Nearly 47 million people – one in seven Americans – rely on food stamps for some or all of their daily sustenance, according to the Department of Agriculture, a number that has grown nearly 70 percent since the financial collapse of 2008.
The increased enrollment has caused costs to soar from $35 billion in 2007 to $80 billion last year, and now lawmakers in both the House and the Senate are targeting program for cuts even as advocates cry foul.
(CNSNews.com) – The federal government is spending $146,944 in taxpayer funds to research sending automated text messages to people with depression to remind them to take their medication and monitor their mood and thoughts.
The text messages will “prompt patients to monitor mood, thoughts and behaviors.” It will also “provide medication and appointment reminders,” and send personalized cognitive behavioral therapy based tips.
“Poor adherence to depression treatments (psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy) limits their effectiveness in community settings. Problems with adherence are especially pronounced in low-income settings. Innovative and cost-effective methods are needed to improve adherence to treatments and maximize mental health resources,” the project description said.
“Mobile phone based text messaging (or short messaging service: SMS) is a ubiquitous technology that has been used in various health applications across socioeconomic status. This technology has the potential to increase the fidelity of mental health treatments via increased adherence,” it said.
“The proposed research project will test whether adding an automated SMS adjunct to group cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for depression can increase adherence (homework adherence, attendance, medication adherence) and further reduce depression symptoms,” it added.
The $146,944 grant given to the University of California Berkeley is made up of $136,059 in direct cost and $10,885 in indirect costs and is administered by the National Institute of Mental Health.
The project starts on May 23, 2012 and ends on Feb. 28, 2017. The budget start date was March 1, 2013, and the budget end date is Feb. 28, 2014.
Phone calls to project leader Adrian Aguilera, assistant professor for the School of Social Welfare/Work at UC Berkeley, were not returned by press time.
The newspaper said that the exceptionally high level of taxation was due to a one-off levy last year on 2011 incomes for households with assets of more than 1.3 million euros ($1.67 million).
President Francois Hollande’s Socialist government imposed the tax surcharge last year, shortly after taking office, to offset the impact of a rebate scheme created by its conservative predecessor to cap an individual’s overall taxation at 50 percent of income.
The government has been forced to redraft a proposed bill to levy a temporary 75 percent tax on earnings over 1 million euros, which had been one of Hollande’s campaign pledges.
The Constitutional Council has judged such a high rate of taxation to be unfair, leaving the government to rehash it to hit companies rather than individuals.
Since then, a top administrative court has determined that a marginal tax rate higher than 66.66 percent on a single household risked being considered as confiscatory by the council.
Les Echos reported that nearly 12,000 households paid taxes last year worth more than 75 percent of their 2011 revenues due to the exceptional levy. ($1 = 0.7798 euros)
(Reporting by Leigh Thomas, Editing by Mark Trevelyan)
The acting commissioner of the IRS has resigned. President
Obama claims that this is the beginning of an effort to “hold the responsible parties accountable” for their audit-based political witch hunt. In reality, Acting Commissioner Steven Miller was already scheduled to step down on June 9th, so this move really just lets him walk away a few weeks early. It’s theater, designed to make it look like Barack Obama is doing something to punish the perpetrators of a scandal while, in
reality, he’s just looking the other way – again.
It’s his administration’s standard M.O. – thug it up, then feign outrage, repeat as necessary.
Fortunately, we’ve got people like Representative Mike Kelly
who aren’t afraid to unleash a little actual fury on the IRS. Earlier today, during the House Ways and Means Committee’s hearings on the matter, Kelly launched into a blistering attack that gets to the core of how deeply troubling the Obama admin’s culture of intimidation really is.
“If you think it’s uncomfortable sitting over there, you ought to be a private individual when the IRS is across from you,” Kelly said. “I have a grandson who is afraid to get out of bed at night because he thinks there’s somebody under the bed that’s going to grab him, and I think most Americans feel that way about the IRS. You get a letter from you folks or a phone call? It’s with terror that you look at it.”
Kelly continued to blast away at the IRS’s lack of oversight and restraint, calling it a “Pandora’s Box” that has outraged the American people.
It’s rare that you see a member of Congress get quite this intense in these kinds of hearings. The amazing thing is that no one, on either side of the aisle, seems to disagree with him. The ovation that Kelly receives at the end of his firestorm pretty much sums up the feelings of almost every American.
Yes, these are just words, and yes, they need to be followed up with action. But consider this: How rare is it to see a Republican Congressman level this kind of attack and hear not one peep of criticism from the mainstream media?
This is a country that is deeply fed up with being on the receiving end of government abuse….
Dan Calabrese’s new column on Hillary Clinton’s past may bring the curtain down on her political future. Calabrese interviewed Jerry Zeifman, the man who served as chief counsel to the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate hearings, has tried to tell the story of his former staffer’s behavior during those proceedings for years. Zeifman claims he fired Hillary for unethical behavior and that she conspired to deny Richard Nixon counsel during the hearings:
As Hillary Clinton came under increasing scrutiny for her story about facing sniper fire in Bosnia, one question that arose was whether she has engaged in a pattern of lying.
