Archive for the ‘Congress’ Category

250px-46_Dick_Cheney_3x4I have long argued in my column as well as numerous blog postings that our country is legally bound to prosecute people responsible for ordering torture during the Bush Administration. There is no question that water boarding is torture as recognized by President Obama, Attorney General Holder, the United Nations and virtually every expert in this field. However, while you may want to try to rewrite legal precedent (as did John Yoo and Jay Bybee in their infamous Torture Memos), you should not try to rewrite history. That is what former Vice President Dick Cheney appears to be doing this month. He told Chuck Todd on Sunday that we never prosecuted anyone for water boarding — an assertion that I and others have repeatedly raised over the years. The statement is simply false and adds historical revisionism to legal revisionism in our sordid foray into torture.

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Adam_lanza_sandy_hook_shooter220px-Police_at_Sandy_HookThe families of nine of the 26 people killed two years ago at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut have filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer, distributor and seller of the Bushmaster AR-15 rifle used in the shooting. The lawsuit names Bushmaster, Camfour, a firearm distributor, and Riverview Gun Sales, the East Windsor store where Adam Lanza’s mother purchased the Bushmaster rifle in 2010. The plaintiffs include Sherlach and the families of Vicki Soto, Dylan Hockley, Noah Pozner, Lauren Rousseau, Benjamin Wheeler, Jesse Lewis, Daniel Barden, Rachel D’Avino and teacher Natalie Hammond (who was injured in the shooting). Despite great sympathy for these families and this teacher, the lawsuit has little merit in my view in seeking liability against the sale of a lawful weapon.

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158px-flag_of_afghanistansvgPresident_Barack_ObamaDespite the public pledge of President Obama to pull out of Afghanistan, we continue to spend huge amounts of money in the war and the Obama Administration has fought to keep U.S. troops in the country. Now an estimate from the Financial Times and independent researchers put the cost of the war at roughly $1 trillion with a commitment of hundreds of billions more in the coming years. There continues to be no serious debate over our ongoing losses both in personnel and money in this war.

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200px-Super_Bowl_logo.svgThe last ten years have been a windfall for insurance companies: first with the post-9-11 legislation and then Obamacare. Now however, lobbyists are threatening to cancel the Super Bowl unless Congress renews the TRIA—the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act to cover insurers so that they will not have to actually pay out for any costs associated with terrorism. There may be good reasons for the bill coverage but there are also some unanswered questions. Do not expect too many answers however.

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220px-John_Brennan_CIA_official_portrait

Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Weekend Contributor

This past week’s news reports of the Senate report on the CIA Torture program were both distressing and enlightening.   I was dismayed to not only read what the full extent of the CIA’s Torture program was, but also when I read pundits and former CIA officials claim that rectal rehydration was merely a medical procedure! I was further discouraged when commenters on this blog made claims that waterboarding and other torture tactics were either necessary or what the devils deserved.

Very few pundits or commenters seem to care if the so-called Enhanced Interrogation techniques were legal or ethical when the CIA resorted to them shortly after 9/11.  This “debate” over the actions taken in our name by the CIA has gone from a report based on the CIA’s own words to denials that the techniques were torture, to claims that great intelligence value was gained using the torture and claims that it was a biased report written by Democrats. (more…)

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By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Entreating the GodfatherWashington marijuana businesses are becoming financially tenuous in large part due to the imposition of heavy taxation. The matter has been further compounded beyond simply an unsustainable state excise tax of twenty five percent levied at all stages of the supply chain (marijuana producers, processors, and retailers) but a federal tax code that prevents the excise tax and conventional business expenses from being deducted from federal income taxes. This is due to a prohibition specifically applicable to marijuana. The accounting effect of this means marijuana businesses must also pay federal tax on what the business pays in state taxes.

Marijuana retailers have stated in interviews this double taxation alone swallows much of their profits. It shows another formidable challenge to the survivability of the licensed cannabis industry in Washington..

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220px-AlfedPalmersmokestacksgopREPUBLICANSA new poll shows broad support for carbon limits, including half of all Republicans. The poll comes out as scientists warn (as reported in the NY Times) that time is running out on climate change and, without decisive action, the world could eventually become uninhabitable for humans. Today, the Pope added his voice to the overwhelming weight of world scientists that time is running out. Likewise, island nations are now demanding action and calling on the world to witness the loss of their very existence to the rising seas.

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