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  1. #15736

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    Can someone explain this to me?

    Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is going to Canada for surgery
    Thomas Novelly, Louisville Courier Journal Published 10:45 a.m. ET Jan. 14, 2019 | Updated 1:56 p.m. ET Jan. 14, 2019

    Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, one of the fiercest political critics of socialized medicine, will travel to Canada later this month to get hernia surgery.

    Paul, an ophthalmologist, said the operation is related to an injury in 2017 when his neighbor, Rene Boucher, attacked him while Paul was mowing his lawn. The incident left Kentucky's junior senator with six broken ribs and a bruised lung.

    He is scheduled to have the outpatient operation at the privately adminstered Shouldice Hernia Hospital in Thornhill, Ontario during the week of Jan. 21, according to documents from Paul's civil lawsuit against Boucher filed in Warren Circuit Court.

    The procedure is estimated to cost anywhere from $5,000 to $8,000, according to court documents. lists a hernia repair costing between $4,000 and $8,000.

    Shouldice Hernia Hospital markets itself as "the global leader in non-mesh hernia repair," according to the clinic's website.

    While Shouldice Hernia Hospital is privately owned — like many Canadian hospitals — it receives a majority of its funding from the Ontario government and accepts the Ontario’s Hospital Insurance Plan.

    The hospital's website outlines payments it accepts, including cash, check or credit card for those patients, like Paul, who are not covered by Ontario's insurance plan or a provincial health insurance plan.

    Kelsey Cooper, a spokeswoman for Paul, said the hospital is privately owned and people come from around the globe for their services.

    “This is more fake news on a story that has been terribly reported from day one — this is a private, world renowned hospital separate from any system and people come from around the world to pay cash for their services,” Cooper said in an email to the Courier Journal.

    Paul often argues for private market solutions to American's health care woes.

    In Canada, medical care is publicly funded and universally provided through the country's Provincial Ministry of Health, and everyone receives the same base level of care.

    Paul has called universal health care and nationalized options "slavery."

    “With regard to the idea whether or not you have a right to health care ... It means you believe in slavery," Paul said in 2011. "You are going to enslave not only me but the janitor at my hospital, the person who cleans my office, the assistants, the nurses. … You are basically saying you believe in slavery.”

    Boucher pleaded guilty in March to attacking Paul after they reached a breaking point over lawn maintenance.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

  2. #15737
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    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    Aw... A pain in the crotch has a pain in his crotch...

  3. #15738

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    Jeremy Diamond
    ‏Verified account

    No Democrats will attend Trump's meeting with congressional leaders today. Trump invited some moderate House Democrats in an effort to peel off votes from Pelosi, but they all rebuffed his invite. Statement from @PressSec:

    Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer run a tight ship. Tiny isn't used to that.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

  4. #15739

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    ‘The essence of involuntary servitude’: Federal unions sue the Trump administration to get paid for shutdown work

    By Deanna Paul , Katie Zezima and Spencer S. Hsu January 15 at 11:15 AM

    Rick Heldreth has worked in federal prisons since 1997, drawn to the work for the job security, good salary and benefits. But he and his colleagues at United States Penitentiary Hazelton in West Virginia have been working without pay since the government shut down on Dec. 22, sapping morale and leading to an uptick in violent incidents, he said. Now Heldreth’s union, the American Federation of Government Employees, has sued the Trump administration to try to recoup lost wages.

    “The biggest thing to me is these lawsuits are hopefully a deterrent to the government in the future to stop repeatedly doing this,” said Heldreth, who was involved in another lawsuit filed after the 2013 government shutdown. “Maybe they won’t use federal employees as a negotiating tool.”

    The American Federation of Government Employees is among three unions, along with a number of government employees, that have filed suit against the Trump administration, alleging that employees should not be forced to work without being paid. U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon in Washington is scheduled to hear three of the cases on Tuesday, consolidated claims that the National Treasury Employees Union and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association filed against the government. The list of affected agencies includes the Internal Revenue Service, Customs and Border Protection, the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Parks Service, the Agriculture Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Federal Communications Commission.

    Leon said he planned to rule immediately from the bench — meaning he could issue a temporary restraining order compelling the government to pay its employees — a move that could affect the partial government shutdown and force movement in the White House or on Capitol Hill. In the event the government is forced to pay workers or allow them to go home, it could break the shutdown impasse or lead to critical jobs going vacant indefinitely.

