Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Sunday 'Report;' 01/22/2012

What The National Pamphleteers Don't Report:
Eco-friendly car refrigerant 'turns into deadly gas it vehicle catches fire'
by Henry Samuel,
January 17, 2012A new "eco-friendly" car refrigerant expected to become the industry standard turns into a deadly gas if the vehicle housing it catches fire and should be shelved, it has been claimed.  The coolant for car mobile air conditioning systems, called HFO-1234yf, has been approved for use in the US, Japan and Europe and Toyota and Suburu have started fitting their cars with the substance.  It was chosen as it is produces 98 per cent less climate damaging that its predecessor, R134a.  However, a German expert on the compound has warned that it is should be scrapped as it is much more flammable than the current coolant and when heated above 500C (932F) releases hydrogen fluoride, a highly toxic gas. Temperatures in car fires can easily reach twice that heat. 
    "You have 600g of this cooling agent per car, which if it burned completely would produce 200g of hydrogen fluoride at a level of concentration that is very high. For a human just one gram is deadly – either inhaled in gas form, through the skin or when dissolved in water," warned Prof Andreas Kornath, an inorganic chemistry professor at Munich University who has been studying the substance for 20 years.  The odourless gas has no instant effect but once inside the body a person dies within a day or so in terrible pain due to internal burns and muscle failure.  "This product should not be on the market. There is a real risk every time a car catches fire, which happens 30,000 times [....]

9 Popular Tax Breaks You Can No Longer Count on in 2012
by David Muhlbaum
January 17, 2012.
    You’ll face a higher tax bill next spring if Congress doesn’t act to revive a series of tax breaks that expired Dec. 31, 2011. Among the breaks that Congress didn’t extend in all the sturm-und-drang over the payroll tax holiday are:
Alternative minimum tax patch
The AMT is a parallel tax system created more than 40 years ago to prevent excessive use of tax breaks by the very wealthy, ensuring they pay at least some tax. Taxpayers whose income exceeds the AMT exemption – in 2011, $48,450 for individuals and $74,450 for married couples filing jointly – must calculate both regular tax and AMT liability and pay the larger of the two amounts. But exemption levels have, at least tentatively, dropped to $33,750 for individuals and $45,000 for married couples filing jointly in 2012, which will expose 31 million taxpayers to the higher AMT this year, according to Tax Policy Center estimates.
Higher mass transportation benefit
This one's of particular interest to straphangers, van-riders and other users of public transit. A 2009 federal stimulus provision raised the maximum an employee could receive for transit, tax-free, from $  [....]

Allen West on the Marines Incident: 'Shut Your Mouth, War Is Hell'
by Daniel Halper,
January 13, 2012

Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), a former Army lieutenant colonel, sends THE WEEKLY STANDARD an email commenting on the Marines' video, and has given us permission to publish it.
“I have sat back and assessed the incident with the video of our Marines urinating on Taliban corpses. I do not recall any self-righteous indignation when our Delta snipers Shugart and Gordon had their bodies dragged through Mogadishu. Neither do I recall media outrage and condemnation of our Blackwater security contractors being killed, their bodies burned, and hung from a bridge in Fallujah.
“All these over-emotional pundits and armchair quarterbacks need to chill. Does anyone remember the two Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division who were beheaded and gutted in Iraq?
“The Marines were wrong. Give them a maximum punishment under field grade level Article 15 (non-judicial punishment), place a General Officer level letter of reprimand in their personnel file, and have them in full dress uniform stand before their Battalion, each personally apologize to God, Country, and Corps videotaped and conclude by singing the full US Marine Corps Hymn without a teleprompter.
“As for everyone else, unless you have been shot at by the Taliban, shut your mouth, war is hell.”

