SEPTEMBER 9, 2013
For years, Newark Mayor Cory Booker said that he was not working for a law firm that held millions in city government contracts. Now it turns out he was not telling the truth. He blames his accountants for the error.
On his last three federal tax forms, Booker said he got $689,500 in payments from the DiPasquale law firm. He checked the box on the form that said he “materially participated” in the firm. To materially participate, IRS rules say, you have to have worked over 500 hours in that year – that’s about a quarter of the year full time.
Booker says his accountant checked the box in error and that he did not notice it when he signed the return. He says an amended version is being filed without the box checked. This error – if that’s what it was – was on his last three tax returns.
The New York Post reports that “Booker, a Democrat running for US Senate against Republican Steve Lonegan, has repeatedly said he stopped working for the government-linked firm in 2006, soon after taking office, to avoid “the appearance of impropriety.”
He insists the money he continued to collect from the firm from 2007 to 2012 wasn’t salary but part of a confidential “separation agreement” or buyout.
On Friday, his campaign gave reporters three hours to look over 15 years of Booker’s tax returns. They were not allowed to make copies or take photos.
From 2007 to 2012, the firm, where Booker was once a partner, raked in more than $2million in fees from agencies over which Booker had influence.
Since 2007, the firm has raked in $1,287,639 in legal fees from Newark’s Housing Authority, $554,663 from a local wastewater agency and $212,318 from the Newark Watershed, records say.”
ADMINISTRATION CONCEDES IT DOES NOT HAVE PROOF BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT OF ASSAD’S CHEMICAL WEAPON USE
White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough conceded yesterday that the Obama Administration does not have “irrefutable, beyond-a-reasonable-doubt” proof that Assad was behind the use of chemical weapons in Syria. He said a “common sense test” made him believe that it was Assad who used the gas.
His common sense analysis is based on the fact that the gas was delivered by rockets and that Assad has rockets but the rebels do not. But Saudi Arabia does. So isn’t it possible the attacks came from that source.
Congressman Justin Amash, Republican of Michigan, who opposes the use of force says “the evidence is not as strong as the public statements that the president and the administration have been making. There are some things that are being embellished in the public statements. … The briefings have actually made me more skeptical about the situation.”
Congressman Buck McKeon, Republican of California and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, says that the evidence shows that the regime was “probably” behind the attack, but, he says “they haven’t linked it directly to Assad, in my estimation,”
Obama’s aide, McDonough said that even though the Administration couldn’t reach the beyond a reasonable doubt standard, “this is not a court of law and intelligence does not work that way.”
But are we to commit our troops and kill people on both sides based on probability? If we use the beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard to send an accused suspect away for years, can we use a lesser standard to kill thousands in an air strike?
Usually wars are not based on intelligence, but on actual conduct by the other side. Our intelligence on WMDs in Iraq was faulty and we learned, in retrospect, how easily we can be manipulated by intell findings.
KERRY SAYS SYRIA ATTACK WOULD BE UNBELIEVABLY SMALL
Defending his proposed air strike of Syria, Secretary of State John Kerry said the attack would be “an unbelievably small, limited kind of effort.”
OK, but will that accomplish his goal of degrading Assad’s ability to use gas in the future and to deter its use?
The strike keeps shrinking before Congressional approval but will keep increasing after. It always does.
SYRIAN REBELS CAPTURE CHRISTIAN VILLAGE; FORCE CONVERSIONS TO ISLAM
Syrian rebel forces, including elements linked to al Qaeda, captured the Christian village of Maaloula whose residents speak Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke. Christian residents say Syrian rebels ordered them to convert to Islam or face death.
One Maaloula resident said the rebels, many of whom had beards and shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is great), attacked Christian homes and churches shortly after moving into the village.
‘They shot and killed people. I heard gunshots and then I saw three bodies lying in the middle of a street in the old quarters of the village.
Another Christian resident said: ‘I saw the militants grabbing five villagers and threatening them and saying, “Either you convert to Islam, or you will be beheaded”.’
Villagers said they heard several foreign accents among the rebels, with many feared to be Al Qaeda fighters imported into the conflict. A villager said he heard mainly Tunisian, Libyan, Moroccan and Chechen dialects.
SYRIAN DICTATOR ASSAD DENIES GAS USE
Syrian dictator Assad denied the he used gas against the rebels and suggested that those opposing him may have been responsible. Assad said “There is no evidence that I used chemical weapons against my own people.”
Charlie Rose, who conducted the interview said that Assad “denied that he had anything to do with the attack – he denied that he even knew there was a chemical weapons attack.”
And while Mr Assad refused to confirm or deny whether his government has chemical weapons at its disposal, he stressed that even if they did their use would be under centralized control – so could not be fired without his knowledge.
The Syrian leader reportedly reiterated his belief that there was no evidence his government used chemical weapons on its own people.
OBAMA ADMINISTRATION REVERSED BUSH POLICY AGAINST SEARCHING AMERICAN PHONE DATABASE WITHOUT WARRANT
In 2008, intelligence officials in the Bush Administration asked the FISA court to bar NSA operatives from searching their phone database for information intra-America phone calls without a warrant. The FISA court agreed. In 2011, Obama intelligence officials reversed the Bush policy and asked the FISA court to allow it to search its database for American to American calls without a warrant. Again the FISA court said OK. This is all newly revealed by the release of a 2011 opinion by the FISA Court allowing the database searches.