    “If he rules in our favor and determines it was unconstitutional for the government to require workers to come to work and not pay them, it should put pressure on political branches to come to some resolution and end the shutdown,” said Greg O’Duden, the general counsel for the National Treasury Employees Union, which has filed two lawsuits against the government.

    The lawsuit before Leon argues that forcing certain employees to work without pay violates the law establishing that federal agencies cannot spend money that has not been authorized by Congress — the union argues that by promising pay later, it is spending money that Congress hasn’t yet appropriated, O’Duden said.

    “What we have here is the executive branch making people go to work, not paying them, but yet is giving out IOUs,” O’Duden said. “You can’t do that. It’s a violation of the appropriations clause of the Constitution.”

    The union, which represents 150,000 members at 32 federal agencies and departments, also filed a lawsuit on behalf of Customs and Border Protection officers alleging that forcing employees to work without pay violates the Fair Labor Standards Act. Among other things, the law requires that employees be paid a minimum wage and overtime pay.

    Leon also will hear from the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, which filed suit against President Trump and other top officials last week. More than 24,000 Federal Aviation Administration employees are working during the partial shutdown without pay.

    The union seeks a temporary restraining order against the federal government for allegedly violating controllers’ constitutional rights under the Fifth Amendment. Those working without pay must show up because their positions are considered vital for “life and safety.” More than 17,000 others are furloughed.

    “Each day, the FAA’s Air Traffic Controllers are responsible for ensuring the safe routing of tens of thousands of flights, often working lengthy, grueling overtime shifts to do so,” the lawsuit says. The job “requires such rare skills that the FAA struggles to maintain a full complement of certified Air Traffic Controllers.”

    Federal workers already have suffered “immeasurable losses,” the plaintiffs allege, including being unable to pay for medical treatment or travel to funerals for family members; some have jeopardized their security clearances by missing court-ordered alimony payments, and others have failed to make loan repayments, incurring penalties.

    “Measuring the weight of these individual losses as they are multiplied across the thousands of Air Traffic Controllers represented by NATCA becomes unbearable,” NATCA attorneys wrote. “These are losses for which future monetary compensation is insufficient.”

    Attorneys for the Justice Department had asked for more time — until Jan. 22, after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday — to formally reply in writing to the lawsuits. Daniel Schwei and Adam D. Kirschner, senior trial counsel for the federal programs branch of the Justice Department’s civil division, argued to Leon that “the legislative landscape is in flux” and that the court should not step “into a budgeting dispute between the political branches.”

    According to legal scholars, some of the shutdown legal arguments are novel. A lawsuit filed on behalf of two corrections officers from the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a Transportation Department air traffic control worker and a food inspector with the Agriculture Department, alleges that requiring employees to work without pay violates the 13th and Fifth amendments. The 13th Amendment, ratified after the Civil War, abolished slavery and involuntary servitude.

    “They’re required to work without being paid — that is the essence of involuntary servitude,” Michael Kator, an attorney for the plaintiffs, told The Washington Post. “The government has absolutely violated famous constitutional rights.”

    Kator also filed a motion for a temporary restraining order on Friday, asking for immediate relief for federal employees.


    Michael H. LeRoy, a professor at the University of Illinois College of Law, said meeting the definition of involuntary servitude is extremely high. But he said it is wise of lawyers to try different legal approaches, because a government shutdown with no end in sight is uncharted legal territory.

    LeRoy said he does not believe the government will end the shutdown should Leon rule in favor of plaintiffs Tuesday. Instead, the judge probably will grant a government motion to delay the ruling, something that typically happens in novel legal territory, he said. But the longer the shutdown lasts, he said, the more arguments plaintiffs can make that people are being harmed.

    “There isn’t an endgame in sight and that gives … the plaintiffs more credibility in arguing that there are limits as to how long somebody can be ordered to work without pay,” he said.

    Should the government lose, it could be costly.

    A group of federal workers sued after the 2013 government shutdown, which lasted 16 days. They argued that failure to pay federal workers on their regularly scheduled payday violated the Fair Labor Standards Act. A court agreed, ruling that the FLSA requires on-time payment of any minimum or overtime wages earned by employees falling within its coverage. It ordered the government to pay double the amount owed them. Approximately 25,000 employees are still waiting to receive those damages.

    The lawyer who won the case, Heidi Burakiewicz, filed the first lawsuit of this shutdown on Dec. 31, on behalf of the American Federation of Government Employees. It alleges that the Trump administration was illegally forcing more than 400,000 federal employees to work without pay. The two named plaintiffs, Justin Tarovisky and Grayson Sharp, are corrections officers with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The lawsuit seeks back pay.

