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Even Superman

Has had it with U.S. foreign policy.

Imagine that

BP giving a contradictory account of emissions from one of their Texas plants:

Texas City officials—relying on air monitoring data from a BP contractor and the fire department—have said that emissions hadn’t reached harmful levels. “There was constant monitoring going on at all times and it did not reveal anything, although there’s a strong smell of hydrocarbons in the air,” Bruce Clawson, Texas City’s Homeland Security coordinator, told the Associated Press.

But that’s not what officials at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality have said. According to the environmental agency, the levels of chemical emissions were at one point so high that they maxed out the monitoring equipment. “Values were outside the range our instrument can read,” an agency spokesman told the Galveston Daily News. “Maximum readings taken by TCEQ staff were in excess of the instruments measurement capability.”

Can we afford the energy industry? Maybe someone should look into that.

Fixed

Just got back from the salon, where I got a remedial haircut to fix the one I got a few weeks ago.

My regular hairdresser (yes, I’d cheated on her and the hair goddess punished me for it) pulled my hair away from my head, frowned and said, “What did she cut this with?”

I had to think a minute. A razor, I told her.

“That’s the problem. You can’t razor-cut thick hair like this, it’s like adding split ends all over and then it all fuzzes out,” she said. (Which is exactly what my hair did.)

She muttered something about how the cutter “must have thin hair. These girls with thin hair always think everyone else’s hair is just like theirs, and it isn’t.

The reason I like this woman is, she takes her job very, very seriously. I will go now, and sin no more.

If you’re seeing an ad

At the top of the page asking you to thank Mike Fitzpatrick for “saving” Medicare, don’t. He’s a Republican who voted for the Ryan hatchet plan.

By the way

The PA House did manage to pass a bill requiring drug tests for people on welfare. Priorities!

PA residents, please call NOW

This is really important, click here and they’ll tell you who to call:

Unless Pennsylvania lawmakers take action soon, long-term unemployed workers in Pennsylvania will lose up to 20 weeks of unemployment compensation known as Extended Benefits on June 11, 2011. Senate Bill 994 would allow Pennsylvania’s unemployed to keep these federally-funded benefits.

On June 11, 2011, an estimated 45,000 unemployed workers in Pennsylvania will be cut-off of the Extended Benefits they’ve been receiving — unless the legislature acts. Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor and Industry estimates that a total of 135,000 jobless workers could lose eligibility for these benefits this year starting on June 11th.

The federal government now covers 100% of the cost of these benefits for non-government employees. All the state needs to do to continue receiving these federally-funded benefits is to enact a technical fix to the state unemployment insurance law. Senate Bill 994 would do just that.

Republicans and Democrats in every one of Pennsylvania’s neighboring states—Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland—have all recently passed the needed Extended Benefits legislation. In total, 24 states have already acted to allow individuals to continue these benefits.

Thanks to federally-funded Extended Benefits, more than $1.5 billion additional dollars flowed into Pennsylvania since the recession started — benefiting unemployed workers and businesses alike. 200,000 of us, our friends, family members, and neighbors have counted on these benefits to put food on the table and a roof over their heads.

This small legislative change, with no cost to Pennsylvania, is the only thing that stands in the way of unemployed workers being able to secure the benefits they, and the local economy, so desperately need, and that the federal government is underwriting.

It’s time for Pennsylvania lawmakers to act.

Please send a message to Senator John Gordner, Senator Dominic Pileggi and Governor Tom Corbett now!

Click on “Participate” to send Senator Gordner, Senator Pileggi and Governor Corbett a message: Don’t Cut-off Pennsylvania’s Unemployed Workers! Pass SB 994 to Continue Extended Benefits!

Also, please call them with that message:
Sen. Gordner: 717-787-8928
Sen. Pileggi: 717-787-4712
Gov. Corbett: 717-787-2500

Cops busted for selling steroids

And just to make it worse, more cops in the U.S. are using steroids. ‘Roid rage = more, worse police brutality! Three cops just charged here:

As federal prosecutors tell it, Philadelphia Police Detective Keith Gidelson had a lucrative side business running a network that illegally distributed anabolic steroids and human growth hormone.

In an indictment unsealed yesterday, Gidelson, 34, and 14 others – including Philadelphia police officers Joseph McIntyre, 36, and George Sambuca, 25 – are accused of conspiring to distribute anabolic steroids and HGH since September 2009.

