By: Elmer Williams
Let taxpayers foot sex-op bill: panel
By CARL CAMPANILE
Last Updated: 11:10 AM, September 29, 2011
Posted: 12:18 AM, September 29, 2011
A state panel advising Gov. Cuomo wants taxpayers to foot the bill for transgender residents to get “sexual-reassignment surgery,” allowing them to change their physical characteristics from a man to a woman or woman to man, The Post has learned.
New York’s costliest-in-the-nation Medicaid program would cover the tab.
“Provide Medicaid coverage for transgender surgery/hormone replace-ment therapy and treatment,” read the proposal submitted by the state “health disparities work group.’’
The panel is submitting recommendations to Cuomo’s Medicaid Redesign Team for possible inclusion in the governor’s budget plan.
A state Health Department spokesman confirmed that requiring Medicaid to cover gender reassignment surgery is being considered by the governor’s team.
“Medicaid doesn’t cover the surgery,” said the Health Department’s Jeff Gordon.
“This issue is under review by the Medicaid Redesign Team.”
The proposal, coming just months after Cuomo won national attention for steering a gay-marriage law through the state Legislature, came under fire from the political right.
“This is an outrageous abuse of taxpayer dollars,” said state Conservative Party chairman Mike Long
“This is an expensive mandate. We already live in the highest-taxed state in the nation.”
Long insisted sex-change procedures are cosmetic and encourage permissiveness, adding, “I hope the governor doesn’t push the envelope on this.’’
The idea will face resistance in the Republican-controlled state Senate.
“It doesn’t seem to be appropriate,” said Senate Health Committee Chairman Kemp Hannon (R-Nassau).
But supporters of transgender surgery said New York will be hard pressed to continue to bar what health experts — including the American Medical Medical Association — now call “medically necessary’’ procedures to help patients with “gender-identity disorder.’’
Barring Medicaid coverage to transgender people amounts to discrimination, advocates have maintained.
‘‘We believe Medicaid should cover health care that is medically necessary,’’ said Ross Levi, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, a gay and transgender rights advocacy group.
Levi said at least two other states –CaliforniaandMinnesota– provide Medicaid coverage for transgender surgery and hormone replacement therapy.
He said he was hopeful that Cuomo, who supports passage of a transgender civil-rights bill, will back the Medicaid proposal.
Advocates say there are tens of thousands of New Yorkers who are transgender.
New York’s Medicaid exclusion of medical services for gender surgery was adopted in 1997, based on the assumption that such procedures were ‘‘experimental’’ and not a medical necessity, according to an analysis by the New York City Bar Association.
The report said a large number of transgender residents are poor people who qualify for Medicaid, the public health insurance for the needy.
“New York’s Medicaid exclusion for gender reassignment services denies health insurance on the basis of gender identity, and is based on outdated interpretations of medical need,” said the Bar Association’s committee on transgender rights.
$737 Million Green Loan to Pelosi Kin Fuels Outrage
Friday, 30 Sep 2011 06:10 PM
By Martin Gould
Newsmax.com: $737 Million Green Loan to Pelosi Kin Fuels Outrage
GOP claims that the Obama administration’s green energy loan guarantee program is mired in cronyism grew on Friday after a company tied to Nancy Pelosi’s brother-in-law got the lion’s share of the final government hand-outs made before Friday’s end of the fiscal year.
The decision to guarantee $737 million comes hard on the heels of the loss of more than $500 million of government money due to the bankruptcy of solar panel company Solyndra.
The new grant went to Tonopah Solar Energy, a subsidiary of SolarReserve, which started building Crescent Dunes, a massive solar-thermal plant in the Nevada desert in early September.
One of SolarReserve’s major financial backers is the PCG Clean Energy & Technology Fund (East), whose second-in-command is Ronald Pelosi, the brother of the House Minority leader’s husband, Paul. Another investor is Argonaut Private Equity, a company that lost heavily in the Solyndra debacle.
Already one Republican member of the House Energy and Commerce promised Newsmax that he will be keeping a close eye on the loan to SolarReserve. “You had better believe it is going to be looked at,” said Texas Rep. Michael Burgess.
