AT&T wants to have their cake and eat it too

I don’t understand how a corporation could get subsidized by the federal government and still write that off on their taxes! Now they’re complaining about the rules changing with the new health care bill.

When the Medicare prescription drug program was passed in 2003, it included a provision granting employers a subsidy of 28%, or up to $1,330, per retiree for prescription drug costs.

Even though the federal subsidies were already tax free, employers could still write them off on their income taxes, in addition to writing off their own contribution. The new law, signed by Obama on Tuesday, maintains the subsidy as a tax-free incentive to employers, but prohibits them from taking it as a deduction.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs defended this change on Thursday, explaining that the previous law essentially allowed for two deductions – one for the employer’s own contribution, and another for the tax-free federal subsidy.

Harvard and anti-unionism

With the high esteem that a school like Harvard is held in you would think that this would not be the case.

On Thursday, March 25th at 5 PM, nearly 70 protesters converged at 1350 Massachusetts Ave. in front of Harvard’s Holyoke Center administration building to protest Harvard’s policies toward its employees. The protest was called by a group of Harvard United Clerical and Technical Workers Union members.

According to the Harvard Crimson, the group is called Reform HUCTW, and is “a leftist core group.” Reform HUCTW’s grievances against Harvard include the policy of converting union jobs to seasonal temporary positions, as well as outright layoffs, in spite of Harvard’s 26 billion dollar endowment.

Waiter, there’s a virus in my GlaxoSmithKline vaccine!

Why am I not surprised.

Haven’t we had enough of pig-derived viruses in the last year? The Food and Drug administration announced this week that health-care providers should suspend the use of a certain vaccine for rotavirus, which can be a serious disease in young children causing severe diarrhea, dehydration, and even death. The first vaccine for rotavirus was introduced in 2006.

Academic researchers found DNA from an unexpected virus, known as porcine circovirus 1 (PCV1) in the Rotarix vaccine, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline. The PCV1 virus is not known to cause disease in pigs or humans, according to the FDA. “There is no evidence at this time that there is a safety concern,” said FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg, M.D.

What happens when pharmacies go wild

This is sad and pathetic and probably happened due to lax regulation.

Doctors in the United States wrote more than four million prescriptions last year for nitroglycerin tablets, heart drugs placed under the tongue to reduce the chest pain angina or to stop a heart attack.

But the majority of the drugs sold had not been approved for sale, nor had their safety and effectiveness been vetted, by the Food and Drug Administration.

And many doctors, who discovered only last week that pharmacies were giving their patients unproved heart tablets, now say they have no way of knowing whether patients have suffered unnecessarily as a result.

I’d like to know which pharmacies were responsible for this. It has to include major pharmacy chains.

Textbook Definition of a Tea Bagger “Tea Party Patriot”

I was reading the article in The Nation. about the Mad Tea Party when a paragraph describing what the Tea Party is made up of hit me. Thank Jonathan Raban from the New York Review of Books for writing this.

teabagger

\tea-BAG-ger\,noun;

1. An uneasy conclave of Ayn Rand secular libertarians and fundamentalist Christian evangelicals, birthers, Birchers, racists, xenophobes, Ron Paulites, cold warriors, Zionists, constitutionalists, vanilla Republicans looking for a high and militia-style survivalists.

Don’t let WMATA (Metro) cut back!

I was getting off the escalator at Dupont Circle South this morning when I was handed a flyer by someone from the DC Sierra Club. The flyer altered me to the proposed cuts to the metro system.

  • No rush hour 8-car trains
  • No Yellow Line between Mount Vernon Square and Fort Totten
  • No Yellow Line between King Street and DC late nights and weekends
  • Longer waits for trains and buses at all times
  • 30-minute waits for trains at night
  • Many bus routes eliminated or shortened
  • Train stations opening later — 30 minutes on weekdays, an hour on weekends
  • Train stations closing earlier on weekends — as early as midnight instead of 3am
  • Buses starting later in the morning and ending earlier in the evening
  • Many bus routes eliminated at night or on weekends
  • Closing some rail station entrances and even some stations entirely evenings and weekends

WMATA is facing a $190 million dollar budget deficit. The metro system of the nation’s capital cannot be allowed to function the way WMATA is saying it will have to function. It should not even be operating as it is now, does anyone remember what happened in the summer near the Takoma Station or the derailment of a train at Farragut North? I believe that the metro system should be federalized! It is ridiculous that it has to depend on so many municipalities for its funding.

