara Logan embarrassment. Miller did not get his facts wrong; he just did a story on 60 Minutes that should never have been on 60 Minutes. It was a promotional piece, almost by his own admission. In addition, the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley did a story on the 60 Minutes Miller piece to help promote it, as though it were an exceptional exclusive, which it was not.

In a funny way, all of this fresh criticism can be seen as a compliment. People expect 60 Minutes to be a place on the dial for tough questioning and rigorous reporting. When it does anything less than that, it opens itself to snap judgments that may be unfair but should not be surprising. It should, though, suggest strongly that CBS has further need for continuing self-examination.

Politico‘s Dylan Byers similarly opined that 60 Minutes has had “a terrible year” and that the program “is desperately in need of a news package that earns it praise rather than criticism.It needs to put up a hard-hitting investigation, fact-checked to the teeth, that doesn’t come off as a promotional puff-piece. Because its reputation as the gold standard of television journalism has taken some serious hits of late.”

Miller referred questions from Media Matters about the segment to a CBS News spokesperson who declined to comment on the record.

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Harris-Perry on poverty: ‘Those aren’t numbers. Those are people’



Harris-Perry on poverty: ‘Those aren’t numbers. Those are people’ (via Raw Story )

MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry debut a new regular segment Sunday focusing on poverty, which she noted many people did not want to touch, even as the national poverty rate remained at 15 percent of the population last year, or just over 46 million people, with 21.9 percent of them being minors. “…

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Inspite GOP Big Donors They Were Beat Down



Deluge of Republican money made little difference (via AFP)

Despite their funding deluge from wealthy donors, Republicans failed to overwhelm President Barack Obama and Democrats at the ballot box. So was throwing all that money at the 2012 election worth it? Obama was handily re-elected, Democrats added two more seats to their majority in the Senate, and they…

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Drone on the Range


Drone on the Range.

Those very same pilotless, remote-controlled, undetectable planes that the CIA has been secretly using to spy on and bomb people in Pakistan and elsewhere are headed to our local police departments.

Get ready, America. Here comes “the next latest and greatest thing in aviation.” Wow, what could it be? Maybe the airlines are going to drop all of their ridiculous rip-off fees. That’d be great!

No, no, not that kind of aviation. You probably won’t find this breakthrough so great. It’s the arrival and proliferation of “unmanned vehicle systems,” soon to be buzzing around the airspace of your own town.

Yes, drones, right here at home. Those very same pilotless, remote-controlled, undetectable planes that the CIA has been secretly using to spy on and bomb people in Pakistan and elsewhere are headed to our local police departments, FBI offices, and…well, who knows who else will have these toys?

All we know is that Congress — under pressure from Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and other big drone peddlers — directed the Federal Aviation Agency earlier this year to open up civilian air space to thousands of them by 2015. And, in their wisdom, our loosey-goosey lawmakers provided no regulation of who can have drones, how many, or for what purposes.

So prepare to be pestered and monitored, for police agencies and corporate interests are said to be abuzz about getting their own. The first ones are expected to be used for high-altitude surveillance, which is worrisome enough. But consider this: A Texas sheriff’s office that has already bought a “ShadowHawk” drone says it might outfit the little buzzer to fire tear gas and rubber bullets.

No worries, though. The drone industry’s lobbying group has drafted a two-page code of conduct urging purchasers to “respect the privacy of individuals.”

How nice. Only, it’s a voluntary code — and totally unenforceable. For more information about this invasive swarm, contact the Electronic Privacy Information Center: http://www.epic.org.
This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.
Jim Hightower

Chicano Documentary PBS The Stealing Of Mexico Land Legally By The USA


Colorado’s New Public Disservice Adversiting Campaign


By Amy Mall, NRDC

This post was originally published at Switchboard, NRDC’s staff blog

There is something unusual about the latest newspaper and radio advertisements from the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA). While there is nothing new about the oil and gas industry spending money to convince Americans that fracking is safe, what sets the latest ads apart from typical industry propaganda is that the spokesperson in these ads is Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper.