“With Solyndra, they got into trouble because they were rushing because they wanted a photo-op,” said Burgess referring to accusations that that agreement was rushed through so Vice President Joe Biden could announce it when he visited the company’s headquarters.
“Now they have pushed around one-third of the loan guarantee program out of the door in the last four or five days of the fiscal year and that sounds to me like they were going to be rushing.”
Burgess said there has so far been no suggestion that the guarantee was given due to cronyism, but he told Newsmax, “How can they be so tone deaf to do this right now when there is scrutiny on this program? They are putting other solar and wind projects at risk if they continue to behave in this dismissive way.”
Others too questioned the grants. Texas GOP Rep. Joe Barton, former chairman of the Energy Committee called for closer investigation before more money is paid out. “Are these good investments or political favors?” he asked. “The American people just lost a half billion dollars and they deserve answers to these questions before more money is wasted.”
And the conservative Weekly Standard wrote, “It’s increasingly hard to tell the government’s green jobs subsidies apart from the Democrats’ friends and family rewards program.”
Ronald Pelosi, 76, is a member of one of California’s most powerful Democratic families. He is a former president of both the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and the San Francisco Planning Commission as well as sitting on many other boards in the Bay City. His nephew Gavin Newsom is currently the Lieutenant Governor of California.
Pelosi joined PCG this past spring and his biography on the company website describes him as having “an extensive background in the securities industry, mutual funds, and private equity.”
Argonaut’s links to both SolarReserve and Solyndra are being closely examined by Republicans. The fund is headed by George Kaiser, a major Democratic donor. Argonaut’s managing director Steve Mitchell sat on the Solyndra board and is a “board participant” at SolarReserve.
Under the Crescent Dunes plan, more than 17,000 specially designed mirrors will collect the sun’s energy and focus it to heat molten salt, which will flow from a 640-ft. tower to produce steam to run a turbine that will generate electricity.
Once the project is online in 2013, excess energy will be stored in the salt for up to 10 hours so power can still be generated at night. Backers say the project will prevent 290,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide being pumped into the atmosphere annually and produce enough electricity for 43,000 homes.
In announcing the grant, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Crescent Dunes will be the “first of its kind in the United States and the tallest molten salt tower in the world.” He said the project will provide employment for 600 construction workers – although the company’s own website puts that number at “400-500” – and create 45 permanent jobs.
“If we want to be a player in the global clean energy race, we must continue to invest in innovative technologies that enable commercial-scale deployment of clean, renewable power like solar,” added Chu.
“Solar generation facilities, like the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project, help supply energy to local utilities and create hundreds of good, American clean energy jobs.”
Just hours before the announcement of the Crescent Dunes loan Republican Rep. Cliff Stearns, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Oversight Subcommittee expressed concern that the government was rushing payments to meet a Sept. 30 deadline.
“The deadline has been on the calendar since the stimulus was signed into law in February 2009, which means DOE has known exactly how much time it had to perform due diligence and approve guarantees for fully vetted and worthy entities,” said the Florida congressman.
“The administration’s flagship project Solyndra is bankrupt and being investigated by the FBI, the promised jobs never materialized and now DOE is preparing to rush out nearly $5 billion in loans in the final 48 hours before stimulus funds expire,” added Stearns. “That’s nearly $105 million every hour that must be finalized until the deadline.
“Solyndra was the product of a bad bet rushed out the door and taxpayers are now on the hook. We cannot afford DOE rushing out more Solyndras in these final hours.”
The Solyndra scandal has cost taxpayers $535 million following the company’s bankruptcy in early September. The company, whose principals have given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democratic causes is now being investigated by the FBI for fraud.
Last week CEO Brian Harrison and chief financial officer Bill Stover repeatedly invoked their Fifth Amendment rights not to testify when they appeared before the full House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Panel chairman, Rep. Fred Upton attacked the decision to give Solyndra the loan guarantee calling it “reckless use of taxpayer dollars on a company that was known to pose serious risks before a single dime went out the door.”
“It appears we have a great heist of over half a billion dollars and … maybe even co-conspirators called the U.S. government,” added Upton.
