Friday, December 15, 2017

Group behind voter ID, stand your ground, ag-gag, private prison, anti-muni-wifi, and killing Obamacare now planning rules for jailing pipeline protesters

Boing Boing

The American Legislative Exchange Council is a big-business-backed think tank whose funders run the gamut from oil companies to Tesla motors; they specialize in drafting insane, racist, voter-suppressing laws and getting them enacted at the state level, primarily by Republican state governments.

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Some Republicans are reconsidering the tax bill's attack on renewable energy


Lawmakers from states where wind and solar energy are booming want to preserve tax breaks for these industries.

Both the House and Senate versions of the Republican tax bill include provisions that threaten the wind and solar industries that are booming not just in California, but in red states like Texas, Wyoming, Kansas, and Iowa.

And as the Senate gets closer to a final vote, some Republicans are becoming squeamish about allowing those provisions through as they weigh their desire to cut taxes against wind and solar jobs for their constituents.

Texas, Wyoming, Kansas, and Colorado have become leaders in renewable energy and also benefit from federal incentives for electric cars and home efficiency upgrades.

But the GOP has to find ways to pay for its promised tax cuts — estimates price the current bills above $1 trillion. And so Republicans are scrambling to fill the void with ideas ranging from drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to undoing tax breaks for renewable power.

At the same time, this hemming and hawing over clean energy incentives has stalled more than $20 billion in investment.

The tax cut bills raise taxes on renewable energy

The Senate version of the Republican tax bill undermines investment in wind and solar power, which now generate 7 percent of our electricity, while preserving billions in tax subsidies for fossil energy.

The main issue for renewables is a provision in the Senate bill called the Base Erosion Anti-Abuse Tax (BEAT). The measure is aimed at companies that move money offshore to lower their tax liability in the United States. The BEAT adds a 10 percent minimum tax on businesses that don’t include cross-border payments in their income calculations.

How does this affect renewables? In the United States, the main incentive for erecting wind turbines and mounting solar farms is a tax credit (wind developers use the production tax credit and solar uses the investment tax credit). By invoking these credits, renewable energy developers can drive their corporate tax rate below 10 percent.

For smaller companies that don’t have a large enough tax liability, they can market their excess credits to tax equity investors.

However, renewable energy projects often have multinational backers, so companies looking to bring in foreign financing may end up with a higher tax bill as they pay off creditors abroad, in some cases canceling out the tax subsidies altogether.

As the law firm McDermott Will & Emery put it, “Multinational tax equity investors reducing their US tax liability from cross-border affiliate payments may therefore find that investments in ITC and PTC eligible projects after enactment of the BEAT are much less attractive.”

Or as Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) put it at a press conference on Wednesday, “it would kneecap clean energy.”

He added that the uncertainty of this provision has put investments in limbo, hampering an industry that would employ 500,000 Americans by 2020. The coal industry, by contrast, currently employs 50,000 people.

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Obamacare enrollment is shrinking after Trump’s sabotage

Vox - All

The Trump administration set the law up to fail.

President Trump hasn’t succeeded in repealing Obamacare yet. But his administration is doing its best to force the law to fail.

The most critical time of the year for the health care law is open enrollment, when millions of people log on to online marketplaces, check whether they qualify for federal subsidies to help them pay their premiums, and shop for plans. For the past three years, at least 10 million people have gotten insurance that way each year.

Open enrollment is almost over: It ends Friday, December 15, in most states. So far, sign-ups have been somewhat strong in the face of the Trump administration’s overt sabotage. As of Dec. 9, 4.7 million people had signed up for insurance on the federal marketplace.

But they still seem likely to fall short of previous years. We can expect about 1.6 million to be automatically enrolled in a new plan at the end of open enrollment, if they haven’t actively selected a new one, based on the last two years. It would require an almost-unfathomable surge in the last week for 2018 enrollment on to match the 9.2 million in 2017. Something closer to 7.5 million or 8 million is looking more plausible.

"We expect enrollment to grow every year, not to shrink. This market is likely to shrink," Caroline Pearson, senior vice president at Avalere, a consulting firm, told me last week. "It is a big deal, for a market that's already too small and unstable."

