May 12, 2011- Big donors like David H. Koch and George Soros could owe taxes on their millions of dollars in contributions to nonprofit advocacy groups that are playing an increasing role in American politics.
Invoking a provision that had rarely, if ever, been enforced, the Internal Revenue Service said it had sent letters to five donors, who were not identified, informing them that their contributions may be subject to gift taxes depending on whether the donations exceeded limits under the tax laws.
These advocacy groups have been drawing more scrutiny, from President Obama as well as others, as they have proliferated and funneled vast sums of money in support of campaigns and causes, without having to publicly disclose their donors.
CREW Writes Letter to President Obama Supporting Executive Order Requiring Transparancy of Campaign Finance
If you've been following the news, you've probably heard about the President's executive order drafted April 13, which would require full disclosure of campaign donations made by business entities seeking government contracts. Needless to say the Chamber of Commerce and Karl Rove are very upset over this new development. On May 4th, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) -with the support of over 30 other progressive organizations- sent a letter to President Obama endorsing the executive order.
AlterNet: US Chamber Freaks Out Over Modest Obama Proposal That Would Require Gov't Contractors To Disclose Campaign Spending
It's a good rule of thumb: If the Chamber is whipped up about something, there's probably good reason for the public to back whatever has sent them into fits.
May 9, 2011- It's a good rule of thumb: If the U.S. Chamber of Commerce -- the trade association for large corporations -- is whipped up about something, there's probably good reason for the public to strongly back whatever has sent the Chamber into fits.
Well, the Chamber is apoplectic over a modest Obama administration proposed executive order that would require government contractors to reveal all of their campaign-related spending.
Press Release: StopTheChamber.com Urges FBI to Launch Criminal Investigation Into Chamber of Commerce Watergate-like Campaign
National Business Group Uses Illegal Tactics to Intimidate and Undermine Opposition
WASHINGTON, May 10, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Two advocacy coalitions urged the FBI this week to launch a full-scale criminal investigation into unlawful activities committed by the Chamber of Commerce (COC) and those of its law firm, Hunton & Williams (H&W), and three military intelligence contractors hired by the law firm – HBGary Federal, Berico Technologies and Palantir Technologies, collectively called Team Themis. StopTheChamber.com (STC) and VelvetRevolution.us (VR) sent letters to the FBI detailing how these organizations jointly conspired and conducted a proposed $12 million Watergate-like campaign against STC, VR and their staff, as well as other organizations and reporters.
A year after 29 coal miners were killed in West Virginia, a safety bill has failed and a backlog of safety cases has grown.
May 8, 2011- Reporting from Montcoal, W.Va.— As he delivered a eulogy last year for 29 men killed in the worst coal mine disaster in four decades, President Obama bowed his head and repeated a plea he had heard from mining families: "Don't let this happen again."
Looking at the audience that filled the Beckley, W.Va., convention center hall, he asked: "How can we fail them?"
A year later, many family members say that Washington has failed them, and some of the president's closest congressional allies agree.
While there have been improvements, many of the glaring problems revealed by the explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine remain unaddressed.
Right Wing Watch: Religious Right Groups And Chamber of Commerce Fail To Block District Court Nominee
May 4, 2011- Religious Right and pro-corporate groups failed today to block President Obama’s nominee for U.S. District Court in Rhode Island, John McConnell, from receiving an up-or-down vote in the Senate. The Senate invoked cloture on McConnell’s nomination in a 63-33 vote, defeating the filibuster against McConnell. Filibusters against district court judges are extremely rare—only a handful of District Court nominees have ever faced cloture votes, and none have ever been blocked—and many Republicans previously vowed they would never filibuster a judicial nominee.
Today’s vote came after a long wait for McConnell: according to The Providence Journal, the delay caused by the concerted right-wing effort to block McConnell forced Rhode Island’s chief federal judge to “take the unusual step of reassigning more than two dozen civil cases to judges in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.”
April 29, 2011- Exxon Mobil Corp. said Thursday its quarterly profit jumped 38 percent as oil prices rose in the first three months of the year.
That marks the first year-over-year increase in profits for Exxon since it posted an all-time record of $14.83 billion in the third quarter of 2008.
Still, earnings remain significantly below that level. During the first three months of this year, the Irving, Texas, oil giant had a profit of $6.3 billion, or $1.33 per share. That compares with $4.55 billion, or 92 cents per share, in the same period last year. Two years ago, Exxon earned $10.89 billion in the first quarter.
Revenue jumped 41 percent to $90.25 billion. Analysts had expected earnings of $1.41 a share on revenue of $96.41 billion.
April 22, 2011- Gulf Coast resident Cherri Foytlin still can't get used to being called an activist. "A year ago, I was just a mom trying to protect my kids," she says. "But I've embraced my new responsibilities respectfully and proudly."
Foytlin marked the one-year anniversary of the BP oil disaster by walking 1,243 miles from New Orleans to Washington, DC to remind the country that even though the Obama administration and BP claim that life in the Gulf is back to normal, facts on the ground prove otherwise. She says people are experiencing everything from kidney damage to skin lesions, wildlife is dying, the economic devastation continues and the ecosystem has forever been damaged.
Foytlinarrived in DCon April 14 after 34 days of rainstorms, heat exhaustion, tornadoes and countless blisters. She says it was worth it.
April 19, 2011- 1. BP is gunning to get back to drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. When the Department of Interior issued its first deepwater permit since the Deepwater Horizon disaster, it was for a well that BP owns half of. Earlier this month, company officials also announced that they are seeking an agreement with the US government to resume drilling at their 10 deepwater wells in the Gulf this July, arguing that they will follow tougher safety rules, the New York Times reported earlier this month. This comes even as the government is said to be considering manslaughter charges against the oil giant for the deaths of 11 workers last year.
April 20, 2011- BP continues to receive tens of millions of dollars in government contracts, despite the fact that the British oil company is under federal criminal investigation over the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and twice violated its probation late last year.
Last week, the Defense Logistics AgencyawardedAir BP, a division of BP Products North America, a $42 million contract to supply fuel to Dover Air Force Base for the next month and a half. BP is the biggest supplier of fuel to the Defense Department.
What makes this particular contract unique is that it is one identified as "an unusual and compelling urgency" contract, which means the government would be "seriously injured"and national security could be at risk unless the Defense Logistics Agency was permitted to "limit the number of sources from which it solicits bids or proposals."