By: Elmer Williams
(Common Sense is Gone)
In an article from the Washington Times that was writing by Rahim Faiez who writes for the Associated Press. The Headline from the article says “Afghan president says talks with Taliban useless”. The suicide bomber who killed the former Afghan President Burhauddin Rabbani was supposedly offering an audio recording of a peace message.
Once the suicide bomber gained access he did what these animals always do. He blew himself up killing the former president of Afghan. The Taliban has a governing council know as the Quetta Shura which is named after a city in Pakistan. “Wait I thought that the Pakistani’s were our allies”.
Why would the Taliban name its council after Quetta, which is the capital of Balochistan a Province in Pakistan? I will tell you why because Pakestan is not our friends. Why do you think Osama Bin Laden was found hiding in Pakestan.
The current President of Afghan Hamid Karzai said that he should cut off negotiations with the Taliban and began talks with Pakistan. While he was right in his assessment of talks with the Taliban being “useless”, he is in strong delusions if he believes that it will go better with Pakistan.
Just ask Israel if these people are rational and they will tell you without a doubt they are not. If you are an infidel, which means that you are not Muslim, or if you are attempting to help the infidel, just forget it. You will be declared the enemy. They have an agenda and that agenda is to take over the world.
If I went out to the Jungle and decided that I was going to have a one on one negotiation with a Lion the King of the Jungle. I could use rational and say “Hi Mr. Lion I want you to stop going around eating the other animals when you get hungry”. Also if you happen to see any humans walking around please don’t bite them just be loving please.
Do you suspect that the lion will be reasonable and say okay we can all just get along? Common Sense should tell anyone who is attempting this feat, that they will not succeed. Maybe that is the problem we have gotten away from using common sense. So at some point you should ask yourself “What Ever Happen To Common Sense”.
Google Joins Apple in Push for Tax Holiday
By Richard Rubin and Jesse Drucker – Sep 28, 2011 11:01 PM CT
As a coalition led by Apple Inc. (AAPL), Google Inc. (GOOG), and Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) presses for a tax holiday on more than $1 trillion in offshore profits, it is turning to a well-positioned lobbyist: Jeffrey Forbes, once chief of staff to Max Baucus, chairman of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee.
Data compiled by Bloomberg News show that Forbes is part of an army of more than 160 lobbyists, including at least 60 who once worked for a sitting member of the House or Senate, pushing for the repatriation holiday. Their job is to persuade Congress to establish a tax break estimated to cost theU.S.government $78.7 billion over the next decade.
Independent studies have found that the last time this tax break was tried, in 2004, the bargain rate for bringing home offshore profits did little to spur hiring or domestic investment. Most of the money was used to buy back stock.
“This is an issue that involves a whole lot of people hired by corporations that are pushing for those corporate interests rather than the public interest,” said James A. Thurber, director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at AmericanUniversityin Washington.
Though the studies found that money brought home in 2004 ended up benefiting a narrow set of shareholders, support is growing in Congress for the tax holiday as companies expand their roster of lobbyists. One case they are making is that the potential flood of cash will boost the falteringU.S.economy.
“There are many issues that are very important but are complex and don’t seem of great importance to the wider public – – those are the issues primed for having people who formerly worked on the Hill or executive branch intervening in making policy,” Thurber said.
Those with Capitol Hill connections who are lobbying for the repatriation tax break include former Louisiana Representative Jim McCrery, who until 2009 was the top Republican on the U.S. House’s tax-writing Ways and Means Committee; Dena Battle, the former legislative director for that committee’s current chairman, Representative Dave Camp, a Michigan Republican; and at least four former staffers for House Speaker John Boehner.
Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said former staff members don’t influence policy. “The speaker makes such decisions based on what is best for his constituents and the American people,” Steel said.
‘Regenerate the Economy’
Advocates for the break say a repatriation holiday would bring more than $1 trillion to theU.S.now held overseas.
“It would do much to regenerate the economy,” said Robert Livingston, a former Republican chairman of the House Appropriations Committee and speaker-designate who is now lobbying for Oracle Corp. (ORCL) “A total of $1.5 trillion from all affected U.S. companies would go a long way to pull us out of the doldrums.”