    “We want to send the message: Stop the shutdown,” Burakiewicz said. More than 5,000 people have emailed her law firm seeking to join the complaint or offering support, and she said they often hint at panic: “ ‘I’ve got 3 kids, I’ve got $200 left, and I can’t afford to keep working because I’m not getting paid.’ It breaks my heart.”

    Heldreth, president of the Local 420 union in West Virginia, was a plaintiff in the 2013 lawsuit. He said more than 60 employees called out sick at the prison on Saturday, exacerbating tensions among the staff and inmates, and there were four violent incidents in a four-day period. The prison is a remote maximum-security facility where three inmates, including the notorious Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger, were killed last year.

    “There’s frustration because it causes division among the staff,” he said. “The ones that are going on are mad because the others called off, but the ones who called off, some of them live hours away and can’t afford the gas or child care. Some have medical issues they can’t afford right now. There’s a lot of desperation.”

    Cheryl Monroe has worked as a chemist for the Food and Drug Administration for more than 30 years, eschewing a private-sector salary for government work she feels is meaningful and protects the American public. She has been out of work — and a paycheck — for more than three weeks and fully supports the National Treasury Employees Union’s lawsuit.

    Monroe is president of the union’s Detroit chapter and has slept only about two hours each night, fielding calls and emails from people who are working without pay and can’t make ends meet. She believes the lawsuit is the most promising recourse.

    “I believe that this administration does not pay attention unless you take them to court,” Monroe said. “There’s no talking to them. It has to be a judge or somebody else in a higher authority to snap them into reality. And so this is not a time for us to lay down and take this.”

    Michael Laris, Ashley Halsey III and Ann E. Marimow contributed to this report.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

  5. #15740

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    Quote Originally Posted by Ti-Amie View Post
    Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer run a tight ship. Tiny isn't used to that.
    Rank-and-file Democrats reject Trump’s invitation to shutdown talks, back Pelosi in opposition to border wall

    By Erica Werner January 15 at 12:58 PM

    A group of rank-and-file House Democrats turned down an invitation to have lunch with President Trump at the White House Tuesday, a snub that underscores the extraordinary divisions that have brought negotiations over the government shutdown to a standstill.

    The invited Democrats, including centrist-leaning freshmen and sophomore members, skipped the meeting amid calls for unity from Democratic leaders and fellow lawmakers who’d voiced concerns the meeting would be little more than a photo op benefting Trump.

    Their decision marked another failure in the White House’s ongoing attempt to splinter Democrats, who instead are holding firm, at least for now, against Trump’s demands for $5.7 billion for his border wall.

    The resulting stalemate led to the partial government shutdown that’s now in its 25th day, the longest such closure in history, as 800,000 federal workers go without pay.

    “Today, the president offered both Democrats and Republicans the chance to meet for lunch at the White House. Unfortunately, no Democrats will attend,” said White House press secretary Sarah Sanders. “The president looks forward to having a working lunch with House Republicans to solve the border crisis and reopen the government. It’s time for the Democrats to come to the table and make a deal.”

    Shortly before the statement from Sanders, House Democratic leaders had made clear they did not want to see individual lawmakers breaking off to meet with the president — although they said they were not explicitly discouraging anyone from attending.

    “The question that I think everyone can reasonably ask is, is he inviting people to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to really try to resolve this problem, or to create a photo op so he can project a false sense of bipartisanship,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), who chairs the House Democratic Caucus. “That is a question that I think every individual member will have to entertain for themselves.”

    Invited lawmakers included Reps. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) and Lou Correa (D-Calif.), both leaders of the centrist Blue Dog Coalition, and Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), a freshman lawmaker who is also a Blue Dog member.

    In a statement, Murphy cited a scheduling conflict, while a spokesman for Correa said the congressman “welcomes the opportunity to talk with the president about border security, as soon as the government is reopened.”

    The House, newly under Democratic control, has passed a series of spending bills to reopen portions of the government unrelated to the border wall, with Democratic leaders saying Trump must support their legislation and reopen the government before they negotiate on his border security request.

    Trump has refused, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said repeatedly that he will not put any legislation on the Senate floor without Trump’s support.

    The White House’s strategy for weeks has been to splinter the Democrats, but they have failed repeatedly as Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) has aligned himself closely with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). The newest iteration of this approach for the White House has been to try and pry loose rank-and-file members from Schumer and Pelosi’s side, but that appeared to have failed as of Tuesday.