The now-retired general counsel and chief of staff of the House Judiciary Committee, who supervised Hillary when she worked on the Watergate investigation, says Hillary’s history of lies and unethical behavior goes back farther – and goes much deeper – than anyone realizes.
Jerry Zeifman, a lifelong Democrat, supervised the work of 27-year-old Hillary Rodham on the committee. Hillary got a job working on the investigation at the behest of her former law professor, Burke Marshall, who was also Sen. Ted Kennedy’s chief counsel in the Chappaquiddick affair. When the investigation was over, Zeifman fired Hillary from the committee staff and refused to give her a letter of recommendation – one of only three people who earned that dubious distinction in Zeifman’s 17-year career.
“Because she was a liar,” Zeifman said in an interview last week. “She was an unethical, dishonest lawyer. She conspired to violate the Constitution, the rules of the House, the rules of the committee and the rules of confidentiality.”
This isn’t exactly news. When her lachrymose performance arguably won her New Hampshire, Zeifman tried to tell people about Hillary’s duplicity. Patterico noticed the effort, but few others picked it up. Zeifman wrote at his website:
After hiring Hillary, Doar assigned her to confer with me regarding rules of procedure for the impeachment inquiry. At my first meeting with her I told her that Judiciary Committee Chairman Peter Rodino, House Speaker Carl Albert, Majority Leader “Tip” O’Neill, Parliamentarian Lou Deschler and I had previously all agreed that we should rely only on the then existing House Rules, and not advocate any changes. I also quoted Tip O’Neill’s statement that: “To try to change the rules now would be politically divisive. It would be like trying to change the traditional rules of baseball before a World Series.”
Hillary assured me that she had not drafted, and would not advocate, any such rules changes. However, as documented in my personal diary, I soon learned that she had lied. She had already drafted changes, and continued to advocate them. In one written legal memorandum, she advocated denying President Nixon
representation by counsel. In so doing she simply ignored the fact that in the committee’s then most recent prior impeachment proceeding, the committee had afforded the right to counsel to Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas.
I had also informed Hillary that the Douglas impeachment files were available for public inspection in the committee offices. She later removed the Douglas files without my permission and carried them to the offices of the impeachment inquiry staff — where they were no longer accessible to the public.
Hillary had also made other ethical flawed procedural recommendations, arguing that the Judiciary Committee should: not hold any hearings with – or take depositions of — any live witnesses; not conduct any original investigation of Watergate, bribery, tax evasion, or any other possible impeachable offense of President Nixon; and should rely solely on documentary evidence compiled by other committees and by the Justice Departments special Watergate prosecutor .
The right to counsel is considered one of the inviolable tenets of our justice system. It doesn’t speak well of ambitious attorneys working on a highly-charged political investigation that she wanted to deny someone the right to an attorney. Small wonder Zeifman questioned her ethics.
I’ll be simple and to the point here. Only in congress can the employee tell the employer when and how much of a raise they can give themselves. Congress and the Senate consider themselves federal “employees”. I say they are not federal employees at all and should be completely removed from all federal payroll and benefit rolls. These people (congressmen) are actually employees of the districts they represent, and senators are actually employees of the states they represent. I propose congressmen be paid by the districts, and senators be paid by the states they represent. This is how the people will get back control of the power of the government. This in my opinion is truly the answer.
When it became clear last fall that the CIA’s now discredited Benghazi talking points were flawed, the White House said repeatedly the documents were put together almost entirely by the intelligence community, but White House documents reviewed by Congress suggest a different story.
ABC News has obtained 12 different versions of the talking points that show they were extensively edited as they evolved from the drafts first written entirely by the CIA to the final version distributed to Congress and to U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice before she appeared on five talk shows the Sunday after that attack.
White House emails reviewed by ABC News suggest the edits were made with extensive input from the State Department. The edits included requests from the State Department that references to the Al Qaeda-affiliated group Ansar al-Sharia be deleted as well references to CIA warnings about terrorist threats in Benghazi in the months preceding the attack.
That would appear to directly contradict what White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said about the talking points in November.
“Those talking points originated from the intelligence community. They reflect the IC’s best assessments of what they thought had happened,” Carney told reporters at the White House press briefing on November 28, 2012. “The White House and the State Department have made clear that the single adjustment that was made to those talking points by either of those two institutions were changing the word ‘consulate’ to ‘diplomatic facility’ because ‘consulate’ was inaccurate.”
Summaries of White House and State Department emails — some of which were first published by Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard — show that the State Department had extensive input into the editing of the talking points.