There are more insiders pushing for the tax holiday than those in Bloomberg News’ tally of at least 60. That figure includes only registered lobbyists who worked for a sitting member of Congress and disclosed lobbying on the issue for the WIN America Campaign, the group of companies seeking the break, or for one of the companies or associations in the coalition.
WIN America is coordinated by SKDKnickerbocker, a Washington political consulting and public relations firm, which includes as a managing director Anita Dunn, former communications director for President Barack Obama. Dunn isn’t a registered lobbyist.
The list of more than 160 lobbyists includes other longtime fixtures in Washington, such as former Representative Livingston; Democratic fundraiser Tony Podesta; and Kenneth Kies, former chief of staff of the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation.
The proposed break has gained momentum in recent months, with several prominent Democrats, including Senator Charles Schumer of New York, expressing a willingness to consider the tax holiday. Meanwhile, Republican presidential candidates Michele Bachmann, a House member from Minnesota, and Texas Governor Rick Perry have called on Congress to let companies bring home offshore earnings at a reduced tax rate.
The Obama administration has said it is opposed to a stand- alone tax holiday for repatriated profits, pointing to the 2004 experience. Obama has been taking aim at tax breaks benefiting certain industries, such as oil and gas, and deductions and exclusions claimed by millionaires. He has embraced changes suggested by billionaire Warren Buffett, who has said he pays taxes at a lower rate than his secretary.
U.S.multinational companies have amassed more than $1.375 trillion in profits overseas on which they have paid no federal income tax, according to a recent report by JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) When the earnings are returned to theU.S. — or repatriated — they are taxed at the top corporate rate of 35 percent, with credits for foreign income taxes paid.
The companies are pushing to reprise the 2004 holiday that allowed them to bring home offshore earnings at a low tax rate of 5.25 percent. Under that break, companies repatriated to the U.S. $312 billion, largely for stock repurchases rather than direct hiring or investment, according to a recent paper in the Journal of Finance, the latest in a series of studies that reached similar conclusions.
The proposed holiday would reward the companies that have most aggressively parked profits in tax havens such as Bermuda, the Cayman Islands andSwitzerland, said Martin A. Sullivan, a former Treasury Department economist and contributing editor for the non-partisan Tax Notes.
“A lot of what companies report as foreign profit is reallyU.S.profit that should be subject toU.S.tax,” Sullivan said. “Those earnings didn’t get overseas by accident. Many of these companies intentionally put them there to avoid payingU.S.taxes.”
Tally of Lobbyists
Bloomberg’s tally covers individuals who were registered to lobby on the repatriation issue at some point in the first half of this year, the period for which records are available. Some of the lobbyists have since left their firms. The figures don’t include those who were listed as lobbying on general tax issues for companies in the WINAmericacoalition, except where the lobbyists confirmed to Bloomberg News that they were working on repatriation.
Newer members of the revolving-door community are involved, such as Danielle Maurer, a lobbyist at the Republican firm of Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock. It has been paid $160,000 so far this year by Oracle to lobby on a variety of tax issues, and the Win America coalition recently hired the firm. Maurer had been director of member services for Boehner, helping assign House members to committees.
In all, three former staffers of Baucus, the Finance Committee’s chairman since 2007, are lobbying on the repatriation holiday. Besides Forbes, there’s Nick Giordano of Washington Council Ernst & Young, a longtime Cisco lobbyist. Microsoft has retained Timothy E. Punke, a former adviser to Baucus on trade issues who is active in Democratic politics.
The WIN Americacampaign’s manager is Karen Olick, former chief of staff to Senator Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat. One of the spokesmen for the group is Doug Thornell, who most recently was a staffer for Representative Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat who is a member of the House leadership. Like Anita Dunn, Thornell and Olick aren’t registered lobbyists.
“Our economy needs all the help it can get, and leaving this money in foreign banks when we could bring it home now makes no sense,” Thornell said.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at Msilva34@bloomberg.net
Don’t Mess WithTexas (Common Sense Has Left Us)
The U.S. Supreme Court denied a Mexican man’s request for an execution stay inTexas, calling his argument meritless.
Humberto Leal, 38, a Mexican national and convicted murder, has since been moved to a holding cell a few steps away from the Texas death chamber, an indicator that he is hours away from the lethal injection cocktail.
