Rich getting richer: Richest 400 Americans' net worth jumps 13% 19 Sep 2012 The net worth of the richest Americans grew by 13 per cent in the past year to *1.7-trillion (U.S.), Forbes magazine said on Wednesday, and a familiar cast of characters once again populated the top of the magazine's annual list of the U.S. uber-elite, including Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Larry Ellison and the Koch brothers. The average net worth of the 400 wealthiest Americans rose to a record *4.2-billion, the magazine said. Collectively, this group's net worth is the equivalent of one-eighth of the entire U.S. economy, which stood at *13.56-trillion in real terms according to the latest government data.
Mitt Romney to release 2011 tax return Friday at 3 p.m. [LOL!] 21 Sep 2012 Mitt Romney paid *1,935,708 in taxes on *13,696,951 in income in 2011 for an effective tax rate of 14.1 percent, according to a return that will be released Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. Romney also plans to post a letter from his tax preparer, PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP, giving a summary of tax rates from the Romneys' tax returns for the 20-year period of 1990-2009. The details from the return were announced in a blog post on the Republican candidate's campaign Web site, written by Brad Malt, the trustee of Mitt and Ann Romney's blind trust.
U.S. probes whether Benghazi attackers had inside help 20 Sep 2012 U.S. authorities are investigating possible collusion between militants who launched a deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and locally hired Libyan personnel guarding the facility, three U.S. officials said... The State Department has said Blue Mountain Group, a private security company based in Carmarthen, Wales, had a contract related to vetting and hiring local residents to perform security tasks at the Benghazi consulate. A government contracting database shows the department signed a contract of this nature last May for $387,000, with options raising the value to $783,000.
Three Mile Island nuclear plant shuts down unexpectedly, releasing radioactive steam --The Three Mile Island nuclear power plant shut down unexpectedly this afternoon, releasing steam containing radiation. 20 Sep 2012 A reactor at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant shut down unexpectedly this afternoon because of a cooling problem, a month after it went offline because of a leak in the cooling system, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission says. The NRC says a cooling pump for Unit One stopped working at 2:16 p.m. ET, triggering the automatic shutdown, as the system is designed to do. Residents near the plant, outside Harrisburg, Pa., the state capital, reported hearing a loud bang, WHTM-TV says.
Exelon investigating shutdown at TMI 20 Sep 2012 A Three Mile Island spokesman says steam was released this afternoon when the nuclear power plant unexpectedly shut down, creating a loud noise heard by nearby residents. Exelon spokesman Ralph DeSantis said the reason for the shutdown, which occurred at 2:20 p.m., was not immediately known. He told abc27 News that "something unexpected happened" and the shutdown was automatic. "We have a command center set up and we are going through our procedures to determine exactly what happened," DeSantis said.
State Department was discussing putting Marines in Libya 'sometime in the next five years' 20 Sep 2012 Prior to the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, the State Department and the Marines Corps had been discussing deploying Marines to guard the U.S. Embassy in the Libyan capital Tripoli "sometime in the next five years," according to the Marine Corps. The issue of security at U.S. diplomatic outposts in Libya has been front and center as Congress and others begin to investigate whether or not those facilities were sufficiently protected before the attacks that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. [See? UK mercenary firm Blue Mountain likely Ok'd or actually assassinated Stevens. Now, Americans will accept the US Octopus extending its tentacles to another region in the world. See: Feds Hired British Security Firm to Protect Benghazi Consulate 17 Sep 2012. --LRP]
Feds Hired British Security Firm to Protect Benghazi Consulate 17 Sep 2012 The State Department signed a six-figure deal with a British firm [Blue Mountain] to protect the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya just four months before a sustained attack on the compound killed four U.S. nationals inside. Contrary to Friday's claim by State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland that "at no time did we contract with a private security firm in Libya," the department inked a contract for "security guards and patrol services" on May 3 for *387,413.68. An extension option brought the tab for protecting the consulate to *783,000. The contract lists only "foreign security awardees" as its recipient.
Libya Envoy's Killing Was a Terrorist Attack, the White House Says 21 Sep 2012 The White House, after more than a week in which it has come under fire from Republicans, is now calling last week's assault on the American diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, a "terrorist attack." "It is self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack," the White House press secretary, Jay Carney, told reporters traveling on Air Force One on Thursday. White House officials, until now, have avoided calling the attack a terrorist attack, but in Congressional testimony Wednesday, Matthew G. Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, described it that way.
