Noontime News is a snapshot of our RSS feeds from the noon (Eastern time) hour.
“On Tuesday evening, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) conducted an “America Speaking Out” town hall with his constituents. Gingrey explained that Republicans would solicit ideas from the public using their America Speaking Out online platform to generate a new version of the 1994 “Contract with America.” However, he said regardless of the input received, the new political document outlining the GOP agenda would focus on extending the Bush era tax cuts for the richest two percent of Americans. To reinforce his point, Gingrey said that extending the Bush era tax cuts “at any level” would be a promise so strong it would be akin to “God’s covenant with Moses,” and a “a pledge of your sworn sacred honor.” He also said that he would “sign it in blood if necessary”:
GINGREY: I had somebody say you know a Contract with America is a little redundant, going back to 1994. And I had somebody suggest at a town hall meeting recently maybe it ought to be a “Covenant with America.” Just as God’s covenant with Moses, really this is a convenant.”
“Viewing the GOP as “the party of ideas,” Republican Senate candidate Bill Binnie entered the New Hampshire senate race to “add my voice to economic challenges” as a self-described fiscal conservative who believes in a woman’s right to choose. According to Binnie, his pro-choice stance invited “over 1,000 pieces of mail” and threatening phone calls to his home. “We don’t answer our phone anymore,” he said.
In defending his pro-choice stance, he said, “I believe that the individual has the final say, not the government, in terms of how we live our lives.” He added, “There is a fight in my party for individual rights and what it means to be a Republican.” But as the GOP shifts towards a more radical stance, he says “it is a challenge” to “stand in a Republican primary” when the party “has morphed into parts that I don’t recognize”:
“My view of the Republican Party is the party of ideas. It morphed into parts that I don’t recognize.”
“This afternoon, hate pastor Terry Jones said his church is canceling its planned event to burn the Quran this Saturday. According to Jones, he made the decision because Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf told him that he would move the planned Park51 community center away from Ground Zero in New York. Watch the press conference:
However, a Yahoo News reporter says a Park51 spokesperson said the group has no plans to move the Muslim community center. “
“American soldiers in Afghanistan are relying on civilian interpreters who in some cases don't know the languages they were hired to speak, resulting in dangerous military mistakes.”
“Environmental activist and founder of 350.org Bill McKibben has been driving down the East Coast in recent days to deliver to President Obama a solar panel President Jimmy Carter installed on top of the White House. McKibben, in a meeting with the White House today, will ask that the panel, one of several that were removed from the White House down during the Reagan administration, be reinstalled on the White House.
In an op-ed in today’s Washington Post, McKibben said installing solar panels on the White House would be a much-needed symbol of the Obama administration’s support of renewable energy, one that environmentalists need following a crushing legislative defeat on climate legislation this year.
McKibben, in the op-ed, also serves a bit of cold, hard reality regarding the likelihood of passing strong environmental legislation any time soon:
Clearly, a solar panel on the White House roof won’t solve climate change — and we’d rather have strong presidential leadership on energy transformation. But given the political scene, this may be as good as we’ll get for the moment.”
“A federal appeals court struck down today a Hazleton, Pa., ordinance that criminalized anyone who rented to or hired an illegal immigrant. The ordinance was a precursor to Arizona’s SB 1070 immigration law and other copy-cat anti-immigration legislation, and may signal what is to come for laws accused of preempting federal immigration authority.
Hazleton passed its ordinance in 2006. It was considered one of the toughest laws against illegal immigration at the time. The ACLU, along with other rights groups, filed a suit on behalf of the city’s landowners, business owners and residents, and the law was found unconstitutional by a federal court in 2007. In his decision, Judge James M. Munley wrote that the 14th Amendment applies to everyone in the U.S., not just legal residents.
The city of Hazleton appealed that ruling to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, which today agreed the city’s law was unconstitutional because it preempts federal immigration law.”
“At Talking Points Memo, Brian Beutler reports that Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) is not interested in raising taxes on households making more than $250,000 a year or individuals making more than $200,000, as the White House wants. Without Nelson, the most moderate Democrat, the White House proposal becomes untenable — it will not beat a Republican filibuster in the Senate — and a two-year extension of all the tax cuts seems the likeliest path.
“I support extending all of the expiring tax cuts until Nebraska’s and the nation’s economy is in better shape, and perhaps longer, because raising taxes in a weak economy could impair recovery,” Nelson said today.
Other moderate Democrats are coming out in opposition to the tax hikes, even on the wealthiest, in the House. For instance, Rep. Jim Himes (Conn.) supports an extension because $250,000 a year “does not make you really rich.” (Maybe not in Fairfield County, which Himes represents. It is one of America’s wealthiest counties, and has the highest concentration of hedge funds outside of Manhattan. If you wanted to, you could buy a house like this.) But, only about two percent of filers make that much nationally.
If Democrats attempt to raise taxes on high-income Americans, a bill could founder in the Senate — and if Congress comes to no agreement on the tax cuts, they expire. That means income taxes revert to 2000 levels for everyone, hiking taxes even on low earners.”
“EPA has asked nine hydraulic fracturing service providers to voluntarily hand over information about the chemicals the companies use in removing natural gas from the ground. The information, the EPA says, will assist in putting together a study on the controversial practice, in which water, sand and chemicals are injected into the group to loosen natural gas deposits.
EPA requested from the companies “the chemical composition of fluids used in the hydraulic fracturing process, data on the impacts of the chemicals on human health and the environment, standard operating procedures at their hydraulic fracturing sites and the locations of sites where fracturing has been conducted,” according to a statement from the agency.
Environmentalists and some in Congress have called for better regulation of hydraulic fracturing, including mandatory requirements to disclose the chemicals used in the process. But industry has countered that the specific chemical cocktails used in fracturing are proprietary and they should not have to disclose them.”
“Japan’s Defense Ministry stressed the importance of U.S. military forces in Japan and cast a wary eye on China’s military expansion in an annual report Friday, as diplomatic tensions with China rose following a collision near disputed islands.”
“The push to revamp the fund’s governance has met resistance from Europe.”
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