He is set to die for the 1994 brutal rape and murder of 16-year-old Adria Sauceda, of San Antonio.
President Obama, the State Department and Mexican authorities have all asked Texas for a last-minute reprieve, citing the U.N.-enforced 1963 Vienna Treaty, which requires foreign nationals who are arrested in foreign countries the right to access their consulates.
The White House asked for a stay in the case that has pitted Texas justice against international treaty rights.
In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court said, “We have no authority to stay an execution in light of an “appeal of the President,” presenting free-ranging assertions of foreign policy consequences, when those assertions come unaccompanied by a persuasive legal claim.”
An hour before the 6 p.m. scheduled execution, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has yet to make a decision regarding whether to stay the execution, a spokeswoman said.
Leal, who moved with his family from Mexico to the U.S. as a toddler, contends police never told him he could seek legal assistance from the Mexican government under the treaty — and that such assistance would have helped his defense.
Sauceda, his victim, was found naked by authorities, according to court documents.
“There was a 30- to 40-pound asphalt rock roughly twice the size of the victim’s skull lying partially on the victim’s left arm,” court documents read. “Blood was underneath this rock. A smaller rock with blood on it was located near the victim’s right thigh.”
A “bloody and broken” stick roughly 15 inches long with a screw at the end of it was also protruding from the girl’s vagina, according to the documents.
Prosecutors said Sauceda was drunk and high on cocaine the night she was killed, and that Leal offered to take her home. Witnesses said Leal drove off with her around 5 a.m. Some partygoers found her brutalized nude body later that morning and called police.
A witness testified that Leal’s brother appeared at the party, agitated that Leal had arrived home bloody and saying he had killed a girl.
In his first statement to police, Leal said Sauceda bolted from his car and ran off. After he was told his brother had given detectives a statement, he changed his story, saying Sauceda attacked him and fell to the ground after he fought back. He said when he couldn’t wake her and saw bubbles in her nose, he got scared and went home.
Leal’s supporters say he was never given the option to seek legal assistance from the Mexican government. Although evidence against Leal was strong, supporters say he incriminated himself and had other legal difficulties.
“If Texas were to proceed with the scheduled execution of Mr. Leal … there could be no dispute that that execution would be unlawful,” Sandra Babcock, a Northwestern University law professor who is one of Leal’s attorneys, said last week in her appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Last Friday, the Obama administration asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stop Texas from executing Leal, asking the court to delay the execution for up to six months to give Congress time to consider legislation that would enforce the U.N. treaty.
Congress had three years to pass the bill but did not. Hence, it is impossible to pass a bill that would spare Leal unless a stay is ordered. A 30-day stay granted by Perry is another potential way for Leal to avoid execution on Thursday.
Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have said if Texas disregards the treaty, it may have consequences for American citizens arrested abroad.
But the state of Texas appears to bristle at the idea of a foreign body affecting judgments in the state, even though President George W. Bush endorsed the U.N. ruling.
“Texas is not bound by a foreign court’s ruling,” Katherine Cesinger, press secretary for Gov. Perry’s office, said in a statement. “The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that the treaty was not binding on the states and that the president does not have the authority to order states to review cases of the then 51 foreign nationals on death row in the U.S.”
For 16 years, Leal has exercised his right to file appeals and motions so extensively, one judge in federal district court called his case “one of the most procedurally convoluted and complex habeas corpus proceedings” he ever reviewed.
As it stands, the death warrant could be served any time after 6 p.m. Thursday. Leal will be allowed to address the media, meet family and friends and eat his last meal: fried chicken, pico de Gallo and guisada tacos.
Meanwhile, in San Antonio, Adria’s father, Rene Sauceda, reportedly begins each morning by reading a South San Antonio High School newspaper clipping from May 25, 1995 — just after the first anniversary of his daughter’s death.
“I look at that every day,” Sauceda, 64, told the San Antonio Express-News. “Her friends paid to have that put in the newspaper. She had so many friends.”
Sauceda’s mother, Rachel Terry, told San Antonio television station KSAT her family already had suffered too long.
“A technicality doesn’t give anyone a right to come to this country and rape, torture and murder anyone,” she said.