Appeals court judges seem skeptical of CIA secrecy on drone program 20 Sep 2012 Federal appeals court judges Thursday questioned the CIA's efforts to block information on the use of unmanned drones to kill suspected terrorists. A lower court federal judge sided with the CIA last year and dismissed a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union seeking records about the use of drones. In response to an ACLU Freedom of Information Act request, the CIA had refused to confirm or deny the existence of responsive records. At a hearing on its appeal of the lower court ruling, the ACLU told the three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia that several high-ranking officials, from then-CIA Director Leon Panetta to President Barack Obama, have publicly acknowledged the use of drones.
Italy upholds rendition convictions for 23 Americans, including 21 CIA agents 19 Sep 2012 Italy's highest criminal court on Wednesday upheld the convictions of 23 Americans found guilty of kidnapping a Muslim cleric from a Milanese street and transferring him to a country where torture was permitted. The court of cassation's ruling is the final appeal in the world's first judicial review of the CIA practice of abducting terror suspects and transferring them to third countries, a practice also known as extraordinary rendition. The 23 Americans were all convicted in absentia following a trial that lasted over three years.
IDF chief orders surprise Golan Heights drill --Live-fire exercise meant to test readiness, fitness of a number of units specializing in offensive firepower 19 Sep 2012 IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz ordered a number of units to conduct an unplanned exercise early Wednesday to test the army's readiness and alert level. Forces from the Central and Northern Commands, Air Force and other units are taking part in the drill. A large number of regular army and reserve soldiers received surprising telephone calls from their units overnight Wednesday, ordering them to attend the exercise. The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said Gantz wants to test the readiness and fitness of a number of units specializing in offensive firepower, particularly the Artillery Corps.
Syria accuses West of nuclear double standards over Israel 19 Sep 2012 Syria, itself suspected of illicit nuclear activity, accused the West at a major UN meeting on Wednesday of double standards in implicitly condoning an Israeli atomic arsenal and warned of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. The United States said last week Damascus was using the "brutal repression" of its people waging an uprising as an excuse not to address international concerns about its past nuclear work. Syrian Ambassador Bassam Al-Sabbagh insisted that his country was ready to cooperate with the UN agency and he sought to turn the tables on Damascus's accusers by hitting out at Israel. Israel is believed to have the Middle East's only nuclear arsenal, although it refuses to disclose any capability. Clearly referring to Washington and its allies, Al-Sabbagh told the IAEA's 155-nation annual assembly in Vienna: "The fact that some influential states... condone Israel's possession of nuclear capabilities and its failure to subject them to any international control exposes clearly the extent of double standards used by those states."
U.S. will go to war with Iran in 2013, says ex-U.S. ambassador to Israel --Martin Indyk tells CBS there is not much time left until Iran has a nuclear weapon, but says Netanyahu's demands for 'red lines' on Iran are 'unreasonable.' 17 Sep 2012 Former U.S. ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk forecasts that the United States will go to war with Iran next year over its nuclear program. Speaking during a panel discussion Sunday on the CBS program Face the Nation, Indyk said: "I'm afraid that 2013 is going to be a year in which we're going to have a military confrontation with Iran."
Turkish security forces foil plot to sell cesium-137 18 Sep 2012 Turkish security forces have seized two tubes of radioactive cesium-137 being transported in a vehicle in the northeastern province of Giresun on the Black Sea, Press TV reports. Acting on a tip-off that highly toxic radioactive material was on board a car heading from the northeastern city of Trabzon to Giresun city, which is situated 622 kilometers (387 miles) east of Ankara, Turkish soldiers stopped the car near the town of Gulburnu on Tuesday. Upon searching the car, they found two glass tubes of cesium-137 hidden inside the vehicle.
Recent US-led airstrike killed Afghan civilians: Fact-finding mission 19 Sep 2012 An Afghan government-appointed fact-finding mission says that a recent US-led airstrike in the eastern province of Laghman targeted civilians, Press TV reports. The fact-finding mission set up by President Hamid Karzai announced on Wednesday that seven women and a child were killed in the airstrike that was conducted in Alingar district on September 16. Nineteen other women and children were also injured in the attack, the mission said.
Crocker: Taliban Infiltration Worse Than Estimated 18 Sep 2012 Taliban infiltration of the Afghan army and police is much worse than the U.S. military and NATO have admitted and was the main factor in the surprise move to limit contacts with Afghan security forces to curb insider attacks, former ranking U.S. officials in Afghanistan said. "I would put the percentage rather higher" than the 25% figure for enemy infiltrators and sympathizers that U.S. commanders have estimated, said Ryan Crocker, who stepped down as U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan in July.
U.S inspector faults federal agents in gun probe, clears Holder --Department's inspector general finds no cover-up 19 Sep 2012 The U.S. Justice Department's internal watchdog faulted 14 federal agents and prosecutors on Wednesday for the botched anti-gun-trafficking effort known as "Operation Fast and Furious" but cleared Attorney General Eric Holder of any wrongdoing. The report by the department's inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, prompted two senior officials to leave the government. Congressional Republicans investigating the mismanaged operation had accused Holder of covering it up.
