The Affordable Care Act forces companies with more than 50 workers to buy them all health insurance or pay hefty fines
The IRS says volunteer firefighters are 'employees,' even though the Department of Labor says they're 'volunteers'
Out of more than 1 million fire departments in the U.S., 87 per cent are staffed entirely or mostly by life-saving volunteers
Members of Congress are weighing in, but the Obama administration hasn't taken any action yet to carve out a fire-fighting exception
Volunteer fire departments all across the U.S. could find themselves out of money and unable to operate unless Congress or the Obama Administration exempts them from the Affordable Care Act.
'I thought the kinks were worked out of Obamacare at the first of the month, Central Florida volunteer firefighter Carl Fabrizi told Sunshine State News.
'Man, oh, man, this could potentially destroy some real good companies in Florida.'
The U.S. Department of Labor takes the term 'volunteer' literally, but the IRS says volunteer firefighters are technically employees if they're on the job more than 30 hours per week, making them subject to Obamacare's employee-mandate rules.
Major U.S. cellphone providers received more than $20 million from law enforcement agencies in conjunction with more than 1.1. million user information requests in 2012, according to documents released Monday by Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass.
Five of the seven companies queried by Markey offered precise or ballpark figures for the revenue they received from law enforcement in 2012.
AT&T said it received $10,298,000, T-Mobile USA said approximately $11 million, Verizon Wireless said less than $5 million, U.S. Cellular said $241,000 and C Spire said $55,000.
Cricket and Sprint Nextel did not provide figures.
Following a string of state-level initiatives to raise minimum wages, Democrats in the Senate are salivating over the prospect of a national wage hike. Beginning with President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, in which he repeatedly pledged to increase the federal minimum wage on an annual basis, this issue has remained on the back burner throughout Obama’s presidency until now, when the administration is in desperate need of a distraction. The current incarnation of the proposal would put a double burden on U.S. businesses at a time when the economy needs them to thrive.
The latest effort comes from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., who has authored a proposal to raise the minimum wage from its current rate of $7.25 to $10.10 an hour. In addition to the immediate increase, she also wants the wage indexed to inflation, putting future increases on autopilot.
A one-time increase in the minimum wage is a bad enough idea on its own, but indexing wages based on inflation is even worse. Imagine having to make plans regarding payroll, hiring, firing, raises and benefits when the wages you are allowed to pay are constantly changing based on volatile numbers coming out of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The sheer level of uncertainty — to say nothing of the administrative costs accompanying regular and frequent wage increases — would introduce a level of nightmarish complexity to any attempts at entrepreneurship.
The minimum wage is one of those unique policies that is universally recognized as bad economics, yet persists due to appeals to emotion and politically clouded thinking. Artificially setting prices above the market level creates fewer buyers and more sellers. In the case of labor, this translates to unemployment.
"Ellen Nakashima reports at the Washington Post that morale has taken a hit at the National Security Agency in the wake of controversy over the agency's surveillance activities and officials are dismayed that President Obama has not visited the agency to show his support. 'It is not clear whether or when Obama might travel the 23 miles up the Baltimore-Washington Parkway to visit Fort Meade, the NSA's headquarters in Maryland,' writes Nakashima, 'but agency employees are privately voicing frustration at what they perceive as White House ambivalence amid the pounding the agency has taken from critics.' Though Obama has asserted that the NSA's collection of virtually all Americans' phone records is lawful and has saved lives, the administration has not endorsed legislation that would codify it. And his recent statements suggest Obama thinks some of the NSA's activities should be constrained. 'The agency, from top to bottom, leadership to rank and file, feels that it is had no support from the White House even though it's been carrying out publicly approved intelligence missions,' says Joel Brenner, NSA inspector general from 2002 to 2006. 'They feel they've been hung out to dry, and they're right.' Former officials note how President George W. Bush paid a visit to the NSA in January 2006, in the wake of revelations by the New York Times that the agency engaged in a counterterrorism program of warrantless surveillance on U.S. soil beginning after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. 'Bush came out and spoke to the workforce, and the effect on morale was tremendous,' Brenner said. 'There's been nothing like that from this White House.' Morale is 'bad overall' says another former NSA official. 'It's become very public and very personal. Literally, neighbors are asking people, 'Why are you spying on Grandma?'"
Obamacare Designer: You Can Probably Keep Your Doctor...If You're Willing to Pay A Lot More
Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel is an architect of Obamacare -- and the brother of former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel -- whose recent apologetics on behalf of the law he helped design have grown increasingly desperate. On Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace quizzed him about the accuracy of one of President Obama's most prominent healthcare vows: “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period." Is that actually true? Emanuel wasn't fond of the question, ultimately conceding that Obamacare's doctor networks will be limited. But that doesn't mean consumers can't keep their preferred doctors -- if they're prepared to shell out, that is (via the Weekly Standard):
WALLACE: 'If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.' Did he not say that, sir?"
EMANUEL: "He didn't say you could have unlimited choice."
WALLACE: "It's a simple yes or no question. Did he say if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor?"
EMANUEL: "Yes. But look, if you want to pay more for an insurance company that covers your doctor, you can do that. This is a matter of choice. We know in all sorts of places you pay more for certain -- for a wider range of choices or wider range of benefits.The issue isn't the selective networks. People keep saying, Oh, the problem is you're going to have a selective network--"
WALLACE: "Well, if you lose your doctor or lose your hospital--"
EMANUEL: "Let me just say something," said Emanuel. "People are going to have a choice as to whether they want to pay a certain amount for a selective network or pay more for a broader network."
WALLACE: "Which will mean your premiums will probably go up."
EMANUEL: "They get that choice. That's a choice they always made."
WALLACE: "Which means your premium may go up over what you were paying so that, in other words"
EMANUEL: "No one guaranteed you that your premium wouldn't increase. Premiums have been going up."
WALLACE "The president guaranteed me I could keep my doctor..."
EMANUEL: "And if you want to, you can pay for it."
Within an 88-second clip, another lie unravels, buttressed by an additional lie.
World of Warcraft: the NSA described games communities as a 'target-rich network' where potential terrorists could 'hide in plain sight'.
To the National Security Agency analyst writing a briefing to his superiors, the situation was clear: their current surveillance efforts were lacking something. The agency's impressive arsenal of cable taps and sophisticated hacking attacks was not enough. What it really needed was a horde of undercover Orcs.
That vision of spycraft sparked a concerted drive by the NSA and its UK sister agency GCHQ to infiltrate the massive communities playing online games, according to secret documents disclosed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The European parliament is lining up Edward Snowden to give evidence by video link this month, in spite of resistance by British Conservatives, a Green MEP has announced.
Jan Philipp Albrecht, a German Green MEP, said parliamentarians wanted Snowden to appear before the assembly's committee on civil liberties, justice and home affairs (LIBE).
Albrecht said it would represent a great success for the parliament's investigation into mass surveillance of EU citizens.
He said: "Half a year after the first publications from his collection of numerous NSA documents, the truth of which has not so far been refuted, there are still consequences as far as political responsibility is concerned.
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