Armed UAV Operations 10 Years On
Staff Report,
January 12, 2012

    One of the most iconic images of the American-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- as well as global U.S. counterterrorism efforts -- has been the armed unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), specifically the MQ-1 "Predator" and the MQ-9 "Reaper." Unarmed RQ-1 Predators (which first flew in 1994) were flying over Afghanistan well before the 9/11 attacks. Less than a month after the attacks, an armed variant already in development was deployed for the first time.
    In the decade since, the Predator has clocked more than a million flight hours. And while U.S. Air Force procurement ceased in early 2011 -- with more than 250 airframes purchased -- the follow-on MQ-9 Reaper has already been procured in numbers and production continues. Predators and Reapers continue to be employed in a broad spectrum of roles, including close air support (CAS), when forward air controllers communicate with UAV operators to release ordnance with friendly troops in the vicinity (CAS is one of the more challenging missions even for manned aircraft because of the heightened risk of friendly casualties). Officially designated "armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude, long endurance, remotely piloted aircraft," the second to last distinction is the Predator and Reaper's principal value: the ability to loiter for extended periods, in some cases for more than 24 hours.  This ability affords unprecedented situational awareness and physical presence over the battlefield. The implications of this are still being understood, but it is clear that it allows, for example, the sustained and constant monitoring of main supply routes for attempts to emplace improvised explosive devices (IEDs) or the ability to establish a more sophisticated understanding of high-value targets' living patterns. In addition, live, full-motion video for ground controllers is available to lower and lower echelons to an unprecedented degree.
    As the procurement of Predators and Reapers and the training of operators accelerated -- particularly under the tenure of former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, beginning in 2006 -- the number of UAV "orbits" skyrocketed (an orbit is a single, continuous presence requiring more than one UAV airframe per orbit). There are now more than [....]

Baltimore elementary school to kids: Wear purple or sit in the library
by MJD,
Shutdown Corner
January 20, 2012
    The Baltimore Ravens have a "Purple Fridays" caravan that motors around the city hosting pep rallies for their precious purple Ravens. They've done it all year and it continues into the playoffs.  One stop Friday was at Roland Park Elementary where the kids were happy to hang out with Poe and Rise & Conquer, partially because they love the Ravens and partially because they weren't locked in the library.  In advance of the pep rally, a teacher wrote an email to parents indicating that any kid who didn't wear Ravens gear wouldn't be allowed to attend the pep rally but would be stuck in the library instead. From the Baltimore Sun: [....]

Cities With the Highest Rising Home Prices
by Patricia Mertz Esswein,
January 12, 2012
    The housing markets in most of these cities missed the bubble and bust altogether, and home prices continued to climb steadily after the national market went bust. These cities have diversified their economies, enjoy rising population and job growth, and have relatively low rates of unemployment and foreclosure.  The cities on this list that did go bust, such as Cape Coral, Fla., are beginning to recover, although home prices may still be bouncing around the bottom as buyers (particularly investors) dash in to nab bargains. The likelihood of continued double-digit price increases is slim, especially as more foreclosures come to market.
    All of the metropolitan areas we've ranked have a population of at least 200,000. Change in home prices reflects the one-year period through September 30, 2011, when the national average was -2.6% and the median home price was $171,250. We also report the change since the national peak in home prices, in the second quarter of 2006. Sales and inventory numbers were drawn from the most current market reports (October or November 2011). Unemployment rate is as of October 2011, when the national average was 8.5%. Foreclosure rate is as of September 30, 2011, when the national average rate was 1 of every 213 housing units, or 0.47%.
5. Rochester, N.Y.
One-year change in home prices: 7.1%
Median home price: $114,900
Change in price since peak: 6.7%
Unemployment rate: 6.7%
Foreclosure rate: 1 of every 2,220 housing units (0.05%)
Home prices rose 7.1% in Rochester over the past year.
Rochester, headquarters of flailing Kodak, is another of those well-kept secrets of upstate New York. Or, as one local real estate agent says, "It gets a bad rap for the lagging upstate economy, job layoffs and snow, but once people come, they don't want to leave."  Sales rose [....]

Economic Freedom Country Rankings; overall score
January 15, 2012
#1 Hong Kong
Hong Kong’s economic freedom score is 89.9, making its economy the freest in the 2012 Index. Its overall score is 0.2 point higher than last year, with improvements in freedom from corruption and the control of government spending partially offset by a small decline in monetary freedom. Hong Kong is ranked 1st out of 41 countries in the Asia–Pacific region. [....]

Don Bosco's Yuri Wright, a possible Rutgers recruit, expelled for graphic tweets

by Mike Vorkunov,
The Star-Ledger
January 19, 2012Don Bosco Prep cornerback Yuri Wright, who has listed Rutgers among his final suitors, was expelled from the school Wednesday for comments he made on Twitter. The tweets — which began in July, spanned the football season and continued until as late as Jan. 7, according to a screen grab of his feed posted on several websites — were sexually graphic and racial in nature. His account was subsequently taken down and phone calls made in an attempt to reach him were unsuccessful.  “He’s a good kid and I think [....]

