Law

Tax Break Insanity Favors Hummers Over Hybrids

An article int the Pasadena Star News details how congress allows purchasers of hybrid vehicles a tax credit of up to $1,860. However, that credit is tied to sales quotas and that is leaving Toyota buyers out in the cold as they (Toyota) have now started to exceed their quota.

Meanwhile, purchasers of Hummers and other SUVs get huge tax deductions, as detailed by Taxpayers for Common Sense. The Jobs and Growth Act of 2003 allows for full deductibility of nearly all SUVs.

What can congress be thinking? It is as if throwing CO2 into the air was a national priority instead of a national embarrassment.

"Living Wage" Law Vetoed In Chicago

An effort to pass a law requiring large retailers with more than $1 Billion in sales or stores larger than 90,000 square feet was vetoed by Mayor Richard Daley in Chicago. A projected 31-18 vote to override would be three votes short of passing.

The measure would have required those employers to pay $10 per hour plus $3 an hour in benefits by 2010. That is in comparison to the Illinois minimum wage of $6.50 an hour and the embarrassing federal minimum wage of $5.15.

CIA Officers Plan For Legal Defense

Counterterrorism officers at the CIA are lining up for government backed insurance to cover their legal expenses should they face civil or criminal charges for the way they have conducted their jobs.

It would seem their greatest concern comes from a change in leadership in either Congress in 2006 or the White House in 2008.

This insurance is coupled with efforts by the Bush Administration to protect civilians in the government from liability due to the mistreatment of prisoners.

EPA Budget Cuts Threaten Enforcement / Lawsuits

The EPA's budget for library services, that is libraries that the public can access to do research about environmental issues, is being cut by $2 million for the 2007 fiscal year. EPA deputy press secretary, Jessica Emond, states that that leaves $4.5 million in the budget. So, in an age of congress calling any budgetary growth less that the rate of inflation a "cut", this actual drop of 30.7% is a significant story. Especially when you consider that the overall EPA budget is nearly $7 billion.

Public Employees for Environmental Responsiblity have an explaination as to what this all means:

Prosecution of polluters by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency “will be compromised” due to the loss of “timely, correct and accessible” information from the agency’s closure of its network of technical libraries. EPA enforcement staff currently rely upon the libraries to obtain technical information to support pollution prosecutions and to track the business histories of regulated industries.

Big Tobacco Gets Off Easy

In 1999, the Clinton Administration began suing Big Tobacco on the grounds that they were deceiving the public in their packaging and what remained of their marketing efforts. In a recent ruling at the District Court level, they got a slap on the wrist as a result.

U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler did order the companies to publish in newspapers and on their Web sites "corrective statements" on the adverse health effects and addictiveness of smoking and nicotine.

She also ordered tobacco companies to stop labeling cigarettes as "low tar," "light," "ultra light" or "mild," since such cigarettes have been found to be no safer than others because of how people smoke them.

The judge stopped short, however, of granting the $10 Billion (down from $130 Billion) the Justice Department had sought as funding for a national smoking cessation campaign.

The press, typically, is billing this as a loss for the Tobacco companies. How this cannot be viewed as a win for them escapes me. These companies sell a product that kills people and cost taxpayers tens, if not hundreds, of billions of dollars every year; and, their penalty is to change their packaging to be less deceptive?

Administration Seeks War Crimes Protection

Accoring to this L.A. Times article, the Bush administration is seeking to retroactively exempt policymakers from prosecution under the War Crimes Act for any role they may have had in directing the torture or abuse of prisoners.

This does make one wonder if the whole Abu Ghraib drama may have an act or two left in it. Asking for such an amendment can only be politically damaging to the administration, so why seek an amendment to the Act to protect yourself unless the political damage is less costly than the damage criminal charges will bring.

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