In the radio ad, the Governor states that Colorado has not had “one instance of groundwater contamination associated with drilling and hydraulic fracturing” since Colorado enacted some new rules in 2008. It’s true that Colorado’s 2008 rules were a vast improvement compared to the previous rules.

But that doesn’t mean that the rules are strong enough, that all fracking activities are safe in Colorado, or that human health and the environment are sufficiently protected. The 2008 rules were a step in the right direction, but did not go far enough to protect communities and their citizens from dangerous air pollution, groundwater contamination, and enormous amounts of toxic waste.

In Colorado, archaic rules allow toxic oil and gas facilities to be as close as 150 feet to a child’s bedroom window. These operations can be in someone’s backyard and on their property without consent if a family does not own the rights to the oil and gas beneath its land–and most Coloradans do not.

The COGA ads tout the latest Colorado rule requiring disclosure of fracking chemicals. While disclosure is essential to preserve the public’s right to know about chemicals in their community, and NRDC calls for nationwide disclosure of fracking chemicals for better regulation of this industry, disclosure is only one part of what’s needed in a comprehensive regulatory structure to protect health and the environment from the dangers of fracking. Disclosure alone does not prevent drinking water contamination–rather it lets citizens know what chemicals might be in their drinking water after it has been contaminated. And many of the chemicals can still be kept secret by oil and gas companies.

The risks are real. From 2009-2011, there were more than a thousand spills related to oil and gas operations in Colorado–many of which impacted groundwater and/or surface water with potentially highly toxic materials. Last September, the Denver Post reported that four oil and gas companies alone had 350 spills in Colorado in less than two years. The Post highlighted one spill that contaminated groundwater with benzene–a known carcinogen. In 2010, a Las Animas County landowner found approximately 500 gallons of grayish brown murky water in his cistern that he believes is linked to nearby hydraulic fracturing. This family has extensive water testing documentation going back many years, verifying that their water was always clean and clear until the nearby fracking took place.

The newspaper ad states it is ”brought to you as a public service,” which makes it sound like a “public service announcement,” but this is misleading. While the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission decided that it is okay for elected officials to use their personal credibility and the position of their office to better educate the public on issues relating to their government position, in its decision, the Ethics Commissions used examples of public service announcements that discuss the importance of voting, filling out the census form, retrieving unclaimed property, and discouraging the illegal use of alcohol.

None of those examples promote one industry or mislead the public with a false sense of security about considerable and well-documented public health and environmental threats.

What’s needed in Colorado and across the nation are strong rules to protect drinking water sources, clean air, healthy communities,and wildlands from the threats of oil and gas development at all stages of the extraction process. Ads that ignore, and appear to try to hide, very real risks are not only a disservice to the public, but will only prolong the public’s distrust of the oil and gas industry and underscore the justifiable demands of communities to keep the industry out of their backyards and schoolyards. Instead of ads that appear to promote the oil and gas industry without acknowledging and addressing the risks, we hope Governor Hickenlooper will instead focus his energy on new and stronger protections for Colorado’s clean water, clean air, and quality of life.

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Posted on February 28, 2012  | Filed Under Global Warming and a New Energy Economy, Protecting America’s Waters | Leave a Comment

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Revised Obama Tax Plan: Higher Dividend Tax On The Wealthy | True Tax Facts | Digg Mynews


It seems out of nowhere, President Obama has made a significant change in his tax plan proposal. Obama’s 2013 budget year now calls for more taxes on the wealthy, specifically a higher tax on dividends.

His new tax plan calls for an increase of the dividend tax to a maximum of 40% for households earning $250,000 a year. Coincidentally, that is equal to the higher maximum income tax rate set to go into effect in 2013.

According to the Obama administration, the increase in the dividend tax rate is needed to pay down the federal deficit and to make the tax code more progressive.

