I’ll be on WPR’s Week In Review tomorrow morning from 8 to 9. I’ll be discussing the news of the week with Darryl Mayfield.
Tune in!Posted by Owen at 1910 hrs
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Individuals employed around the world by a sophisticated cyber crime ring stole $45 million from thousands of bank automated teller machines within a matter of hours, using hacked debit-card data, U.S. prosecutors said on Thursday.
Members of the global criminal organization hacked into two credit card processors and used stolen data to make more than 40,500 withdrawals in 27 countries, during two separate coordinated incidents in December 2012 and February 2013, the Justice Department said.
The government charged eight individuals in New York with participating in the larger scheme by withdrawing $2.8 million in thousands of ATM transactions, in what U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said was the second-biggest bank robbery in the history of New York City.
Excellent. Now we’ll see which Republicans truly believe in shrinking the size and scope of government and those who just want to spend more.
The Legislative Fiscal Bureau today estimated the state will take in $575 million more in general purpose revenue through mid-2015 than previously estimated.
The LFB wrote in a memo this morning that includes an additional $215 million in the current fiscal year followed by a boost of $180 million in 2013-14 and another $180 million in 2014-15.
Shortly after the new estimates were released, Assembly GOP members of the Joint Finance Committee this morning called for increasing state aid to K-12 education by $255 million more than the guv proposed and pumping more money into tax relief.
This is just nuts. I don’t agree with residency rules, but either do it or not. The middle ground is just littered with idiocy.
Wisconsin lawmakers on Wednesday, May 8, were discussing a compromise to Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal that would eliminate any requirements on municipal workers to live in the cities where they work.
Under the deal, workers likely would be allowed to live within a few miles of the city where they work but would have to pay a fee for living outside the city limits, said Rep. John Nygren, the Republican co-chair of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee. Madison and many other municipalities already take that approach.
Nygren said terms of the deal still were being discussed with senators on the budget committee.
What an amazing story.
Three young women who vanished a decade ago near their homes in Cleveland were found only miles from where they disappeared, and three brothers have been arrested in relation to the incident, according to police.
Gina DeJesus, Amanda Berry and Michele Knight were found alive, and Cleveland Police Commander Keith Sulver said all three women were getting medical treatment but seemed to be in good condition.
“All of them are doing well. They all look good,” he said. “They’re all talking. They’re aware of everything that’s going on, and we’re just very happy that they’re safe and in good condition.”
My column for the Daily News is online. It’s called, “Food fight.” Here it is:
The politics of food have become very conflicted as of late. It is difficult to tell what principle, if any, liberals are upholding.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently attempted to ban the sale of large soft drinks within the city. It was an attempt to limit the sugar intake of New Yorkers in an effort to keep them from being fat. The measure was widely ridiculed by every conservative from Sarah Palin to Pat Sajak as part of Bloomberg’s maniacal obsession to nanny every part of people’s lives. The same measure, however, was lauded by liberals as a critical health measure to combat obesity.
The politics of first lady Michelle Obama’s school lunch initiatives followed much the same pattern of Bloomberg’s. Her advocacy for people to eat a more healthy diet and live a healthy lifestyle was widely lauded by virtually everyone on the left and the right.
But when that advocacy turned into regulations for school lunches, things changed. Those regulations essentially required fewer calories, more vegetables and less fatty foods. The kids revolted with widespread stories of a lot of the food going in the trash while kids went hungry instead. Here again, conservatives widely derided the regulations as an unrealistic and an uncomfortable restriction of choice while liberals have lauded them as a marvelous weapon in the fight against childhood obesity.
Here in Wisconsin, things are a little different. Last week an Assembly committee approved a bill that would place some restrictions on what kinds of food people could purchase using food stamps. It is a bill put forth by Rep. Dean Kaufert, R-Neenah, and would require that two-thirds of a person’s monthly food stamps be used on healthy foods including those approved by the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children.
Like Bloomberg and Obama, Kaufert’s effort is centered on encouraging people to eat healthy food as part of a healthy lifestyle. Yet this time the liberals in Wisconsin are up in arms over the proposal and conservative reaction has been somewhat tepid either way. Liberals are claiming that Kaufert’s bill is everything from an attack on poor folks to a hit against Wisconsin’s cheese industry.
What are we to make of these odd political contradictions? In all three cases we have a government body trying to restrict the choice of what people eat. In all three cases, the motivation behind those efforts is trying to help people by promoting the eating of healthy food in order to improve people’s health and fight obesity. In the case of Bloomberg and Obama’s efforts, liberals are full of praise while they deride Kaufert’s effort.
The only difference between Kaufert’s action and those of Bloomberg and Obama is that Kaufert is only focusing on food for which the taxpayers pick up the bill. In the other two examples, the government is seeking to limit and control the food choices of people spending their own money. This is a curious standard.
According to the logic the liberals are portraying, it is the role and duty of government to restrict citizens from spending their own money on food items they choose. But if the taxpayers are paying for the food, no restrictions should be placed on those choices at all.
One wonders if we could apply the same logic for schools. How about if people are paying for the kids’ education themselves, then they would be restricted to nongovernment schools, but if the taxpayers are paying for education then parents must be allowed to choose any school they want? That uses the same logic that the liberals want to apply to food stamps.
As a culture, we have generally espoused the ethos that the person who pays the bills gets to make the choices. It is precisely this ethos that causes conservatives to shun government stepping in and paying for things like health care. But when it comes to the politics of food, liberals appear to be standing that ethos on its head.