The difference is Trump. This year, open enrollment was in the hands of a White House that’s openly hostile to the Affordable Care Act — and the Trump administration took advantage of the best opportunity it had to undercut the law.

President Trump has said Obamacare is imploding, which he hopes would reignite the stalled congressional effort to repeal it. He didn’t just sit around waiting for that to happen. His administration halved the length of open enrollment. They slashed spending on advertising and assistance programs. They pulled out of outreach events at the last minute.

The entire health care law could be at stake. Advertising and outreach are primarily targeted to younger and healthier people, who are essential to the law’s goal of affordable insurance coverage for all Americans. If their enrollment drops while older, sicker people keep signing up, premiums are going to increase even more next year.

It could be the start of a death spiral, a self-perpetuating cycle of price hikes and falling enrollment — which is exactly what Trump seems to want.

“I think what this cumulative activity can do is start that death spiral,” Kathleen Sebelius, President Obama’s health and human services secretary during the ACA’s first open enrollment, told me.

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The Palestinian president just said he won’t work with Trump

Vox - All

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced Wednesday that the Palestinians will no longer work with American peace negotiators in the wake of President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on December 6, the first serious diplomatic fallout from the deeply controversial move.

Speaking to a conference of Muslim leaders in Istanbul, Abbas called Trump’s decision a “crime” that left the US unqualified to continue in its historic role as the main international arbiter in the conflict, a role that he said should now go to the United Nations. Leaders at the conference asked the international community to recognize East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital.

The comments from Abbas were the Palestinians’ angriest formal response to the Trump announcement. Whether they’ll have any actual practical impact, though, is far from clear.

Abbas doesn’t have much room to maneuver these days. A public opinion poll published on Wednesday by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found that, unsurprisingly, more than 90 percent of Palestinians reject Trump’s announcement. But it also found that 70 percent of those polled want Abbas to step down.

In part that’s because Abbas angered many of his own people by publicly cozying up to a president widely seen as a close ally and uncritical supporter of the Israeli government.

When Trump and Abbas met back in May at the White House, Trump assured the press that the Palestinian leader would soon be back in Washington to sign a peace deal with the Israelis. “I want to support you in being the Palestinian leader who signs his name to the final and most important peace agreement that brings safety, security, and prosperity to both peoples and to the region,” Trump told Abbas at the time. He then promised to be a mediator for the peace process.

Abbas, in turn, gushed to the president that his “courageous stewardship” would create the capacity, on all sides, “to be true partners to bring about a historic peace treaty,”

By late summer, the Palestinians were feeling decidedly less enthusiastic.

Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and a point person on the peace process, visited both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Abbas in the region the last week of August. “The status quo is not working for our interests,” Ahmad Majdalani, a member of Abbas’s staff, told the press before Kushner visited.

But Kushner’s attentions had Abbas expressing hope once more. “We greatly appreciate the efforts of US President Donald Trump who pledged from the beginning that he is going to work for the ultimate deal," the Palestinian leader said before his conversation with Kushner.

"We know things are difficult and complicated, but nothing is impossible with good intentions."

He sure isn’t using words like that now.

Palestinians are promising not to work with Trump. That may not mean much.

Israelis and Palestinians both claim Jerusalem as their capital. Though Israel’s parliament and the prime minister’s home are in Jerusalem, they sit in West Jerusalem, the side of the city Israel has controlled since 1949. Israel captured East Jerusalem in 1967 and annexed that half of the city. The international community views that land as occupied territory; the Palestinians would like it to be their capital one day.

Since 1988 and the beginning of a peace process that envisioned a two-state solution to the conflict — that is, an independent Palestinian state and an independent Israeli state side by side — US policy has been to leave the status of Jerusalem to be decided by the two sides as part of a final peace agreement.

Trump’s statement last week changed that policy.

The Palestinian leadership is reeling from Trump’s decision -- and their own choices to trust him despite their initial misgivings, according to Khaled Elgindy, a fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. Trump’s announcement, he told me Monday, “[was] a huge setback — I can’t overstate how devastating this is for this Palestinian leadership.”

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'Tis the season!