While the Obama Administration insists that it is not “targeting” Americans, it is searching their phone call and e mail records without warrants. Sounds like targeting to me!
Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, alluded to this policy – which he likely was not allowed to spell out – when he said that the NSA had a “backdoor” way to access American phone records without a warrant.
POVERTY RATES IN NJ AT 52 YEAR HIGH
A larger proportion of New Jerseyites live in poverty than at any time since 1960, a new report said today.
In the past year, the poverty rate has risen by one point and since 2008, it is up 4 points to its current level of 25%. Poverty in New Jersey is defined as having a family income of less than $37,000. That’s twice the national definition because of NJ’s higher cost of living.
The report found that:
• A record high of more than 630,000 children — 31.2 percent — lived in poverty
• Of families headed by single mothers, 22 percent were poor compared to 3.6 percent of families headed by a married couple.
• African-Americans and Hispanics had poverty rates at least three times higher than whites.
• Burlington had a poverty rate of 18%, Camden 28%, and Gloucester 19%, compared to the state average of 25%.
LIFE EXPECTANCY DROPS FOR WHITE HIGH SCHOOL DROPOUTS
A white woman who dropped out of high school can now expect to live to 73. In 1990, she could expect to live to 78. For white men who dropped out, the life span dropped from 70 to 67. Among blacks of both sexes, life expectancy rose regardless of their educational levels.
The disparity between the life expectancies of educated and uneducated Americans is shocking.
A white man who graduates from college will live 13 years longer than one who drops out of high school. Among white women, the gap is 11 years.
Commenting on the findings by the Mac Arthur Foundation Research Network on an Aging Society, writer Writer Monica Potts said “It is an unheard-of drop for a wealthy country in the age of modern medicine. Throughout history, technological and scientific innovation have put death off longer and longer, but the benefits of those advances have not been shared equally, especially across the race and class divides that characterize 21st-century America. Lack of access to education, medical care, good wages, and healthy food isn’t just leaving the worst-off Americans behind. It’s killing them.”
OBAMA TO CUT MILITARY AND VETERAN HEALTH CARE
As part of his budget cuts, President Obama has decided to cut medical care for currently serving members of the armed forces and veterans, but to make no change in the benefits available to civilian Defense Department employees.
The cuts will fall most heavily on military retirees. Premiums for Tricare, the military health program, will rise immediately by 30-78 percent. After that the plan will impose five year increases ranging from 94 to 345 percent, a tripling of current levels. A retired Army colonel with a family currently pays $460 a year but will soon see his premium go up to over $2,000.
For active duty military, the cuts will force soldiers to make higher co-payments for pharmaceuticals and would eliminate incentives for using generic drugs.
As part of the increased healthcare costs, the Pentagon also will impose an annual fee for a program called Tricare for Life, a new program that all military retirees automatically must join at age 65. Currently, to enroll in Tricare for Life, retirees pay the equivalent of a monthly Medicare premium.
Under the proposed Pentagon plan, retirees will be hit with an additional annual enrollment fee on top of the monthly premium.
Why the cuts? Administration officials told Congress that one goal of the increased fees is to force military retirees to opt out of the Tricare program entirely and get their insurance through Obamacare.”
The roughly million civilian employees in the Defense Department will not be asked to pay more, a move that critics charge is motivated by the administration’s effort to court labor unions, as government unions are the only segment of organized labor that has increased in recent years.
TEEN SUMMER JOBS DOWN SHARPLY
In 1999 half of all teens 16-19 had summer jobs. Now only a third do. The drop in summer employment from 52% then to 32% today. A key change in their lives and their preparation from work. Some say they will become a lost generation.
OBAMA BLIND TO MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD THREAT
Testifying before Congress, James Clapper, Obama’s director of national intelligence said “the term Muslim Brotherhood is an umbrella term for a variety of movements. In the case of Egypt, [the Brotherhood is] a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried Al-Qaeda as a perversion of Islam.”
Oh really, what about the church burnings, murders, and rapes this largely “secular” movement has orchestrated in the name of Islam?
Obama’s personal infatuation with the Brotherhood goes back, publicly at least, to his now famous speech at Cairo University in 2009. There he insulted the Egyptian government by inviting members of the Muslim Brotherhood and seating them prominently in the front of the auditorium. Then he launched an incomprehensible speech that showcased a distorted and uncritical view of Islam and put Islam and America on the same footing.
Could it be that the alleged link between Malik Obama, the president’s half brother, and the Muslim Brotherhood is influencing his thinking? The associate justice of the Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court charged in a TV speech last month that Malik is the investment advisor for the Brotherhood in Egypt. It gives brotherhood, even half brotherhood, a bad name.
NUMBER OF AMERICANS PAYING NO INCOME TAX IS DROPPING
As a result of the suspension or expiration of some of the stimulus tax cuts Obama passed to fight the recession, the number of Americans not paying any income tax has dropped from 47% in 2009 – the figure Romney famously cited during the campaign – to 43% and is likely to drop to one-third of Americans in the next ten years, according to a think tank projection.
That’s good news since it gives more Americans skin on the tax game.
100,000 PHILADELPHIANS ARE ABOUT TO WALK AWAY FROM 4400 EACH
Only two hundred of the three hundred thousand residents of Philadelphia who are eligible for the homestead tax exemption next year have applied. And Friday is the deadline.
The exemption lops $30,000 off the assessed value of your home and cuts your tax bill by about $400.
To get the exemption you have to prove only two things: One that you own the home and two that it is your primary residence.
So apply already. What are you waiting for?