The three cops – sporting tattoos and bulging biceps – were arrested early yesterday and taken to federal magistrate court in the afternoon.

Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey called it “another dark day” for the department. The arrests bring to 26 the number of city cops who have been charged with crimes since 2009.

Covering up

For the mortgage industry tax cheating! Via Naked Capitalism:

As established readers know, we’ve been writing since mid 2010 about the widespread, possibly pervasive, failure of mortgage securitization originators to convey the notes (the borrower IOU) to securitization trusts as stipulated in the deal documents, well before the robo signing scandal broke. This abuse matters because the transaction procedures were designed carefully to satisfy certain legal requirements, among them rules contained in the 1986 Tax Reform Act regarding REMICs, or real estate mortgage investment conduits, which required that the securitization trust receive all its assets by 90 days after closing and that all assets conveyed to the trust have to be “performing”, as in not in default. Failure to comply with the rules is a prohibited act and subject to taxation at a rate of 100%, and additional penalties may apply.

Now, with the Federal government under enormous budget pressure, shouldn’t the authorities be keen to go after tax cheats? The headline of a Reuters article, “IRS weighs tax penalties on mortgage securities,” would suggest so. But don’t get your hopes up. The lesson is don’t jump to conclusions when big finance is involved.

Go read if your stomach can handle it.

Psst, Allen? You’re not the boss of us

Allen West thinks he’s still in the military, and we all have to follow his orders:

BOCA RATON, Fla. — Police escorted a number of people out of a town hall meeting Wednesday night. It’s the second night in a row that Congressman Allen West held what became a heated event.

“I think they are a bunch of jerks,” said Anne Dion after police walked her outside. “That’s what I think about getting asked to leave.”

Trouble was brewing even before the event started. Sign-carrying protesters were asked to leave private property.

U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-District 22, warned the crowd about lashing out.
“You see a lot of media cameras, and the media is here because they want to see a show,” he said.

The warning did not stop supporters and critics from turning up the volume.

“I don’t care who’s yelling at me, cursing at me, or whatever,” said West. “You are still in America.”

“I feel like the country is going down the tubes, and it we don’t have somebody that does something about it, we are all in trouble,” said Karl Hotaling, a supporter.

During the public question segment, medicare proved to be a controversial topic.

“I don’t think medicare should be eliminated,” said David Torgersen, a protester. “I think it should be there when people need it.”

Life during wartime

The war on working people, I mean. Hey, thanks to all the people who voted for the truly awful Gov. Corbett here in Pennsylvania:

In a pre-School Reform Commission budget briefing, Philadelphia School District Chief Financial Officer Michael Masch said that to close a $629 million budget gap, the district must lose about 16 percent of its workforce – 3,820 jobs. That includes a reduction of 1,260 teaching jobs, or about 12 percent of the teaching force. The district says there will be a loss of 650 noontime aides, nearly 400 custodians, more than 180 counselors and 51 nurses would also face job loss. Still, it’s not yet clear how many layoffs that will mean, because an early retirement offer has been made to employees, and we don’t know how many folks will take advantage of that.

The district will also lose full-day kindergarten. It’s going to a half-day program, as was in place years ago. Kindergarten is actually not mandated by the state – though everyone offers it, Pennsylvania doesn’t require children to attend school until age 7 in Philadelphia, and even older in the rest of the state. That doesn’t mean that cutting K is a good idea, but it’s possible because it’s not required.

The teachers’ union has already come out condemning cuts to kindergarten and early childhood education. (PFT says that 1,000 fewer children will get early childhood services next year.) Jerry Jordan, PFT president, said: “We are outraged by the short-sighted and indiscriminate cuts the school district is making to balance its budget. Targeting pre-school programs that are proven to prepare youngsters to be successful in school is unconscionable.” Jordan, in a news release, said the district’s Comprehensive Early Learning Centers will close entirely.

The district will also be cut – but not eliminate – transportation, special ed, summer school, art and music budgets. Class sizes, for the most part, will go up to contractual limits – 30 students in K-3, 33 in grades 4-12. The central office budget will be cut by a whopping 50 percent – it will lose 430 jobs. Instrumental music and the district’s athletics program both stay, with trims. (Though both are vulnerable, Masch pointed out – if anything gets worse, both instrumental music and athletics would have to go.)

And you’ll never guess — they want to reopen the teachers’ contracts!

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