“Choices had to be made,” a senior Obama administration told reporters, explaining the bid to raise more than $200 billion over a decade with the steeper dividend taxes on the wealthy.

In addition to an increase in the dividend tax rate, the Obama administration is proposing to raise the current 15% long-term capital gains tax to 20% for the wealthiest Americans.

If you look closely, the Obama tax plan to tax the rich seems like an election year campaign ploy to win the lower and middle class vote. Fortunately for the wealthy and big corporations, it is extremely unlikely that Obama’s tax provisions will be become law, including his dividend tax increase.

“This is a reversal of what was a very specific policy feature of the first three budgets to keep dividends and capital gains taxed at the same rate,” said Michael Mundaca, a former top Treasury tax official under Obama, now at the accounting firm Ernst & Young.

“Companies may be more likely to retain earnings or seek alternatives ways to distribute their earnings such as by buying back stock,” Mundaca said.

Tax experts believe that big corporations may accelerate 2013 dividend payments into 2012 to dodge tax hikes.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we see moving all their 2013 dividends into 2012,” Kies said. “A lot of U.S. companies are sitting on cash.”

source: reuters.com

Tags: budget deficit, dividend tax, dividend tax increase, Income Tax, obama administration, obama tax, obama tax plan, Tax Experts, tax increase, tax plan

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February 13, 2012
Obama Tax Plan Calls For Buffet Rule

After four consecutive years of one trillion dollar-plus deficits, the U.S. administration predicts a budget deficit drop below 1 trillion. That’s what President Obama’s budget plan calls for based on his proposed tax and spending policies.

One of the biggest contributors to reducing the deficit calls for a raise in the income tax rate on the wealthy. The so-called “Buffett Rule” would guarantee that households making more than $1 million a year pay at least 30% of their income in taxes.

This proposal was actually presented by America’s wealthiest businessman, Warren Buffett. To support this tax proposal, he used the real life example that it’s unfair that he (being a billionaire) pay a lower tax rate than his secretary.

The implementation of the Buffet Tax would raise approximately $1.5 trillion dollars. Additional sources of revenue to reduce the deficit would come from a tax reform plan that includes the expiration of the Bush Tax and the elimination of various tax preferences.

Will Obama’s tax plan work, or will it backfire?

Maybe the focus of cutting the deficit should be on creating jobs. New jobs mean more tax revenue and less expenditures to pay the unemployed.

Tags: budget deficit, buffet rule, buffet tax, obama tax, obama tax plan, tax plan, tax proposal, Tax Rate, tax revenue

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February 10, 2012
Free Tax Help For Preparing Your Return

The IRS has a new online tax tool to help low and middle income taxpayers find local sites to get free tax help. The free tax help is made available by individuals in the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs.

The tool, available 24 hours a day, makes it easier for qualified individuals to find free tax help directly from the Internal Revenue Service. Taxpayers with incomes of $50,000 or less can get their taxes done for free by IRS volunteers. Senior citizens aged 60 and older can get free tax help from volunteers in the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program.

Taxpayers can access the application by clicking on this free tax help tool link or by going to irs.gov and entering the letters “VITA” in the search box. Next, click on the “Free Tax Return Preparation For You by Volunteers” option, then select the “Find a VITA site near you” option.

Once there, an easy-to-use locator prompts users to enter a zip code to search thousands of free tax preparation sites, narrowing the results to a selected radius. VITA sites are listed by location name, address, phone number, days and hours of operation, and the language-assistance options offered. Finally, taxpayers select a specific tax preparation site to get a map to provide step-by-step directions.

More than three million tax returns were prepared by VITA and TCE volunteers in during the 2011 tax season.

The IRS is continually improving its website to provide the latest tax information to taxpayers.

source:irs.gov

Tags: free tax help, irs tax help, irs volunteers, Tax Help, Tax Preparation, VITA

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Revised Obama Tax Plan: Higher Dividend Tax On The Wealthy | True Tax Facts | Digg Mynews.