Facebook: Friends' Happy Pictures Make You Sad?

by Matthew Rosenbaum
January 19, 2012
There are plenty of reasons to feel down in today's fast-paced, hectic world, and you wouldn't think that the world's most popular social networking site would be one of them. But that's exactly what a new study by Utah Valley University has found.  According to the study, Facebook is making us sad. Why? It's all about the kinds of pictures people to post on their pages.  Facebook photos generally depict smiling, cheerful people having good times, conveying a sense of happiness. Of course everyone likes to smile for the camera, so that good cheer may be inflated or false. As others view the photos, they may believe this conveyed sense of intense happiness is real, making them think that their friends are much happier than they are.  Sociologists Hui-Tzu Grace Chou and Nicholas Edge said they interviewed 425 students, asking them whether they agreed or disagreed with such statements as "Many of my friends have a better life than me," and "Life is fair."  They also asked about the students' [....]

Fox and Elway agree: Tim Tebow’s earned the right to start in 2012

by Doug Farrar
Shutdown Corner
January 16, 2012
If there was any doubt about Tim Tebow's ability to drive a passing offense at the NFL level, it most likely went away when the second-year quarterback made several big-time throws against a Pittsburgh Steelers defense that loaded up against the run in the wild-card win. That 29-23 upset over the Steelers was followed by a 45-10 rout in the divisional frame at the hands of the New England Patriots in which Tebow regressed as a pure passer, most obviously because New England's point total forced the Broncos to pass more often, and the Patriots' defense knew it.
Anyone who worried that Tebow's performance against the Pats would have team president John Elway and head coach John Fox looking elsewhere for a starting quarterback in the 2012 preseason need concern themselves no longer — in the Broncos' season-ending press conference on Monday, both Elway and Fox made it very clear that Tebow is their guy going forward.  "I think Tim has earned the right to be the starting quarterback going into training camp next year," Elway said. "I think that [....]

H.R. 3674: Promoting and Enhancing Cybersecurity and Information Sharing Effectiveness Act of 2011 (PRECISE Act)

Lungren (R - CA)
Official Title:
A bill to amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to make certain improvements in the laws relating to cybersecurity, and for other purposes.
12/15/2011: Introduced in House
12/15/2011: Referred to House Homeland Security Committee
12/15/2011: Referred to House Judiciary Committee
12/15/2011: Referred to House Oversight and Government Reform Committee
12/15/2011: Referred to House Science, Space and Technology Committee
12/15/2011: Referred to House Select Intelligence Committee
This bill, creating a large government infrastructure to face cybersecurity threats, also establishes a new criminal offense. Part of this comprehensive legislation includes the National Information Sharing Organization, which is charged with connecting government, companies, and individuals (members) in order to share information about cybersecurity threats. Some of the information passed will be confidential. It is unlawful for an individual associated with the organization, including government and member [....]

Key fact fails to occupy Globe story

by Jessica Heslam-Media Reporter
January 18, 2012

The Monday Boston Globe featured a photo on the front page of its Metro section of a lip-locked couple who “found romance” at Occupy Boston.  “Holding hands outside the food tent before the encampment disbanded,” read the accompanying story, “they were the archetype of an Occupy couple: he, a red-headed Mainer with tattoos on his arms; she, a petite upstate New York girl with a heart-shaped face and a boyish haircut, wearing a knit grandmother sweater three sizes too big.”  Good details — but the story failed to mention one big one: Robert “Red” Stitham, the 25 year-old beau whose relationship with Anya Karasik, 18, is the focus of the piece, is a [....]

MLK Day speech from Bishop Reginald Jordan

January 16, 2012
“The only thing that comes to a sleeping man is a dream”-Tupac Shakur
The one thing that a sleeping man and a visionary have in common is dreams.
But, neither a sleeping man or a visionary changes our society, our culture, and certainly not the world. Only the doer’s, the engaged, the invested, the one who lays down his life for a cause that’s greater than himself will in spite of chaos and challenges, change the inequities and ill’s of our reality.  When examined closely and considered honestly, our reality can be quite discouraging and frightening to one who has hope for the day when a man is not judged by the color of his skin but by the content of his character, because if the truth be told, while many would celebrate how far we’ve come, in many ways we’ve retreated more so than we’ve advanced.
The prayer was to be judged by the content of our character:
Not long ago we fought for the right to get a fair and quality education, yet now our youth refuse to go to school and learn basic [....]