State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland raised specific objections to this paragraph drafted by the CIA in its earlier versions of the talking points:
“The Agency has produced numerous pieces on the threat of extremists linked to al-Qa’ida in Benghazi and eastern Libya. These noted that, since April, there have been at least five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi by unidentified assailants, including the June attack against the British Ambassador’s convoy. We cannot rule out the individuals has previously surveilled the U.S. facilities, also contributing to the efficacy of the attacks.”
In an email to officials at the White House and the intelligence agencies, State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland took issue with including that information because it “could be abused by members [of Congress] to beat up the State Department for not paying attention to warnings, so why would we want to feed that either? Concerned …”
The paragraph was entirely deleted.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Internal Revenue Service apologized Friday for what it acknowledged was “inappropriate” targeting of conservative political groups during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status.
IRS agents singled out dozens of organizations for additional reviews because they included the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their exemption applications, said Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt groups. In some cases, groups were asked for lists of donors, which violates IRS policy in most cases, she said.
The agency — led at the time by a Bush administration appointee — blamed low-level employees, saying no high-level officials were aware. But that wasn’t good enough for Republicans in Congress, who are conducting several investigations and asked for more.
“I call on the White House to conduct a transparent, government-wide review aimed at assuring the American people that these thuggish practices are not under way at the IRS or elsewhere in the administration against anyone, regardless of their political views,” said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
White House spokesman Jay Carney declared it was indeed inappropriate for the IRS to target tea party groups. But he brushed aside questions about whether the White House itself would investigate.
Instead, Carney said the administration expects a thorough investigation by the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration. The inspector general has been looking into the issue since last summer, and his report is expected to come out next week, the IG’s office said Friday.
Carney said he did not know when the White House first learned that tea party groups were being targeted.
Lerner acknowledged it was wrong for the agency to target groups based on political affiliation.
“That was absolutely incorrect, it was insensitive and it was inappropriate. That’s not how we go about selecting cases for further review,” Lerner said at a conference sponsored by the American Bar Association.
“The IRS would like to apologize for that,” she added.
(CBS News) “Everybody in the mission” in Benghazi, Libya, thought the attack on a U.S. consulate there last Sept. 11 was an act of terror “from the get-go,” according to excerpts of an interview investigators conducted with the No. 2 official in Libya at the time, obtained by CBS News’ “Face the Nation.”
“I think everybody in the mission thought it was a terrorist attack from the beginning,” Greg Hicks, a 22-year foreign service diplomat who was the highest-ranking U.S. official in Libya after the strike, told investigators under authority of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Hicks, the former U.S. Embassy Tripoli deputy chief of mission, was not in Benghazi at the time of the attack, which killed Chris Stevens – then the U.S. ambassador to Libya – and three other Americans.
When he appears this week before the committee, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., Hicks is expected to offer testimony at odds with what some American officials were saying in public – and on “Face the Nation” – just five days after the attack. Benghazi whistleblowers have rallied attention to discrepancies among the administration’s reaction to the attack, which The Weekly Standard suggests was frayed by ever-evolving talking points that sought to remove references to al Qaeda.
On Sept. 16, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice hit the media circuit, appearing on all five Sunday talk shows to dispel the
notion that the strike was a premeditated terrorist act and to perpetuate the case that it began “spontaneously” out of protests in Egypt. Rice’s spot on “Face the Nation” that day was preceded by the new President of Libya Mohammed al-Magariaf, who said his government had “nodoubt that this was preplanned, predetermined.”
“For there to have been a demonstration on Chris Stevens’s front door and him not to have reported it is unbelievable,” he said. “I never reported a demonstration; I reported an attack on the consulate. Chris -Chris’s last report, if you want to say his final report – is, ‘Greg, we are under attack.’
“…I’ve never been as embarrassed in my life, in my career, as on that day,” Hicks continued in his interview with investigators. “The net impact of what has transpired is, [Rice,] the spokesperson of the most powerful country in the world, has basically said that the president of Libya is either a liar of doesn’t know what he’s talking about. ….My jaw hit the floor as I watched this.”
Though the White House has said it was in contact with officials in Libya the night of the attack, Hicks said in the days following, he was never consulted about the talking points. One day after Rice’s Sunday show blitz, Hicks said he called Beth Jones, acting assistant secretary for near eastern affairs at the State Department, and asked, “Why did Amb. Rice say that?” The tone of her answer – “I don’t know,” he said – indicated that “I perhaps asked a question that I should not have asked.”
The net impact of Rice’s statements, Hicks said, was “immeasurable.” On top of his personal belief that “the reason it took us so long to get the FBI to Benghazi is because of those Sunday talk shows,” he said, Magariaf lost face “in front of not only his own people, but the world” at a time of democratic transition in his country. He added, “I have heard from a friend who had dinner with President Magariaf in New York City that he was still angry at Amb. Rice well after the incident.”
“Let’s be clear,” said Carney. “Benghazi happened a long time ago. We are unaware of any agency blocking an employee who would like to appear before Congress to provide information related to Benghazi.”
Oh yes, nothing to see here, just move along.