Noontime News is a snapshot of our RSS feeds from the noon (Eastern time) hour.
“After we reported yesterday that the Shirley Sherrod scandal came the same week as the Senate may vote on authorizing $1.15 billion in restitution for black farmers, Andrew Breitbart wrote us that that had nothing to do with it. “No. Seriously. On everything I hold dear,” Breitbart swore in an email to TPMmuckraker. “
“Earlier this week, the Senate finally voted 60-40 to extend unemployment insurance for the millions of Americans who are unable to find work due to the poor economy. One senator who voted against extending these benefits was Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), who cited the deficit as his reason for opposing an extension. He gave the following statement to the press: “I support extending unemployment benefits for Nebraskans and Americans who remain out of work. However, I opposed the Senate’s unemployment bill today because it should have, and it could have, been paid for.”
“Last week, former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan called for allowing the Bush tax cuts he championed in 2001 to fully expire, as scheduled, at the end of the year. His reversal dealt a blow to Republicans who are calling for an unpaid-for permanent extension of the cuts for the rich, even falsely claiming that they increase government revenues.
Unsurprisingly, Greenspan’s comments have irked some right-wing pundits. The strongly discredited economist and former member of President Reagan’s Economic Policy Advisory Board Arthur Laffer criticized Greenspan on the Fox Business network, questioning his patriotism and accusing him of practicing “bad economics.””
“Thad Allen Thursday night ordered BP to begin evacuating personnel from the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil catastrophe in anticipation of the arrival of Tropical Storm Bonnie. The evacuation is likely to delay the completion of a relief well. The last ships to leave would be those providing video monitoring of the sealed containment cap.”
“Vice President Joe Biden told those attending a Democratic fundraiser Thursday in Chapel Hill, N.C., that his party’s midterm election prospects would brighten when voters realize the stark differences between the two parties.”
“President Obama has named Fred H. Bartlit Jr. as chief counsel for The National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, a seven-member bipartisan panel tasked with uncovering the causes of the April 20 explosion in the Gulf of Mexico and developing options for avoiding similar disasters in the future.
Bartlit, widely considered one of the nation’s top litigators, was a lead investigator into the Piper Alpha North Sea Oil Platform disaster of 1988, which killed 167 workers, and made national headlines while representing George W. Bush in the infamous Florida recount in 2000.”
“Yesterday, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner confirmed a well-known fact: The Obama administration and many congressional Democrats are in agreement that the bulk of the Bush tax cuts need to be kept in place, to keep the tax burden on middle-class families low. But to close the deficit, taxes need to revert to pre-2001 levels for wealthy Americans. “We believe it is appropriate to let those tax cuts that go to the most fortunate expire,” Geithner said.”
“Last night, the U.S. Senate attempted to move on the House’s version of a war-funding bill, providing much-needed funds to the Pentagon for Afghanistan and Iraq as well as billions of dollars for domestic programs. But the bill failed to get cloture, 46-51, with 10 members of the Democratic caucus in opposition. The Senate then held a voice vote on its own bill — including the military funding, stripping out the domestic spending and including disaster relief and aid for Haiti.
The House version of the bill included $10 billion in “edujobs” funding — money for local governments to keep as many as 200,000 teachers working as the states face yawning budget gaps in the coming year. (The White House threatened to veto the bill if it included the funding, because it paid for it in part by taking money from Race to the Top, the Education Department’s signature effort to improve schools.) It also included billions for summer jobs programs, Pell Grants and other measures. Those have now officially failed.
The House now needs to take up the whittled-down Senate version. The House bill included $80 billion in total spending, and $37 billion in war funding. The Senate version includes $33 billion for the Department of Defense and about $4 billion for the State Department’s “civilian surge.” The House has one more week before August recess. The Senate has two. “
“The same day that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced that he did not have the votes to pass a cap-and-trade bill, even a scaled-down utility-only version, news broke that China has decided to institute its own cap-and-trade system, though the details remain fuzzy.
Why is this significant? Republicans have long argued that there is no sense in capping greenhouse gas emissions in the United States if major emitters like China refuse to impose caps of their own. The announcement appears to deflate that argument, although Republicans can still make the same argument about other major emitters that are not capping their emissions.
This development was not lost on environmentalists, who pointed out the irony that China has acted before the United States to reporters yesterday.”
“Officials are requiring ports around the country to revise their operations to better prevent spills like the one that started last week in northeast China, the largest in recent memory.”
“The 2010 Tour de France was canceled Friday morning following an incident during Stage 18 in which an unidentified automobile somehow found its way onto the course, struck each competing rider, and sped off without stopping.
“I can’t believe someone would do that,” said Saxo Bank team leader Andy Schleck, who was with the lead riders in the peloton when the four-door vehicle pulled out directly in front of them. “He came from a side road, just cut right across us without looking, and the next thing I knew I was flying over the hood. He didn’t even slow down, just turned into traffic and kept going.”
As of Friday morning, French police had no concrete clues as to the identity of the hit-and-run driver. Greg LeMond and Floyd Landis have accounted for their whereabouts at the time of the incident, though police have not yet ruled them out as possible suspects. However, Interpol officials said they may have detected a pattern in recent international sporting events.
“We are investigating the possibility that this is the same driver responsible for several hit-and-runs during the French Open, the death of three Spaniards and a bull at Pamplona, and the vehicular homicides on the pitch during this year’s World Cup final.” special investigator Jean de Valery told reporters. “Then again, he may just be a normal motorist. Bicyclists can often be very annoying.””
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