Obama Shreds The Constitution Again

by Chip Wood,
Personal Liberty Digest

January 13, 2012
President Barack Obama made four recess appointments last week.Guess what? Barack Obama has found an opponent whose approval ratings are even lower than his own. So to kick off his re-election campaign, he’s decided to run against Congress.  The campaign against the obstructionist, do-nothing Congress started in earnest last week, when Obama decided to ignore the U.S. Constitution, recent Presidential tradition and even his own vote when he was a U.S. Senator by making four “recess” appointments.  There was just one teeny tiny problem with the stratagem; Congress wasn’t in recess. 
In case you missed the story — which was easy to do, because most Americans neither cared about it nor understood it — let me give you a condensed version of what happened. This is no mere tempest in a teapot, by the way. As I’ll explain below, this seemingly silly confrontation could have enormous legal implications for our country.  The brouhaha began last month. Rather than adjourn for the Christmas holidays, Republicans in Congress decided to do the absolute minimum to keep Congress in session, holding “pro-forma” meetings every three days. Basically, all it took was one Senator showing up, declaring the session open [....]

You can’t measure tax progressivity while ignoring income trends

by Andrew Fieldhouse,
The Economic Policy Institute
January 20, 2012

Mark Thoma does a terrific job explaining why the purported measure of tax progressivity favored by many conservatives doesn’t measure tax progressivity. Former Bush Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, the inspiration behind Thoma’s post, insinuated that those lucky duckies at the bottom and middle of the earnings distribution should be paying more because their share of federal taxes paid has been [....]

[Related Content] Should We Feel Sorry for the Wealthy?
by Mark Thoma,
The Economist's View
January 18, 2012The editors at CBS asked me to respond to Ari Fleischer's tweets about how tax burdens have changed in recent years:
Are the wealthy paying to much in taxes?:
Ari Fleischer, the former White House Press Secretary for U.S. President George W. Bush , has been trying to make the case on Twitter that the wealthy are taking on more of the tax burden than ever. Here's a sample of his tweets:
@AriFleischer The share of total federal tax paid by bottom 60% dropped from 22.5% in '79 to 14.4% today. Source: CBO
@AriFleischer The share of total federal tax paid by middle income dropped from 21% in '79 to 16.5% in '07.
@AriFleischer The share of total federal taxes paid by top 10% rose from 40.7% in '79 to 55% in '07.
The share of total federal taxes paid by top 1% rose from 15.4% in '79 to 28.1% in '07
Of course, the argument is incomplete without [....]

[Related Content] March of the “lucky duckies”
by Farhad Manjoo,
December 21, 2011    On Nov. 20, the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal began worrying that most Americans don’t pay enough in taxes. That was a shock — since the editorial page, a leading forum for conservative thought in America, has always led the charge to cut taxes. But in an editorial titled “The Non-Taxpaying Class,” editors agonized over the fact that the federal government gets most of its money from wealthy people. The top 5 percent of Americans — people who earn about $120,000 or more a year — “coughed up more than half” of tax revenue, the paper said, while poor people pay almost nothing. A worker who [....]

Yes, You Can Dump Your Bank

by Ismat Sarah Mangla
January 13, 2012
Does "ditch my bank" make your list of resolutions for 2012? Join the club.
Americans' simmering resentment toward big banks seems to have finally bubbled over: In the month after Bank of America threatened a monthly fee on debit cards, 221,000 folks joined more consumer-friendly credit unions -- equal to about a third of the new members for the entire previous year.  In addition, customers of the 10 largest retail banks are so fed up with rising fees and dismal rates that the institutions stand to lose a combined $185 billion [....]

Obama Wants Internet ID

by Sam Rolley,
The Personal Liberty Digest
January 13, 2012

The Commerce Department will soon have the authority to implement an “identity ecosystem” for the Internet.The Administration of Barack Obama is planning yet another assault on the Internet privacy rights of all American citizens, some critics say.  The Administration is currently drafting a plan that will hand over to the Commerce Department the authority to implement an “identity ecosystem” for the Internet with the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace to be released in coming months.  According to CNET, details about the Obama Administration’s [....]
Until Next Sunday....



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