Prosecutors drop fight for notebook from accused Colorado shooter 20 Sep 2012 Prosecutors dropped their legal fight on Thursday for access to a notebook that accused Colorado theater gunman James Holmes sent to a university psychiatrist before the shooting, saying legal wrangling over it would delay the case for months. Holmes, a former neuroscience graduate student, is accused of opening fire on July 20 at a midnight screening of the Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, a Denver suburb. Twelve people were killed and 58 wounded in the attack. [See: Aurora, Colorado Shooting 'Oddities' By Lori Price.]
Prosecutors decide against charges for police officers who pepper-sprayed UC Davis protesters 19 Sep 2012 The University of California, Davis police officers who doused students and alumni with pepper spray during a campus protest last November won't face criminal charges, prosecutors said Wednesday. The chemical crackdown prompted widespread condemnation, campus protests and calls for the resignation of Chancellor Linda Katehi after videos shot by witnesses were widely played online. The Yolo County District Attorney's office said in a statement that there was insufficient evidence [?] to prove the use of force was illegal.
State can't fix lazy people says Pa. lawmaker on voter ID 20 Sep 2012 Pennsylvania House Representative Daryl Metcalfe's "lazy" comments on a Pittsburgh radio station may have stirred the voter ID pot once again. On KDKA Radio in Pittsburgh Wednesday morning, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Sociopath-Butler County) discussed a new Pa. law that requires all voters to show a valid photo ID at the polls. When asked about the 750,000 possible disenfranchised voters without proper photo identification, Metcalfe responded: "As Mitt Romney said, 40-some percent of the people that are living off the public dole, living off their neighbors' hard work, and we have a lot of people out there that are too lazy to get up and get out there and get the id they need. If individuals are too lazy, the state can't fix that."
Tea party group sends voter ID warning to justices 20 Sep 2012 A Philadelphia-area tea party group says it will work to defeat two state Supreme Court justices next year if the state's new voter identification law isn't in effect for the Nov. 6 election. The Independence Hall Tea Party on Thursday also criticized the court's decision to send a legal challenge to the law back for a lower court review. It called the decision "a cowardly move" to "punt the ball."
Church Official Pushes Mormon Voter Registration in Key Swing State 20 Sep 2012 In a provocative move within a religious organization that has sought to display strict political neutrality, an official of the Mormon church has disseminated a presentation across the key swing state of Nevada that urges members to vote and speak "with one voice" in the coming Presidential election that pits Mormon Mitt Romney against President Barack Obama. "Any Mormon would understand exactly what's being said there," said Randall Balmer, a Dartmouth religion professor who has studied the church's handling of Romney's presidential bids. "This is very thinly coded language."
50,000 USD in checks sent from Obama campaign stolen 20 Sep 2012 Three checks sent out from President Barack Obama's campaign headquarters in Chicago have been stolen -- a total of *50,000, according to a TV news report -- and police are investigating. "Three checks we sent to vendors made it into the wrong hands, and after learning of this, we notified the police," said Obama's Midwest press secretary, Ben Finkenbinder, in a written statement. "We're pleased that they're dealing with the issue swiftly, and don't expect this to have any impact upon the campaign."
Romney's Words 19 Sep 2012 The video of a Mitt Romney campaign fundraiser posted Monday on the Mother Jones web site has provided a revealing glimpse of what the financial magnates think and what they say to one another in the privacy of their board rooms and mansions...Romney's words, secretly filmed and leaked to the liberal magazine, were addressed to attendees at a *50,000-a-plate dinner held last May at the Boca Raton, Florida home of a fellow private equity multi-millionaire, Marc Leder. They express the arrogant and misanthropic outlook of the financial parasites who dominate economic life and control both big business parties.
American Airlines sends layoff notices to 11,000 employees 20 Sep 2012 American Airlines, the third-largest US airline, announced Tuesday that it plans to send layoff notices to over 11,000 mechanics, ground workers and other support personnel as part of its bankruptcy court-mediated restructuring. Thousands of notices have already been sent to employees.
Delegates meeting votes to end Chicago teachers strike 19 Sep 2012 The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) succeeded in obtaining a vote by 800 delegates who met Tuesday evening to end a nine-day strike against the third largest school system in the US. The vote means teachers will return to work on Wednesday, though it will be some three weeks before they are able to vote on the agreement reached between the CTU and Chicago Public Schools (CPS)...There is broad opposition among teachers to the contract deal, which incorporates all of the basic demands of Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CPS. In collaboration with the CTU, the city administration and the media have waged a campaign of lies and intimidation aimed at pressuring the teachers to end the strike.