Posted by Owen at 2028 hrs
About 500,000 Jews served in the Soviet Red Army during World War II. Most of those still alive today — about 7,000 — are said to live in Israel.
Every year on Victory Day, which falls on Thursday this year, they parade in uniform throughout Israel to celebrate Nazi Germany’s surrender to the Soviet Union.
Afterward, they return home to their modest apartments, where some tick off the days in solitude — and poverty.
“Permission structure” wasn’t the oddest thing to come out of President Barack Obama’s mouth this week. That honor goes to Obama’s assurance that NBA veteran Jason Collins, having come out as gay, “can bang with Shaq,” which had West Wing aides wincing. Still, the jokes flew. Is that “structure” like having a safe word? Isn’t it better to have a forgiveness structure?
“Permission structure,” an arcane term drawn from the “game theory” branch of political science, which studies how people make decisions, shed quite a bit of light on how this president thinks about the limits of his power at the dawn of his second term.
You can think of it as a fancy way to say “politics.” And you’ll be seeing it in upcoming debates on everything from immigration reform to battles over the government’s finances. It’s likely to be a feature of the next round of the gun debate, since Obama served notice in Mexico on Thursday that he would try again on that front. (You know who else used “permission structure”? Some Mitt Romney supporters. See below).
Here’s another expensive perk that only exists in the public sector.
Throughout his career of more than 25 years with the Green Bay Police Department, Jim Arts seldom called in sick.
When he retired as police chief last summer, Arts recouped unused sick days equal to more than a full year’s salary.
The former police chief’s payout of $158,738 was the largest among 44 city retirees who last year received a combined more than $1.8 million — three times what city officials had budgeted.
The surge in sick-day payouts depleted a surplus in the city’s $100 million budget, and it has prompted some officials to question whether a new approach is needed on employee sick days.
One has to wonder if the evidence that the U.S. is a paper tiger had anything to do with Israel taking the initiative.
The BBC’s Yolande Knell in Jerusalem says the latest developments are a significant escalation in Israel’s involvement in the conflict.
The Syrian foreign ministry statement said three military sites had been hit - a research centre at Jamraya, a paragliding airport in the al-Dimas area of Damascus and a site in Maysaloun.
Doesn’t it make you feel comfortable knowing that the government can “recalculate” and find $5 billion. That’s a lot of money anywhere except the U.S. federal government.
Posted by Owen at 2018 hrs
WASHINGTON (AP)—The White House budget office is recalculating how to apply automatic spending cuts for a handful of agencies, freeing up almost $4 billion for the Pentagon and another $1 billion or so for other agencies like the Homeland Security Department and NASA.
Capitol Hill aides familiar with the White House changes say the administration has identified almost $5 billion in cuts that can be restored under its reading of the arcane budget rules governing the across-the-board cuts, known as sequestration.
The calculations differ from earlier ones because a partial-year funding bill was replaced in March with a more detailed measure. After administration number crunchers redid their math they were able to restore about $5 billion of the scheduled $85 billion in automatic sequestration cuts under a complicated, previously unused mechanism that dates to a 1985 budget law.
Looks like another Arab Spring where we get to choose to back either a brutal dictator or an Islamist cabal. Wonderful.
Posted by Owen at 0550 hrs
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Israel has carried out an air strike targeting a shipment of missiles in Syria bound for Hezbollah guerrillas in neighboring Lebanon, an Israeli official said on Saturday.
Israel had long made clear it is prepared to resort to force to prevent advanced Syrian weapons, including President Bashar al-Assad’s reputed chemical arsenal, reaching his Hezbollah allies or Islamist rebels taking part in a more than two-year-old uprising against his government.
Israelis are worried that if Assad is toppled, Islamist fighters could turn his guns on them next door, after four decades of relative calm along the Golan Heights border zone.
But Israeli security concerns have risen since Islamist fighters linked to al-Qaeda assumed a prominent role in the insurrection against Assad.
They have also worried that Hezbollah could eventually obtain his chemical arsenal and other advanced weaponry. But there is no risk of that happening for the time being, a senior Israeli official said on Saturday.
Um… why weren’t we doing this before?
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Homeland Security Department ordered border agents to verify that every international student who arrives in the U.S. has a valid student visa, according to an internal memorandum obtained Friday by The Associated Press. The new procedure is the government’s first security change directly related to the Boston bombings.
The Parkham Women’s Institute, a venerable institution traditionally devoted to home-spun handicrafts and good works, decided to get into the spirit of Captain Colin Darch’s talk by dressing in pirate garb. Neckerchiefs, eye patches and pirate hats were widely sported, with a toy parrot thrown in for good measure.
Unfortunately, Captain Darch’s topic focused on his 2008 ordeal at the hands of Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean, when he was held hostage for more than six weeks.
A 76-year-old Sheboygan woman convicted of killing her infant daughter more than a half century ago was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in prison, with the judge in the case imposing a much harsher sentence than what prosecutors had sought.
Under the sentence issued by Sheboygan County Circuit Court Judge Angela Sutkiewicz, Ruby Klokow will be eligible for release from prison after 2-1/2 years.
The prison sentence was well over the 45 days in jail and 10 years probation that was requested by both the defense and prosecution as part of a plea deal reached earlier this year.
This woman brutally killed her daughter. I don’t care if it took over 50 years to catch her. She did it and deserves to be thrown in prison for it. The judge put it well:
“Anything but incarceration would diminish the seriousness of the offense,” Sutkiewicz said before reading her sentence to a nearly full courtroom.