Too many guns, and too many gun owners without the proper temperament or training, It's GunFail

2 critical after shooting in Target store parking lot in Emeryville
EMERYVILLE — Police are investigating a shooting in a Target store parking lot in the San Francisco Bay Area that left two people critically injured. The Oakland Police Department tells NBC Bay Area that two people were hospitalized with gunshot wounds Monday night and three guns were recovered ...

Agency targets trash, lawlessness at shooting range
Some shoot handguns and rifles at the range as nearby traffic goes by on South Las Vegas Boulevard and Interstate 15. The area has seen a handful of accidental shootings, including reports of stray bullets hitting vehicles on I-15. In September, a bicyclist was shot in the leg as he pedaled past the ...

Police: Girl critically hurt in accidental shooting
HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — A girl was critically injured Tuesday afternoon in shooting police said was accidental. Hampton police officials tweeted that ...

Kelso 13-year-old charged with manslaughter in accidental shooting death
The shooting occurred when Edgar was visiting Dawson's home in the 1500 block of Carroll Road in Kelso. According to court documents, Dawson told a Cowlitz County sheriff's detective that Edgar was chasing him around the house when he ran into a master bedroom and retrieved a shotgun from the ...

Police chief's son stable after accidentally shooting himself with father's gun, officials say
PLYMOUTH, Wis. - A three-year-old child is recovering after accidentally shooting himself with his father's firearm Monday in Juneau County, officials said. The boy's father is Elroy Police Chief Tony Green, according to WKBT. The Juneau County Sheriff's Office said deputies went to a home in Plymouth ...

11-year-old boy accidentally shot by neighbor in Suitland, police say
SUITLAND, Md. - An 11-year-old boy was taken to the hospital after an accidental shooting at a townhouse in Suitland, Prince George's County police say. The shooting happened in the 3000 block of Bellamy Way at around 6:40 p.m. Tuesday. According to police, a 33-year-old male neighbor was ...

Arnold officer shot by handcuffed suspect, rushed to hospital with 'life-threatening' injuries
Arnold Police investigate the scene of a shooting of one of their own officers on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, in the parking lot of the Arnold Police Station. According to a police spokesman, the Arnold officer was transporting a burglary suspect to the station when the suspect pulled a gun and shot the officer, ...

2 students shot near Washington high school, police say
Police are responding to reports that two students were shot at Graham-Kapowsin High School in Washington. (Google Earth) ... Sheriff's Office. One student was found in a parking lot near the football field, while another student was found shot in a locker room, the sheriff's office tweeted Tuesday.

Latah County hunter shot with .50-caliber muzzleloader
A 60-year-old Moscow man was shot in the buttocks by a .50-caliber muzzleloading rifle while hunting near the 1300 block of Mica Mountain Road near Deary Monday morning.

Police: Tennessee teen killed in accidental shooting
LAWRENCEBURG, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee teenager has been fatally shot in what police say appears to be an accident. WSMV-TV reports that 16-year-old Holley Cullum was found shot in the neck at an apartment building on Tuesday night. Lawrenceburg Police Chief Terry Beecham said ...

Accidental shooting nets 10-day unpaid suspension for Champaign cop
Champaign police released this footage Thursday afternoon, Aug. 17, 2017, taken from the dashboard camera of Officer James Hobson's squad car June 11 as he initiated a traffic stop of a vehicle driven by Dehari Banks on North Fourth Street. Most of the events take place out of the camera's view, but ...

Boy, 11, accidentally shot by neighbor in Prince George's Co.
WASHINGTON — An 11-year-old boy was taken to the hospital in critical condition after he was accidentally shot by his 33-year-old neighbor Tuesday night in ... “We do believe this was a tragic, tragic accident,” said Jennifer Donelan, spokeswoman for the Prince George's County Police Department.

Employee at Kahr Arms in Worcester is accidentally shot
WORCESTER — An employee of Kahr Arms suffered a minor hand injury in what police described Wednesday afternoon as an apparent accidental shooting. Late Wednesday afternoon police officers, detectives, and crime scene personnel went to the firearms manufacturer at 130 Goddard Memorial ...

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