Under the Reading Lamp — 4/16/2012

Big Victory For Strawberry Lovers

earthjustice.org: Do you like to eat strawberries grown without cancer-causing fumigants? You do! Well then, have I got some news for you! Last night, Arysta LifeScience, the producer of the toxic fumigant methyl iodide (sold under the sunny corporate nomenclature “Midas”) announced it is pulling its product—designed for use primarily in strawberry fields—off the U.S. market. The announcement comes as the California Superior Court was about to issue its decision in an Earthjustice lawsuit aimed at stopping the use of the dangerous chemical.

Cantor Proposal for 20 Percent Business Tax Deduction Would Provide Windfall for Wealthy, Not Create Jobs

CBO Rated Similar Approach One of Least Effective Ways to Create Jobs

Chuck Marr | Center on Budget & Policy Priorities:  Though billed as a measure to create jobs by aiding small businesses, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) proposal for a 20% tax deduction in 2012 for businesses with fewer than 500 employees would benefit many high-income taxpayers — including many affluent doctors, lawyers, and stockbrokers — while failing to generate the promised economic benefits. The Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center estimates that nearly half — 49% — of the $46 billion tax cut that the measure would provide would go to people with incomes over $1 million a year.

Why a Fair Economy is Not Incompatible with Growth but Essential to It

Robert Reich, Op-Ed: “Taxes were far higher on top incomes in the three decades after World War II than they’ve been since. And the distribution of income was far more equal. Yet the American economy grew faster in those years than it’s grown since tax rates on the top were slashed in 1981.”

 

What the Laws of War Allow

Chase Madar |Op-Ed: Watch, if you can bear it, as the helicopter crew blows people away, killing at least a dozen of them, and taking good care to wipe out the wounded as they try to crawl to safety. (You can also hear the helicopter crew making wisecracks throughout.) When a van comes on the scene to tend to the survivors, the Apache gunship opens fire on it too, killing a few more and wounding two small children.

Activists To Launch “We Can’t Wait” Campaign Challenging White House On Anti-Discrimination Order

Igor Volsky, News Report: The White House insists that it’s putting the executive order on hold in order to build legislative support for the Employment Nondiscrimination Act or ENDA, which would prohibit all employers from discriminating against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender employees. But the measure stands little chance of passing in a Republican-controlled House of Representatives and some LGBT advocates were left with the impression that the administration punted on the order because it is “wary of imposing additional requirements on businesses ahead of the election.

CNN Includes Gay Adoption Advocate in ‘Heros’ Series

Video Report: CNN has named David Wing-Kovarik, who founded Families Like Ours to help gay and lesbian people adopt children from the foster system, as one of its Heroes of 2012. “I’m fighting for the right of that child to have that family,” Wing Kovarik says. “It’s why I keep doing it every single day.” Watch a short segment about his work.

 

The World’s Richest Failed State: Fairness and Freedom in Contemporary America

Tom Magstadt, Op-Ed: We live in a country where the super rich pay a far smaller share of the income they get than the average middle class taxpayer, where the Buffet Rule is etched into tax laws that heavily favor “capital gains” (the kind Mitt Romney and the Koch brothers rake in) over “earned income” (wages and salaries of store clerks, mechanics, and assembly line workers.

Former Bush EPA Chief Sounds Alarm on Chemical Security

Jim Morris, News Analysis: “In the months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, then-EPA administrator Whitman ‘seriously considered’ using the Clean Air Act to shore up chemical security, she wrote Jackson. ‘After careful consideration, I decided that our best alternative was to pursue legislative action to achieve this goal.’ The Bush White House chose not to back such legislation.”

Proposals Raising the Normal Retirement Age for Social Security Would Lead to Increase in Inequality

Alan Barber, News Report: The report, “The Impact on Inequality of Raising the Social Security Retirement Age,” projects the impact of a gradual increase of the normal retirement age on various demographic groups, looking at each quintile of the wealth distribution, as well as the richest 1 percent. The paper also contains separate projections for homeowners and non-homeowners, single individuals and couples in several age cohorts. These projections demonstrate that Social Security wealth is a much larger share of wealth for the bottom four of the five groups.

Climate on Steroids: More Mainstream Media Coverage of Extreme Weather and Climate Change

Stephen Lacey, News Analysis: The Weather Channel has also picked up on the story, featuring a number of stories about the influence of human activity on extreme weather. One of the best segments featured meteorologist Stu Ostro, who explained why “data and science, not politics” changed him from a skeptic to someone very concerned about the problem. Add a new piece from the Weather Channel to the mix of growing coverage.

Just One of Monsanto’s Crimes, or Why We Can’t Trust the EPA

Alexis Baden-Mayer, News Report: The EPA knew the truth about Monsanto’s dioxin crimes, but it decided to hide it. Why? It would have affected us all. EPA’s brief criminal investigation of Monsanto included evidence that Monsanto knowingly contaminated Lysol with dioxin, even as the product was being marketed for cleaning babies’ toys. Here are the details of this jaw-dropping and heart-breaking case of corporate criminality and EPA collusion.

Hey Etch-A-Sketch-Conservatives, Time to Resurrect Some Honesty

Leo Gerard, Op-Ed: Honorable journalists abide by an ethics code forbidding lying to secure a story. For them, the end does not justify the means. By contrast, for O’Keefe and today’s Etch A Sketch conservatives, the end they want vindicates any scheme to secure it. Deliberate lying, cynical deceit, cut-and-paste deception – all of that is rationalized by conservatives to get their way. It’s a lovely escape clause they’ve written for themselves from that annoying Judeo-Christian thou-shalt-not-lie commandment.

Behind Closed Doors, Broadcasters Battle Online Disclosure of Political Ad Buys

Justin Elliott, News Report: Right now we only know the broad thrust the proposed FCC rule: That broadcasters would have to electronically send the commission updates to its political file — in other words, information about what political ads are being purchased, by whom, and for how much money — instead of merely maintaining paper files at the stations, the current practice. The information would be made public on an FCC website.

The Latest SEC/Goldman Sachs Sweetheart Deal is the Worst One Yet

Richard (RJ) Eskow, Op-Ed: It’s not just the fact that the SEC continues to ignore the public’s outrage by letting bankers off scott-free. And it’s not just that this kind of irresponsible behavior ensures that the law breaking will continue. Its not just that crooked bank executives are allowed to “neither admit nor deny wrongdoing.” It’s not even the fact that this time around the SEC has worded its announcement in a clumsy attempt to obscure the criminal behavior of Goldman’s employees – although that’s one of this agreement’s worst features.