Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Last Call

And Trayvon Martin's killer will finally, finally face justice.

Prosecutors Wednesday charged a neighborhood watch guard with second-degree murder in the killing of an unarmed US black teenager that sparked nationwide anger amid suspicions it was racially motivated.

“Today, we filed an information charging George Zimmerman with murder in the second degree,” Florida state attorney general Angela Corey told a press conference.

“I can tell you, we did not come to this decision lightly,” she added after a weeks-long investigation into the February death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, is accused in the fatal shooting of Martin during an altercation inside a gated community in the central Florida town of Sanford.

Corey also confirmed that Zimmerman, who had gone underground, was now in custody in Florida and would appear in front of a judge at an appropriate time.

As far as the second degree charge, Florida law requires a grand jury before a first-degree murder charge can be brought.   So either Corey has the evidence she needs and the DoJ has put the fear of God into them...

...or it's a hell of a sandbag job.  It's all going to come down to the police investigation and the chain of evidence.  If it's compromised, Zimmerman will walk.  If that happens, I'm not sure what will transpire afterwards.

We'll see.

Teach It, Preach It

Alyssa Rosenberg with the feel-good story of the year so far.

In the days after it became clear that a winning MegaMillions ticket had been sold in Maryland, speculation ran rampant over who would come forward to claim it, especially after a woman named Mirlande Wilson first claimed to be the winner, then said she’d lost the ticket. Now, more details have emerged about the real winners, and as Maryland Lottery Director Stephen Martino said “It couldn’t have happened to nicer people.”

While the winner’s names are being kept private, it turns out the three of them work in Maryland’s public education system as an elementary school teacher, a special education teacher, and an administrative assistant—and all of them work second jobs as well. They do not work in the same school, but know each other from work, and each contributed $20 to go in on tickets as a pool. They will take home $35 million after taxes, and according to Martino, plan to purchase homes, travel in Europe, and pay for their children’s college educations. And, in a nice little rebuke to ugly sentiments that paint public school teachers and public servants as lazy, Martino said they plan to keep teaching.

Because they love teaching and love their kids, but had to get a second job.  Now?  Not so much the need for a second job.  Hell, they could quit tomorrow.  Republicans would have you believe teachers are all lazy gold-diggers who fleece the system.

And I know what Republicans will say next:  "Well these government parasites should donate their salaries back to the taxpayers.  Better yet they should donate all their winnings to balance their school district's budget and save all the taxpayers millions!  If they don't they're WORSE THAN SATAN."

You know, so we can cut taxes on the rich.  Good luck with that in Maryland, by the way.  To these three teachers in Maryland?  Stay teaching and godspeed!

Science. It Works.

Boy, does it work.

WEST LAFYETTE, Ind., USA--The Purdue Society of Professional Engineers team smashed its own world record for largest Rube Goldberg machine with a 300-step behemoth that flawlessly accomplished the simple task of blowing up and popping a balloon - setting the new world record for the Largest functional Rube Goldberg machine, according to World Records Academy. 

You are not worthy.

Add This To Your List Of Bad Words

Phyllis Sclafly, the "godmother of conservatism" spoke to an all-male audience and told them to avoid feminists.  This is from a successful woman, by the way.  
"Feminist is a bad word and everything they stand for is bad," she went on. "Find out if your girlfriend is a feminist before you get too far into it. Some of them are pretty."
The ability of the GOP to find women willing to sell out their own kind is mind-boggling.  How do they convince women to remain quiet, let alone play the roles that Bachmann and Palin had in destroying women's image and respect in politics.

Watch out for the pretty ones.  If they are too mouthy or bossy, best you go looking for a nice submissive woman, who knows how to obey her husband (like Bachmann).  Or get a gal who isn't intellectually challenging, someone who will lose every battle of wits and achieve subservient perfection through stupidity (Palin).

Or grow a pair and get a partner, not a decoration.  I suppose it is the fellow's choice, but I couldn't imagine respecting a man who believed everything feminists stand for is bad.

