Archives for FUBAR

Signs of relief, widespread disgust

A collective sense of relief resonated across the nation Saturday, now that a federal government shutdown is merely a thought of what could have been. Thousands of tourists poured into the Smithsonian museums in Washington — which would have been shuttered without Friday’s late-night budget deal — to see artifacts like the original “Star-Spangled Banner” flag. And military families won’t have to stock their freezers, not knowing when they might have another paycheck to put food on the table. The only thing that rivals their comfort? Widespread disgust, knowing that political bickering made them cringe in the first place. Matthew
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Last-minute deal avoids shutdown

A last minute budget deal, forged amid bluster and tough bargaining, averted an embarrassing federal shutdown and cut billions in spending — the first major test of the divided government voters ushered in five months ago. Working late into the evening Friday, congressional and White House negotiators struck an agreement to pay for government operations through the end of September while trimming $38.5 billion in spending. Lawmakers then approved a days-long stopgap measure to keep the government running while the details of the new spending plan were written into legislation. Actual approval of the deal would come in mid-week. “Today
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Budget battle tests Obama’s leadership

President Barack Obama promised to change Washington’s ways. Yet he is as caught up in them as ever. It was just at the start of this week that Obama launched his re-election bid with a sunny video of real people talking about their hopes and needs. It was the very image of life outside Washington politics. By week’s end, Obama was mired in budget negotiations, canceling trips and scrambling to hold off a government shutdown that would surely erode the public’s faith in his leadership. That’s the messy business of governing. And this is how it is going to be
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Planned parenthood, abotion and budgets

Republicans portray Planned Parenthood as primarily focused on performing abortions and — intentionally or not — using American taxpayer dollars to do it. Not so, say Democrats who counter that the group’s 800-plus health centers nationwide provide an array of services, from screenings for cancer to testing for sexually transmitted diseases. Abortion is just one of many procedures, and the law bars Planned Parenthood from using tax money for it. In the budget maelstrom Friday stood Planned Parenthood Federation of America, a 90-year-old organization now part of a decades-long congressional battle over abortion. Republicans wanted any legislation keeping the government
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House votes to overturn net neutrality

The House of Representatives voted on Friday to overturn “net neutrality” rules aimed at ensuring an open Internet, setting the stage for a clash with the Senate and President Barack Obama. The House voted 240-179 in favor of a Republican-backed resolution that seeks to block the rules approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The House vote went almost entirely along party lines although six Democrats joined the Republicans in voting for the resolution and two Republicans opposed it. The five-member, Democratic-controlled FCC, in a vote split on party lines, agreed in December to the rules aimed at safeguarding “network
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IRS snitch gets $4.5 million whistleblower award

An accountant who tipped off the IRS that his employer was skimping on taxes has received $4.5 million in the first IRS whistleblower award. The accountant’s tip netted the IRS $20 million in taxes and interest from the errant financial-services firm. The award represents a 22 percent cut of the taxes recovered. The program, designed to encourage tips in large-scale cases, mandates awards of 15 to 30 percent of the amount recouped. “It ought to encourage a lot of other people to squeal,” Sen. Charles Grassley told The Associated Press. The Iowa Republican helped get the IRS Whistleblower Office authorized
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Probe delays certification of disputed Wisconsin judge’s race

The agency overseeing Wisconsin elections will not certify results of Tuesday’s state Supreme Court race until it concludes a probe into how a county clerk misplaced and then found some 14,000 votes that upended the contest. Michael Haas, Government Accountability Board staff attorney, told Reuters on Friday the watchdog agency was looking into vote tabulation errors in Republican-leaning Waukesha County which gave the conservative incumbent a net gain of more than 7,000 votes — a lead his union-backed challenger seems unlikely to surmount. “We’re going to do a review of the procedures and the records in Waukesha before we certify
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Terror suspects secretly detained for weeks

“Black sites,” the secret network of jails that grew up after the Sept. 11 attacks, are gone. But suspected terrorists are still being held under hazy circumstances with uncertain rights in secret, military-run jails across Afghanistan, where they can be interrogated for weeks without charge, according to U.S. officials who revealed details of the top-secret network to The Associated Press. The Pentagon has previously denied operating secret jails in Afghanistan, although human rights groups and former detainees have described the facilities. U.S. military and other government officials confirmed that the detention centers exist but described them as temporary holding pens
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Arizona passes law allowing guns on campuses

The Arizona House on Thursday approved a landmark bill allowing guns on campuses, making it only the second state in the nation to allow firearms to be carried at colleges and universities. The Republican-led House voted 33 to 24 to allow firearms to be carried in the open or concealed in public rights of way, such as campus streets and roadways. “We’re allowing people to defend themselves,” said Rep. David Gowan Sr., a Republican, who voted for the bill. “The purpose of carrying a gun with you is to defend yourself against that aggressor,” he added. The measure now goes
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Social Security ending mailed earning statements

Those yearly statements that Social Security mails out — here’s what you’d get if you retired at 62, at 66, at 70 — will soon stop arriving in workers’ mailboxes. It’s an effort to save money and steer more people to the agency’s website. The government is working to provide the statements online by the end of the year, if it can resolve security issues, Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue said. If that fails, the agency will resume the paper statements, which cost $70 million a year to mail, he said. “We’ll provide it, we expect, one way or another,
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