Wachovia: Money Laundering “R” Us

Banking giant Wachovia Corp. will pay $160 million to settle a federal investigation into laundering of illegal drug profits through Mexican exchange houses in the largest case of its kind ever brought against a U.S. bank, prosecutors in Miami said Wednesday.

“This is historic,” acting U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Sloman said. “There is no other case like this one anywhere.”

The probe, which began in 2005 when a Drug Enforcement Administration narcotics dog in Florida detected cocaine traces in an airplane, ultimately uncovered at least $110 million in drug profits laundered from Mexico through Wachovia. The total settlement includes forfeiture in that amount plus a $50 million fine.

via Wachovia Settles Money Laundering Case For $160M : NPR.

I’m sad that this is actually my bank! What kind of system do you have in place that would allow this to happen?

From there, investigators from the DEA, Internal Revenue Service and other agencies tracked billions of dollars in wire transfers, bulk cash shipments and other transactions from the Mexican exchanges through Wachovia. Many were considered suspicious, including such tactics as multiple round-number wire transfers on the same day for a single account; deposits of traveler’s checks with sequential numbers that contain unusual markings; and bulk cash transfers up to 50 percent larger than a customer had led Wachovia to expect.

Don’t they do security trainings with their employees? Of all the layers these transactions have to go through from the platform all the way to paperwork processing center–no one caught this?

The pandora’s box opened with Citizens United v. FEC

This interpretation of the First Amendment is going to create real trouble for the Court when Congress gets around to closing the gap that the Court’s opinion seems to create. If it is the regulation, and not the speaker that matters, then the Chinese are no different from the Chamber of Commerce. So how can the Court honestly uphold the inevitable law limiting the Chinese from campaigning, when they’ve just told us that identity doesn’t matter?

One need not be xenophobic to be troubled by the idea of foreign influence in American elections. Certainly the Framers were. The point is not that foreigners are evil. It is rather that elections are private. It is we—citizens—who are to select who is to govern us. And it is completely appropriate for us to protect the debate we have about that selection by limiting disproportionate spending by non-citizens.

via Citizens Unite | The New Republic.

I hope the disagreeing Supreme Court Justice Alito–whom showed his disapproval of Obama’s take on the ruling at the SOTU– will be happy when candidates backed by foreign governments start running in elections.

SEIU Endorses Arlen Specter In PA

Republican turned Democrat Arlen Specter is being endorsed by the Service Employees International Union in Pennsylvania’s Democratic U.S. Senate primary. SEIU says Specter is well-known as a fighter for Pennsylvania. The union said Specter has been there for SEIU and close to 100,000 SEIU members in Pennsylvania are now there for Specter. In endorsing Specter SEIU pointed to his support for increasing the minimum wage, for the economic recovery act and for unemployment compensation extensions.

via SEIU Endorses Arlen Specter In PA Democratic Senate Primary – 03/17/10 | Workers Independent News.

Well personally I’d have rather seen Joe Sestak get the endorsement, but I’m sure there are reasons that SEIU is going with Specter. All I’m saying is he better vote for the Employee Free Choice Act if he makes it back to Capitol Hill.

2012 is not looking good for the world

With huge bills about to hit corporations and the federal government around the same time, the worry is that some companies will have trouble getting new loans, spurring defaults and a wave of bankruptcies.

The United States government alone will need to borrow nearly $2 trillion in 2012, to bridge the projected budget deficit for that year and to refinance existing debt.

Indeed, worries about the growth of national, or sovereign, debt prompted Moody’s Investors Service to warn on Monday that the United States and other Western nations were moving “substantially” closer to losing their top-notch Aaa credit ratings.

via Payback Time – Avalanche of Maturing Junk Bonds Looms for Markets – NYTimes.com.

This may actually makes the subprime loan debacle look timid. What’s sad is that this will be used by conservatives to promote belt-tightening by the federal government. Where were they during the eight years of the Bush administration and the Iraq war?

I suppose some measures will have to be taken to stop the federal deficit from increasing. Hopefully, the Congress and the White House will not first go to cutting social programs to the bone and look at other things that could possibly be cut back on.

As for corporations whose bonds are set to mature if they can’t raise new capital or even default on their debt, can we continue to bail them out? I would say that this is not likely. Their days of getting corporate welfare seem to be numbered. We’re going to have to rethink the entire economy of the United States. Hopefully we’ll move from the neo-liberal, free market, Friedmanesque ideology to something more democratic.