Hackers Score Again

The Utah Department of Technology Services (DTS) notified the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) on Monday the server that houses Medicaid claims was hacked. On Wednesday, the UDOH publicly announced the breach. On Friday, DTS revealed the damage: 181,604 Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) recipients had their personal information stolen. Of those, 25,096 appear had their Social Security numbers (SSNs) compromised.
The agency is cooperating with law enforcement in a criminal investigation. The hackers, who are believed to be located in Eastern Europe, breached the server in question on March 30, 2012.

This sort of thing can't be helped, but it's a good reason why businesses must be diligent.  Medical information is privileged, combined with family history, social security numbers, allergies, medication and vulnerabilities listed leave victims exposed in every way possible.

So far, no reports have indicated that the Utah Department of Health failed to protect those records to the best of their ability.  Even the best systems can fail to the best hackers.  It's just another reminder that no information is safe, no protection is foolproof.

Ryan Rhymes With Lyin', Part 2

K-Drum calls out the Ryan Plan, claiming that he'll be able to balance the budget by cutting taxes.  And where's the other half of the equation coming from?  Ryan won't say.

Here's why this is so important. Ryan's proposed tax cuts are above and beyond the Bush tax cuts, which he wants to make permanent. According to the Tax Policy Center, this means that Ryan's plan would cost an additional $400 billion in revenue in 2015. So to stay revenue neutral, he needs to eliminate deductions and tax credits worth about $400 billion. The technical name for all these deductions and credits is "tax expenditures," and the table below, compiled from a recent report of the Joint Committee on Taxation, shows their estimates for the total value of tax expenditures in 2015:

Do you see how hard this is? The big ticket items are things like taxing healthcare and pension benefits; the mortgage interest deduction; the Earned Income Tax Credit; the charitable contribution deduction; various state tax deductions; and exclusions for Medicare and Social Security benefits. Needless to say, those are going to be eliminated over a whole bunch of dead bodies. Other big ticket items include tax breaks on dividends, capital gains, inheritances, and offshore income, and all of those would be eliminated only over Paul Ryan's dead body. There's not a single thing in this entire table that wouldn't be a stupendous political lift, and the prospect of eliminating not just one of them, but $400 billion worth of them, is very slim indeed.

So yes, unless Paul Ryan's plan is to tax 401(k) plans, the mortgage deduction and employee health care plans, he's basically lying.  Of course, there's a pretty good chance that this is his plan all along, getting rid of all that and the Earned Income Tax Credit while saying that "too many Americans don't pay income tax".

And remember, Mitt Romney is 100% behind the Ryan Plan.

Greek Fire, Part 55

Meanwhile, European fears involving the Pain in Spain as the Greek Fire makes tapas out of the country's economy are beginning to take a toll on the US markets.  Dow's closed down 350 points in the last two days.

Spanish bonds tumbled as Economy Minister Luis de Guindos declined to rule out a rescue for the nation as 10 billion euros ($13 billion) of additional budget cuts failed to alleviate investor concerns. Analysts project that profits at non- financial S&P 500 companies grew last quarter at the slowest rate since 2009 as companies from McDonald’s Corp. to 3M Co. saw gains in the world’s largest economy eroded by a slump in Europe.

“The surge in Spanish yields puts the European debt crisis back on U.S. investors’ radar screens, front and center,” Mohamed El-Erian, the chief executive officer of Pacific Investment Management Co., said in an e-mail today. Last week’s lower-than-forecast growth in U.S. payrolls “has eroded investor confidence about America’s self-sustaining ability to overcome headwinds from Europe.” 

More than even Mitt Romney, Europe's crumbling economy may be the President's biggest foe this fall.

The slump in Spanish bonds drove the difference in yield, or spread, with German 10-year bunds, the region’s benchmark government securities, to 4.33 percentage points, the most since November. The Italian 10-year yield rose 23 basis points to 5.69 percent, sending the spread over bunds to 4.04 percentage points, the most since Jan. 31 on a closing basis.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy yesterday unexpectedly announced a 10 billion-euro package of budget cuts in education and health, less than two weeks after unveiling the most austere budget in more than three decades. Rajoy is targeting basic public services for the first time since his election in December in a bid to convince investors he can bring order to the nation’s finances.

Bank of Spain Governor Miguel Angel Fernandez Ordonez said the nation’s lenders may need additional capital if the economy weakens more than expected

And where, pray tell, does this capital come from?  Stay tuned as the Greek Fire continues to burn, baby, burn...


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