    This was a key test for both Democratic leaders but also freshmen Democrats, many of whom had sent mixed signals about abiding by leadership during their campaigns.

    Rep. Katie Hill (D-Calif.), a leader of the new class of freshmen House Democrats, said that sentiment was clear at a freshman class meeting Tuesday morning that no Democrat should join Trump at the White House.

    “I would say that that is definitely the general feeling, is that whoever goes to the White House is kind of setting themselves up to be used as a stunt,” Hill told reporters at the Capitol.

    Amid the confusion surrounding Tuesday’s meeting, the White House sought to organize a new meeting with House Democrats for Wednesday, sending out an invitation to bipartisan members of the Problem Solvers Caucus, according to two Democrats familiar with the invitation. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss confidential communications.

    The outreach from the White House came with concerns mounting in the Capitol over the impacts of the government shutdown, with both sides dug in and no negotiations happening between Trump and congressional leaders. Trump continues to demand billions for his wall — and Democratic leaders continue to refuse.

    Democratic leaders have worked to maintain a united front opposing any increase in funding for border barriers and security beyond a $1.3 billion annual allocation already in place.

    “The Democrats are completely unified and our objective is to reopen government,” said Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), a member of the House Democratic leadership.

    At a closed-door meeting of the House Democratic Caucus Tuesday morning, Pelosi began by reading poll results of the latest Quinnipiac poll, showing voters blame Trump more than Democrats over the shutdown, according to a source in the room who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the private gathering.

    Pelosi went on to say to her caucus: “We want to talk about our values in terms of immigration and how that’s always been bipartisan, including George Herbert Walker Bush, Ronald Reagan and the rest. Not to go into that, but to just say that I understand you all want to know what’s the next step, but just the message of open up government so we can have this discussion is a very important message.”

    The 800,000 affected federal workers include those who’ve been furloughed and those who are working without pay. Congress has signaled its intent to give workers backpay for the shutdown period, but many workers missed their first check last week, leading to broad hardship and union lawsuits.

    The shutdown is also complicating the government’s ability to perform duties millions of Americans depend on.

    The Treasury Department, including the Internal Revenue Service, is unfunded, complicating preparations for the height of tax season. White House officials warned earlier this month that the nation’s food stamp program was at risk of running out of funding in March if the shutdown is not resolved.

    The departments and agencies affected by the shutdown make up about a quarter of the parts of the federal government that are funded by Congress.

    The Pentagon is mostly unaffected, since a spending bill for the military was passed by Congress and signed by Trump in 2018. Congress and the president also passed legislation to fund the Labor Department, the Health and Human Services Department and others, before Trump’s demands for wall money ground negotiations on other spending bills to a halt.

    Programs such as Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid also are unaffected, since their budgets proceed automatically, without the need for annual congressional appropriations. The Russia investigation of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III also is unaffected since it is paid for by a permanent, dedicated funding stream.

    Paul Kane, Mike DeBonis, Damian Paletta and Jenna Portnoy contributed to this report
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

  6. #15741

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    Tax Cut Is Better (for Companies) and Worse (for Everyone Else)
    Corporate America is saving more than expected, but taxpayers are on the hook for it.

    By Stephen Gandel
    January 14, 2019, 4:00 AM EST

    Donald Trump and the Republicans’ tax cut is proving to be vastly more generous for corporate America, and vastly more expensive for taxpayers, than expected. Worse, the Trump Slump is erasing the bump the stock market received from the tax cuts. And evidence is mounting that the promised economic boost isn’t materializing. The administration’s signature political achievement is being eclipsed by disarray over trade, immigration and a government shutdown.

    First, the headline number: $600 billion, at least. That’s how much more than expected I estimate the companies in the S&P 500 are on pace to save. It is also how much more the tax cut is likely to add to the national debt if it runs as planned for 10 years. The total savings for all of corporate America will be well into the 13 figures.

    In late 2017, soon before Congress passed the tax cut — which reduced the U.S. corporate rate to a flat 21 percent from a previous marginal rate that topped out at 35 percent — the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated it would cost $1.4 trillion over 10 years. White House officials criticized that estimate as being too high. In fact, it wasn’t nearly high enough. My current estimate, now that companies have completed 2018, is nearly $2 trillion, and that’s just for the S&P 500. That’s nearly $400 billion more than I calculated in May. And the actual bill could rise even more while the lasting benefits are still pretty questionable.

