Horrors

I am oh so shocked that there could be anything crooked about the tangled web of for-profit education and political connections. Who could have known?

Without warning, Delaware Valley High School – a for-profit education firm whose records were recently subpoenaed by a federal grand jury – has laid off all 50 teaching and administrative employees at the four alternative schools it operates in the region.


Staffers said lawyer David T. Shulick, whose company operates the schools, owes them each thousands of dollars for work during the 2011-12 academic year. They had been expecting back pay last week but got furlough notices instead.


In late February, the FBI raided Shulick’s Logan Square law office, searching for documents related to Delaware Valley’s relationship with Chaka “Chip” Fattah Jr., 29, whose father is U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, a Philadelphia Democrat. They also interviewed Shulick.

Delaware Valley had paid 10 percent of its $4.5 million contract with the Philadelphia School District for the 2010-2011 school year to 259 Strategies L.L.C., a minority firm owned by Fattah Jr., who had an office in Shulick’s law firm. After firing Fattah Jr. last summer, Shulick rehired him in December but did not renew his subcontract.

Never enough

No matter how much they get, they want even more:

Over a four years period from 2008 to 2011, Corning Inc. was one of 26 companies that managed to avoid paying any American income taxes, even though it earned nearly $3 billion during that time. In fact, according to Citizens For Tax Justice, the company received a $4 million refund from 2008 to 2010. That didn’t stop Susan Ford, a senior executive at the company, from telling the House Ways and Means Committee this week that America’s high corporate tax rate was putting her company at a disadvantage:

American manufacturers are at a distinct disadvantage to competitors headquartered in other countries. Specifically, foreign manufacturers uniformly face a lower corporate tax rate than U.S. manufacturers, and virtually all operate under territorial systems which encourage investment both abroad and at home.

Ford told the committee that Corning paid an effective tax rate of 36 percent in 2011, but as CTJ notes, she is counting taxes on profits earned overseas that haven’t yet been paid and won’t be unless the company decides to bring the money back to the United States. Corning’s actual tax rate in 2011, according to CTJ’s analysis, was actually negative 0.2 percent.

The territorial system Ford testified in favor of would actually encourage the offshoring of profits earned by American companies, thereby reducing the amount they pay in taxes even more. And rather than helping remove a disadvantage that prevents companies from creating jobs, an economic analysis of such a tax system found that it could actually cost the United States as many as 800,000 jobs.

Blame the liberal media

I knew it was only a matter of time before some good fear-mongering evangelicals would connect the imaginary dots between a massacre at a Batman movie and people’s stubborn refusal to accept the world as these religious “leaders” would have us see it:

On the conservative Christian radio show AFA Today, evangelical spokesperson Jerry Newcombe blamed the tragedy of the Aurora shooting on the nation’s loss of fear of God and hell. Discussing the victims, Newcombe argued that the non-Christians were going to Hell:

If a Christian dies early, if a Christian dies young, it seems tragic, but really it is not tragic because they are going to a wonderful place.. on the other hand, if a person doesn’t know Jesus Christ.. if they knowingly rejected Jesus Christ, then, basically, they are going to a terrible place.

Newcombe is a spokesperson for Truth in Action Ministries, which has two nationally syndicated television programs and a combined audience of over half a million on television, radio, and the Internet. In a column in One News Now, Newcombe wrote that the shooting was evidence that “we’re reaping what we’ve been sowing as a society,” explaining, “Lawsuit after lawsuit, often by misguided ‘civil libertarians,’ have chased away any fear of God in the land.”

On the same radio segment, Fred Jackson, the host and director of the American Family Association, similarly blamed Hollywood, liberal media and churches for contributing to mass shootings:

I have to think that all of this, whether it’s the Hollywood movies, whether it’s what we see on the internets, whether it’s liberal bias in the media, whether it’s our politicians changing public policy, I think all of those somehow have fit together—and I have to say also churches who are leaving the authority of Scripture and losing their fear of God—all of those things have seem to have come together to give us these kinds of incidents.

Jackson’s American Family Association is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center – and I have to say, he sounds pretty hateful to me.

Easy

Let’s hear it for a well-regulated militia!

DENVER — Unhindered by federal background checks or government oversight, the 24-year-old man accused of killing a dozen people inside a Colorado movie theater was able to build what the police called a 6,000-round arsenal legally and easily over the Internet, exploiting what critics call a virtual absence of any laws regulating ammunition sales.


President Obama met Police Chief Daniel Oates and Mayor Steve Hogan in Aurora, Colo., on Sunday.
With a few keystrokes, the suspect, James E. Holmes, ordered 3,000 rounds of handgun ammunition, 3,000 rounds for an assault rifle and 350 shells for a 12-gauge shotgun — an amount of firepower that costs roughly $3,000 at the online sites — in the four months before the shooting, according to the police. It was pretty much as easy as ordering a book from Amazon.


He also bought bulletproof vests and other tactical gear, and a high-capacity “drum magazine” large enough to hold 100 rounds and capable of firing 50 or 60 rounds per minute — a purchase that would have been restricted under proposed legislation that has been stalled in Washington for more than a year.

Guardian: LIBOR arrests ‘imminent’

Here’s the part that makes me skeptical: They’re going after “individual” traders? Are we really supposed to believe that this scandal doesn’t go all the way to the top? Isn’t this the sort of thing Sarbanes-Oxley was supposed to fix? Because either way, the executives running the banks are supposed to take legal responsibility – and so are the board members. We’re supposed to believe these were simply individual acts? Nah, I’m not buying it:

American prosecutors and European regulators are close to arresting individual traders over the Libor scandal and charging them with colluding to manipulate global benchmark interest rates, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

Federal prosecutors in Washington DC have recently contacted lawyers representing some of the individuals under suspicion to notify them that criminal charges and arrests could be imminent, said two sources speaking anonymously.

Defence lawyers representing individuals under suspicion said prosecutors have indicated they will begin making arrests and filing charges in the next few weeks. In long-running financial investigations it is not uncommon for prosecutors to contact defence lawyers for individuals before filing charges to offer them a chance to co-operate or take a plea, the lawyers said.

Alongside the investigation into how traders allegedly sought to influence the London Interbank Offered Rate, or Libor, and other global rates there in an effort by regulators to punish major banks with fines.

“The individual criminal charges have no impact on the regulatory moves against the banks,” said a European source familiar with the matter. “But banks are hoping that at least regulators will see that the scandal was mainly due to individual misbehaviour of a gang of traders.”

“More than a handful of traders at different banks are involved,” said the source.

There are also probes in Europe concerning Euribor, the Euro Interbank Offered Rate.

It is not clear what individuals and banks federal prosecutors are most focused on. A top US Department of Justice lawyer overseeing the investigation did not respond to a request for a comment.

Urban hellhole

Went to the local pool today, and we pretty much had the place to ourselves. As far as I could tell, no blood or bodies in the water.

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