    Corporate profits for the S&P 500 companies did rise nearly 24 percent in 2018, the biggest jump since late 2010. About half of that income growth came not from an improvement in operations but from lower corporate tax bills, according to my math. That was also more than previously expected. Analysts had thought the tax cut would represent only a third of 2018 profit growth. But it appears the the tax cut was either larger than anticipated, didn’t produce as big an economic boost that many said it would, or more likely a combination of the two.

    As I did in May, I calculated how much the tax plan lowered corporate America’s tax bill and boosted its profits by looking at the corporate tax provision that companies in the S&P 500 reported for the first nine months of 2018 and the expected earnings for the fourth quarter, which companies will report soon. It is worth noting, once again, that’s not actually how much they paid in taxes. Investors will never truly know that because companies don’t have to make their tax returns public, even to their owners. Still, experts consider the accounting provision for tax payments, which includes state and foreign income taxes, to be a pretty good indicator of whether taxes are going up or down. It’s a pretty good bet that much of the drop in 2018 came from the lower federal corporate income rate.

    Using the tax provisions, I calculated the companies’ 2018 tax rates and then compared them with what they had paid on average going back to 2014. I then applied the difference between the 2018 rate and what those companies had paid in the past to expected 2018 pretax profits to calculate the tax savings. I had to exclude REITs and similar companies that pass on most of their profits to shareholders to avoid paying taxes themselves, as well as a few companies such as Mattel Inc., which has lost money for the past two years but still paid taxes. I did include the relatively few companies that reported higher tax costs. What I found was that the tax law cut the average effective corporate tax rate for companies in the S&P 500 to 19 percent from 28 percent a year ago. That includes all taxes, such as local and international levies, not just federal income taxes. The result: S&P 500 companies saved $144 billion, or $395 million a day, in taxes in 2018.

    The more difficult question is whether the tax cut has provided an economic boost. In October 2016, analysts estimated that the companies in the S&P 500 would earn a collective $146.80 a share in 2018. Those earnings are now looking as if they will come in a good deal higher at $159.20 a share. That includes the tax cut, which lifted earnings by nearly $15.70 a share. Exclude the tax impact, and S&P 500 companies actually earned less last year, $143.50 a share, than they were expected to before Trump was elected president. That suggests that the tax cut hasn’t provided much income growth outside the actual tax savings. It is possible earnings missed expectations because companies paid raises or spent some of their tax savings in other ways. But even in the unlikely event that full $3.30 a share ended up in employees’ paychecks — an average raise of $10,000 per worker — that would still be a 20-80 split of the tax gains between workers and corporate America.

    As for whether Trump has on balance been good for the market, the S&P 500 companies are worth $3.8 trillion more today than the day before Trump was elected. That’s good. But in that same time, the earnings of the S&P 500 companies have risen $404 billion. Apply the current forward price-to-earnings multiple of the S&P 500 of 15.2, and, based on that, you would expect the S&P 500 to be up $6.1 trillion, with $2.2 trillion — that’s the 2018 tax savings of $144 billion times that 15.2 P/E — coming from the tax cut. But it’s not. It’s $2.3 trillion short of that.

    That gap can be attributed to myriad reasons, including rising interest rates, a weakening global economy, worsening trade tensions and growing uncertainty about Brexit. But at least some portion can be called the Trump Discount — the amount Trump’s actions, from his trade war with China to his more recent eagerness to shut down the government have hurt the value of the market and the investment accounts of many Americans. The tax cuts provided a short-term boost, but given how large the Trump Discount has swelled, it is harder and harder for investors to notice.

    This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

  7. #15742

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    Business as usual for 45 with one way of saving profit is to serve fast food to the winning collegiate football team in 2018
    2018 WTA French Open Champion, Australian Open runner-up and winner in WTA player of month voting for January

  8. #15743

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    Nicole Carr
    ‏Verified account

    TSA’s statement today acknowledging what federal employees have been warning about in our reporting for weeks- employees are calling out because of “financial limitations.”

    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

  9. #15744

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    Mike DeBonis
    ‏Verified account

    The House just VOICE VOTED a continuing resolution that would reopen govt after Dems caught GOP napping. Several Rs trying to undo it but Ds not having it.

    Let's be clear. This has no practical effect, and GOP is crying foul. But leadership is supposed to be on top of this stuff. Hoyer saying he will review tape and see if anyone requested yeas and nays.

    Per @pkcapitol R's say they did ask for a recorded vote but say chair ignored it.

    Speaker Pelosi was asked to comment:

    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

  10. #15745

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    The "God Save Texas" edition of the Slate Money Podcast, It touches on education and the role it plays in providing a workforce able to work in IT.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

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